on March 12, 2006
This is Ted Nugent's best album. It's also interesting because of the diversity of involvement including vocals from Meat Loaf, Derek St Holmes, and Ted himself and some diversity in the songwriting credits. Ted writes 6 songs by himself but other band members cover the duties for three others. It helps because Ted's writing has always been somewhat limited by his habit of writing everything in the key of A minor because of the advantages this gives to guitar players. A number of songs on this album are in this category as were a few on the first album. The other songwriters bring different structures to bear which I think actually better showcase Ted's guitar playing by providing a better backdrop for his solos. The other reviews refer to the Derek St Holmes departure and return while this was being made. St Holmes was back some for Cat Scratch Fever, but was gone for good after that. Ted had taken over all control at that point and the lack of any real creativity is sadly evidenced on all further albums. But, back to this album:
1. Free for All - One of Ted's songs but a little different than his usual structure. An excellent opener.
2. Dog Eat Dog - Ted's A minor stuff but very solid. Lyrically, he had not yet degenerated to writing all the rhyming yank me crank me garbage. There's some interesting visuals conjured by the song.
3. Writing on the Wall - Son of Strangehold but more diverse and filled with powerful vocals from Meat Loaf.
4. Turn It Up - Ted's again but this is a fun little ditty.
5. Street Rats - Ted's A minor stuff again but again really solid. As above, he was putting some efforts into lyrics and I have always remembered the phrase "post-war anti-social" as a reference point for a more realist and cynical opposition far beyond the idealism of the anti-war hippies.
6. Together - Best song on the album. A proto power ballad. Written by the drummer, Cliff Davies, and the bass player, Rob Grange. Some great work by Ted on guitar. Great vocals by Meat Loaf. Very un-Ted-like but it's a beautiful song.
7. Light My Way - A Derek St Holmes / Rob Grange rocker that gives Ted a great backing riff to solo against.
8. Hammerdown - A heavy rocker written by Ted (in E minor another guitar friendly key) with Meat Loaf providing very strong vocals.
9. Love You so I told You a Lie - A Cliff Davies tune that is a great closer to the album. Meat Loaf again does great work.
Overall, this is the last album when it appears there was any counterwight to Ted's ego. Ergo, it's the last really good album. Cat Scratch Fever had a few moments but it was pretty much downhill from there. I am reviewing this because I recently purchased the remastered version of some Ted songs to make my own personal best-of and realized that I was buying every song from this album. And, they still sounded fresh to me. It's a shame that there wasn't a way for the band to co-exist because the other members had complementary talents that made it posible for Ted's guitar work to be highlighted better.
Originally released in 1976, as 'Free For All' was Nugent's second solo record. Wasn't quite as good as his first self-titled lp, mostly because of the exit from the band of rhythm guitarist / vocalist Derek St. Holmes JUST prior to the recording of this album. It's still decent, though with Nugent classics like the title track "Free For All", "Dog Eat Dog", "Street Rats" (until recently, I haven't this tune in years) and the in-your-face "Hammerdown". You get the lp's nine original tracks, with three bonus cuts tagged on. Nice.
on October 30, 2011
Although sandwiched in between his classic albums (Ted Nugent, Cat Scratch Fever, and Double Live Gonzo respectively), Free For All is a very strong disc from Ted Nugent. All of the albums Ted did with vocalist/guitarist Derek St. Holmes were his best but during this time they were at odds during the recording process. Therefore, Meat Loaf contributes his distinctive vocals to some of the tracks and does a fine job. As for the songs, all of them are very good with no mediocrity to be found. The title track is the most well known song and is one of his best. Featuring one of Ted's most memorable lyrics and a ton of hooks, this is a classic that Ted and his band continue to play today. His guitar work is killer as usual, taking the fast paced rockers "Turn It Up", "Light My Way", and "Hammerdown" up a notch. "Street Rats", "I Love You So I Told You a Lie", and "Dog Eat Dog" are also strong tracks with a lot of attitude. On the epic "Writing on the Wall", Ted tries to replicate the awesome vibe that made "Stranglehold" special and while it doesn't reach those heights, it's still pretty good. "Together" is a very good ballad and with its piano and theatrics, plays a bit like a prelude to the sound that Meat Loaf would gain fame with on Bat Out Of Hell. Free For All is one of the best from the Motor City Madman and is definitely worth owning if you like `70s hard rock.
