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Articles Home » 1988 Articles » Nugent, Ted - 1988 If You Can't Lick Em...Lick Em
Nugent, Ted - 1988 If You Can't Lick Em...Lick Em

ARTIST: Nugent, Ted
ALBUM: If You Can't Lick Em...Lick Em
LABEL: Atlantic
SERIAL: 81818-2
YEAR: 1988
CD REISSUE: Reissue List


LINEUP: Ted Nugent - vocals, guitar * Dave Amato - guitar * Chuck Wright - bass * Pat Torpey - drums * John Purdell - keyboards * Jai Winding - hammond organ

TRACK LISTING: 01 Can't Live With 'Em * 02 She Drives Me Crazy * 03 If You Can't Lick 'Em... Lick 'Em * 04 Skintight * 05 Funlover * 06 Spread Your Wings * 07 The Harder They Come (The Harder I Get) * 08 Seperate The Men From The Boys, Please * 09 Bite The Hand * 10 That's The Story Of Love


Just the very cover and album title alone is something to behold of this practically forgotten Ted Nugent album. Could you imagine the outrage if this was released today? Regardless, this album caught Nugent at an uncertain time in his career, the days of platinum albums long since gone, with the notorious wild man seemingly caught in a freefall. 1986's 'Little Miss Dangerous' was an inferior follow up to 1984's 'Penetrator' as Nugent adopted a slick hard rock approach, punctuated by a guest appearance on 'Miami Vice' that same year. When he returned in 1988 Nugent clearly was trying to recapture the spirit of earlier albums, but I have to admit this album left me cold for years. Having always considered it a pedestrian effort, I was surprised to find it's held up better than I thought, with scattered highlights earning it a recommendation.

The Songs
The hard rock quota is much more balanced overall here, with a selection of instant anthems, which admittedly take some time to grasp, due to a sometimes repetitive and bludgeoning sound. Nugent is at his fiery best on 'Can't Live With 'Em' especially with his guitar work, which tends to overshadow the actual chorus. 'She Drives Me Crazy' is stock late 80's hard rock, wedged somewhere between slick AOR and hard rock, but falling flat as a whole. The title track opens akin to something from Nugent's 70's work and plods along, never really reaching any significant heights, far too slow and unremarkable to get the thumbs up. Nugent turns it around with the rampant 'Skintight' however, blazing a trail with his guitar work and some of the most hilarious lyrics of his career. How's this for subtle? 'Drives me crazy, drives me nuts, looking at all of those fine, fine, butts.' This is the charm of the man after all. 'Funlover' follows suit, another frantic rocker with aggressive guitar work all over the place and Nugent casting dispersion on his favorite topic of fast and loose women once more.

The Jimi Hendrix inspired 'Spread Your Wings' is a drawn out ballad of sorts and one could say token, with Nugent showing a more emotive side to his guitar skills. Normal service is resumed with 'The Harder They Come (The Harder I Get)' and its self-explanatory title. It's energetic enough and a decent romp and followed by a track with another painfully long title, 'Separate The Men From The Boys Please'. This one has shades of AC/DC and I can't say I'm too fond of the hammond organ in the mic. 'Bite The Hand' recycles every 70's riff Nugent ever invented and as a result it's a throwback of sorts, this one recalling 'Hard As Nails' or 'Good And Ready' from the glory days. Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora get a credit on 'That's The Story Of Love' and you can hear them in the background, although if the plan was to formulate a hit, it never panned out. The song is thoroughly ordinary, just faceless hard rock which sounds like a reject from 'New Jersey.'

In Summary
Clearly not Nugent's best work, but far from his worst and much more preferable to his Damn Yankees stint and later solo work. Nugent must have been suffering from an identity crisis at the time stylistically, not knowing where to focus his efforts. For an album obscured by his overplayed and overly familiar classics, this is still a slice of prime Nugent.

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