Monday, February 3, 2014

Ted Nugent - Penetrator

This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of the release of Penetrator, the eighth studio album from American rocker Ted Nugent. This 1984 release peaked at number 56 on the US Billboard Album chart (with fifteen weeks on the chart total). Joining Nugent's guitars were Bad Company's Brian Howe (lead vocals), the Door's Doug Lubahn (bass), and from Billy Squier's band Alan St. Jon (keyboards) and Bobby Chouinard (drums). Peter Wolf of the J. Geils Band also provided some percussion and sequencing.

Side one begins with "Tied Up in Love", which was also released as a single. The hard rocker, which features a couple searing guitar solos, dances with bondage symbolism.

"(Where Do You) Draw the Line" was penned by Canadians Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance. For me, the keyboard accents during the verses are a bit off-putting.

"Knockin' at Your Door" is about a very persistent guy who has his eye set on a very specific woman.

Lyrically, "Don't You Want My Love" comes across like a collection of bad pickup lines.

"Go Down Fighting" closes out the first half with a mid-tempo, motivational anthem.

Side two starts with "Thunder Thighs", a mocking rocker about an overweight woman with an insatiable appetite for men. The song is hardly politically correct, but back in the 80's rockers did not have to make any excuses for their songs' subject matter. What is sad is this one is clearly the standout track on the record so far.

"No Man's Land" actually continues the improved trend. This one really feels like a Nugent song through and through.

"Blame It on the Night" opens with some synths that give it a very cosmic vibe. They are quickly pushed to the background by the guitars, thankfully.

I like the opening guitar groove on "Lean Mean R & R Machine", but it does not stick around long. The title and lyrics refer to the Motorcity Madman himself.

The record closes with "Take Me Home", a ballad that starts out acoustic before bringing the rest of the band in. One of the guitar solos has a touch of Brian May to it.

Once again, we have an album that I will be coming into completely fresh with this review; I cannot recall hearing any of these songs ever. My first impression of Penetrator is that it sounds like a Bad Company record; Howe's vocal style is very distinctive. The second impression is that it all has a very dated 80's sound to it. Clearly Ted Nugent was looking to update his sound, and he enlisted a number of guys that could do that. But the end result is just sort of average. Sure, it has some of Nugent's powerful guitar licks, but they end up competing with the rest for the spotlight. It does not help that all of the arrangements, at least on side one, are so very similar in tempo and presentation. If I had owned this one, side two would have gotten most of the plays.

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