Remember the old days of rock and roll, when “supergroup” meant a fantastic conflation of individual talents instead of a calculated corporate merger as it does today? (“Okay, Tommy, you get 40 percent of the T-shirt sales, but Ted’s production company gets to make all our videos.”) The newest merger is Damn Yankees, a band made up of Tommy Shaw of Styx, Jack Blades of Night Ranger, guitar kamikaze Ted Nugent and drummer Michael Cartellone. Together, they’ve come up with an impressive, albeit schizophrenic sound.
On such songs as “Coming of Age” and the title track, the guitars want to get down in the dirt and boogie, but the polite pop melodies refuse to get their sneakers dirty. The note of reticence is introduced by the pretty-but-sanitized vocal combination of Shaw and Blades. They harmonize to best effect on the violin-inflated ballad “High Enough.” (Why is it that lately so many hard-rock bands have their biggest hits with simpy, completely atypical ballads?) With Damn Yankees, it’s the guitar sound, snarling like a chained attack dog, that sets their debut apart. For that reason, this record does more to enhance the rep of Nugent, the Motor City Madman, than it does the other participants.
This is a very smooth, homogenized effort. Thank badness, Ted’s around to sprinkle a little pepper in the buttermilk. (Warner Bros.)