Ted Nugent – “Penetrator” (1984)

Ted NugentThere are certain expectations one has when pressing play on a Ted Nugent record.  For fans of America’s favorite predator of the underaged, Penetrator came as a major disappointment in 1984.  The album is almost universally hated by Nugent fans.  Indeed, side one of Penetrator does not sound like a Ted Nugent record.  New singer Brain Howe brings with him a certain Foreigner/Loverboy AOR feel, and the abundance of keyboards seems counteractive to Nugent’s caveman, gunslinger persona.  (It should be noted, however, that Ted’s signature soloing is still very much in play.)  If I were a die-hard fan of Ted, I too would find much of the well-behaved Penetrator to be a slap in the face.  But I am only a casual Ted fan (at most), and because I am not totally invested, I have no problem proclaiming that I actually like about half of Penetrator (side one, to be exact).  Howe sings all of the songs on side one, and I must say I really like his voice.  I think songs like Tied Up In Love and Knockin’ At Your Door are good tunes — even if they do not represent the trademark Ted Nugent sound.  (Basically, I am admitting to liking side one of Penetrator for all the “wrong” reasons.)

Ted sings all but one of the songs on side two, and this is where the album loses me.  While side one may be shunned for its soup-of-the-day eighties arena sound, side two shows that Ted couldn’t get out of his own way.  Thunder Thighs, No Man’s Land, and Lean Mean R&R Machine are embarrassing, tired, and cliché — all showing a side of Ted that was woefully stuck in the mud.  My score: B-

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