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Case Number 13925: Small Claims Court

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Ted Nugent: Sweden Rocks

Eagle Rock Entertainment // 1981 // 120 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Ryan Keefer (Retired) // June 26th, 2008

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All Rise...

The last time someone laid a hand on Judge Ryan Keefer's "wango tango," they also suffered from "cat scratch fever."

The Charge

What do you get when you cross a wild rock and roller with tens of thousands of concert-going Swedes? Well, a two hour set for starters.

The Case

You know, sometimes it pays to do your research kids. I honestly thought the Sweden Rock Festival was a bit of a joke, but doing an interwebs search led me to see that it's been a recurring summer event since 1992. Spread out over several days, the festival's main attractions early on were a little underwhelming, unless you're a fan of Nazareth and Bachman-Turner Overdrive. And while they get the occasional Led Zeppelin or Credence Clearwater Revival cover band, they manage to pull in an occasional Alice Cooper and Aerosmith, sprinkled in with 80s metal bands Anthrax, Testament, and many more. Ted Nugent's first appearance at the festival was in 2002 and he returned in 2006 to play for those hard rock and metal-starved Scandinavians, and his set list is as follows:

• "Stormtroopin'"
• "Wango Tango"
• "Snakeskin Cowboys"
• "Free For All"
• "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang"
• "Klstrphnky"
• "Raw Dogs & War Hogs"
• "Soul Man"
• "Hey Baby"
• "Dog Eat Dog"
• "Still Raising Hell"
• "Motor City Madhouse"
• "Cat Scratch Fever"
• "Stranglehold"
• "Great White Buffalo"

For the uninitiated, Nugent's career has spanned over four decades, first with the Amboy Dukes in 1967, followed by a run of success as a solo artist in the 70s with "Cat Scratch Fever" and "Stranglehold." The 80s saw Ted increase his profile, appearing in guest starring roles like Miami Vice and being the guitarist for the band Damn Yankees, which included Night Ranger's Jack Blades and Styx's Tommy Shaw. The group (whose concert I went to in college as part of a twin bill with Bad Company) had some minor success with the song "High Enough." In the 90s, Nugent transformed his persona into the one that many are familiar with now, one of gun enthusiast and avid hunter. He has written several books on hunting and grilling the kill, and with God, Guns and Rock 'N Roll, outlined his philosophy on how things should be, according to the Nuge. The self-proclaimed "Motor City Madman" lives and performs on natural adrenaline, and his zest for living has to be commended. When it comes to his performances, that adrenaline was front and center in his twenties and thirties. But when you're 57, as Nugent was when he took to the stage in Sweden in 2006, it becomes less about the adrenaline and more about "what's the old man doing on stage."

Don't get me wrong, I love the Swedes, and one day when I grow up, I want to be Swedish, but it seems like Nugent, who is trying to do what he can to put on a great show, appears to be met with apathy by a lot of those in the crowd that he's trying to engage. Ted is singing and playing guitar, backed up by his so-called "funk brothers," which are comprised of Barry Sparks on bass and Mick Brown on drums, whom I've never heard of before, but the three of them all look a little sad on stage together. It's like watching a dancing monkey, except the monkey is your dad who's had too many vodka tonics, right down to the point where a strange cover of "Soul Man" is performed.

I know what you're saying; "Ryan, your judgment on the show is a clouded. You're dismissive of Nugent because of his second amendment stance and political views, so you don't want to like him anymore, even though he can still bring it." Well, he and I share a lot of similarity in our views, and I even have an "R" by my name, but he's the kind of guy whose bluster is a little bit on the showmanship side of things, and I kept his shtick out of my head as much as possible. But looking at the performance itself, I couldn't help but feel that he was either too amped up for the crowd, or the crowd was answering mobile phone calls and smoking cigarettes and saw Nugent as time filler for another act. I've seen Nuge as an opener, and giving him 90 minutes on an already crowded bill of artists seemed a little excessive from even a performance standpoint.

Technically, the show is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen and looks fine from a presentation standpoint, and you get a choice of DTS, 5.1 Dolby Surround, and 2.0 Dolby stereo tracks, all of which sound good and well worth reproducing in a home theater. There is some additional footage of Nugent performing at a separate 2007 festival, along with interviews with his backing musicians, not to mention the requisite footage of Ted at the range, shooting bows and firing fully automatic weapons.

Bottom line, while I wasn't sure what to expect from this Nugent performance, I was disappointed to see the final product. I hope Ted pumps the brakes a bit more on his performance schedule, because I think he's tarnishing the "Motor City Madman" image that many found enjoyable. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to listen to the Double Live Gonzo album to wash my senses out of what I experienced.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 56

Perp Profile

Studio: Eagle Rock Entertainment
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• DTS 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 120 Minutes
Release Year: 1981
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Concerts and Musicals
• Performance

Distinguishing Marks

• Additional Footage

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