This month for “My First Time”, I am going to go back to the first Ted Nugent album I ever owned which was ‘Cat Scratch Fever’. The album is Ted’s third solo album and was released May 13, 1977 just a hair over 40 years ago. I was around 9 years old at the time. No, I didn’t buy it then. It wasn’t until some time in the 80’s when I finally picked it up.
The album has sold well over 3 million copies and peaked at #17 on the Billboard charts. Ted and company were riding high though not actually high as Ted is a staunch advocate against drugs and alcohol.
The original Ted Nugent band was back together after Meat Loaf was brought in for some of the songs on their last album ‘Free For All’. However, this would be the last studio album with the original band as Rob Grange would leave before the next studio album ‘Weekend Warriors’. The band consisted of the following members:
- Ted Nugent – Lead Guitar and vocals
- Derek St. Holmes – Lead vocals and rhythm guitars
- Rob Grange – Bass
- Cliff Davies – Drums
When I heard this album, I was probably around 9/10 years old, I was completely mesmerized by this mad man known as Ted Nugent. He was nothing like I had ever seen before. Plus, the way he played guitar was amazing. I instantly became a fan. I did finally get to see him live sometime in the early 80’s when he opened for Kiss. I believe Pat Travers was also on that bill.
- “Cat Scratch Fever”
- “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang”
- “Death By Misadventure”
- “Live It Up”
- “Home Bound”
Enough chatting, let’s get to the songs. The first track is one of the most popular Ted Nugent Songs and probably one of the most memorable guitar riffs. It is the title track to the album, “Cat Scratch Fever”. I say it is one of his most popular because the most popular is probably “Stranglehold”.
The song was the first single off the album and is a complete rocker. The guitar work is utterly amazing. It is that guitar sound that attracted me to his music and kept me a fan mostly of his earlier work. Never got into much of his newer stuff. This is also one of the few songs sings on the album where Ted sings. Early in his career he was not known for singing on too many songs, but that changed as he realized how much attention he could get if he did both singing & lead guitar. He does have an ego.
Did you know that cat scratch fever is actually a real thing? It is an infectious disease caused by cat’s when they scratch you. It really is what it says it is. It typically only impacts young children and now Ted, on the other hand, has turned into something very dirty. Like a lot of his songs, it is about sex. He definitely believes in the Sex and Rock & Roll part of Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll.
The second track on the album is surprise, surprise another song that is about nothing but sex. The song is the classic “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang”. Ted is singing on this one as well since the two best songs on the album are first up why would he not. I did mention he has an ego right. The song has more great guitar work and is really the center piece to the whole song. This is a great to hear live as well.
“Death By Misadventure” is up next and Derek St. Holmes finally takes over the lead vocals. His vocals a great, but honestly, I prefer Ted’s vocals. Ted’s songs have a little more fire to them with him singing. Not to take anything away from this song as it is another favorite on the album. I won’t go on and on about the guitar work as there is nothing but amazing guitar work on all the songs.
“Death By Misadventure” is about the death of founding Rolling Stones member, Brian Jones. Brian Jones was found dead at the bottom of a pull and it caused by drug use and since Ted is against drugs, he considers this song to be an anti-drug song.
“Live It Up” is the fourth track. For me, it is lacking a little punch. It leads back to the vocals as they seem to be light for a song called “Live It Up”.
The second single on the album was the fifth track, “Home Bound”. What I find strange is that the song is an instrumental. I am not sure why they would release an instrumental song as a single. I would have gone with “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang” which was probably too dirty for radio; “Death By Misadventure” would have been a great choice or even the last song “Out of Control”. But that is me.
It is a great instrumental track and there is definitely a Kiss influence on the drum part. There is a drum piece in the song that reminds me of the drums from “Love Gun” by Kiss when the get to the patriotic sounding piece in the song. The bands did tour together many times so maybe they influenced each other. Both songs did come out in 1977.
- “Workin’ Hard, Playin’ Hard”
- “Sweet Sally”
- “A Thousand Knives”
- “Fist Fightin’ Son of a Gun”
- “Out of Control”
The opening track on side 2 is “Workin’ Hard, Playin’ Hard”. It has a great opening with some more fantastic guitar work by Ted. Derek is still on vocals and does a good job on this one hanging with Ted’s guitar work. It is a great track to start off Side 2 and one of the better tracks on this side.
Ted jumps back on vocals with “Sweet Sally”. As I said before, when Ted sings there is a little extra punch in the vocals. I don’t know if it is the production and purposely done or he is that much better than Derek. I think it might be both. Ted is also just a natural frontman. They don’t call him the Motor City Madman for nothing. The song is short and sweet (no pun intended).
“A Thousand Knives” is the third track and the least memorable for me. When I pulled out the album it was the only song I couldn’t really remember. And still after listening to the album numerous times again so I could write about it, it still is not a standout and I guess that say enough.
“Fist Fightin’ Son of a Gun” kicks of strong and with a blistering guitar riff that very briefly reminded of “Revolution” by the Beatles. A good rocker and I love the overall fast tempo and pacing of the song. It got my spirits back up after “A Thousand Knives”.
The final track and my favorite on Side 2 is “Out of Control”. And like the previous song, it is a great rocking track. Or should I say rockin’ since they continually drop the “g” from all their song titles. These last two songs did make me become a fan of Derek as I thought these were two of his best songs vocally on the album. I think this could have been a single as I really enjoyed and all always hit replay afterwards.
And there you have it, my take on ‘Cat Scratch Fever’. I found it to be as good as I remember it and at sometimes even better as I do appreciate music a lot more today than when I was a kid. It might not be Ted’s best album, but for me it is up at the top. I do love ‘Double Live Gonzo’ though. I am not a huge fan as I stopped following his releases towards the end of the 80’s, but his 70’s era was unbeatable. Today he runs his mouth quite a bit, but it is the music to me that matters. Give it a try if you haven’t already.