on May 7, 2011
Nugents 1976 sophomore record is actally probably better than the first, although the debut record holds a high place because of its large batch of rock staples, Free-For-All has less known songs but theyre all pretty good. The title track being the hit and most known cut here, its still a classic for party rock fans. Dog Eat Dog being the other popular radio cut here it has a great riff, slightly heavier than anything off the first record. The rest of the album is very inspired however its more or less famous for featuring Meat Loaf on vocals on a couple songs via the producer. This was due to St Holmes getting into musical squabbles with Nuge and temporarily leaving the band but he did rejoin during the recording. This is of course was pre 'Bat Out Of Hell' Meat Loaf and his appearence here makes a big difference and adds a nice variety in the songs, along with St Holmes on vocals as well, it really comes off as more of a band album before Nuge would actually take over the spotlight, making it the last record to do so. Writing On The Wall is the first Meat lead vocal spot and it is pretty much of a rewrite of Stranglehold but with a little more versatility happening. Its a good song for sure. Turn It Up features some great groove rock sections and Street Rats, another Meat Loaf sung track is a semi Nuge classic. Together is the most unique song here, like the first albums jazzy inspired song You Make Me Feel Right At Home, an attempt to give some diversity in the proceedings, its a slower keyboard laced number that also features some firey guitar work via Nuge and a highlight vocal from Meat.
Of course anyone over anaylzing Nugents work wont find a whole lot of "critic praised" type rock, Together is one of those moments which revealed some more depth in Nugent's cannon. But before long, the band returns to its 'baby baby' blooze rock with a fun track Light My Way and its no different for Hammerdown a more chugging rocker that adds some fuel to the pack of songs, a gritty vocal from Meat Loaf also kicks this one into high gear. Its really cool to see Meat Loaf singing hard rock and makes one wonder what if. Closing the album up with I Love You But I Told You Lie, at first glance seems like a filler giving its benign title but its actually a fun and somewhat anthemic rocker. Once again Ted Nugent and band werent making respectable rock operas here its straight forward 35 min rock n roll albums and if you have any respect in your hard rock/heavy metal collection, Free For All is essential. A gem of a party rock n roll album that never lets up.
on March 17, 2015
I have the original vinyl of this, but my turntable is dead, and so I wanted a CD of it. I had not listened to the whole album in a long, long time. I was even shocked to read liner notes informing me that Meatloaf sang four of the songs. News to me.
on March 27, 2011
Ted was on a role and he released another classic disc filled with great songs like 'free for all' And he had meatloaf as a lead vocalist. This one was just dynamite and fans of the day loved it making it another solid hit for him. Imo ted made five
truly classic discs in a row : 'ted nugent' , 'free for all' , 'cat scratch fever', 'double live gonzo' and 'weekend warriors' his previous two were darn good two with the amboy dukes but he was at this time a major worldwide sensation and rightly so, his melodic metal was a blast and alot of fun and he had a monster band behind him all the way. I can't understand how any 70's metal fan would rate this lower than a five star. There's not a weak song on here even songs like 'you make me feel right at home' are good in their own nonjammin way.
on September 20, 2010
Free for All is a single disk. Ted Nugent continued overcoming the limits which resulted in an album full of energy. Emphasis on music Free for All, Dog Eat Dog, Writing on the Wall and Together. Disc recommended for those wishing to experience the true sound of Ted Nugent.
on January 5, 2007
I'll concur with an earlier reviewer that Nugent benefitted tremendously by the checking/influence of Derek St. Holmes. His best work certainly came from his collaboration with St. Holmes. For my money, Nugent's 1975 debut is a hard rock jewel that still stands up well today and is a classic.
Free for All, Nugent's follow-up, is far from a flop, however. With St. Holmes leaving during the recording of the album, Ted got a little-known (at the time) Meat Loaf to sing vocals. While this may seem unlikely to work and mesh with Ted's style, it actually is a very solid production. Meat Loaf is a tremendous vocalist and has a golden voice, and he shows it here, especially on the ballad Together, which (as another reviewer mentions) is a forgotten jewel. I like the energy of Turn it Up and the seedy/menacing sounding Street Rats. The two live tracks tacked on (title track & Dog Eat Dog) plus the St. Holmes version of Street Rats are nice additions.
An excellent effort and a great addition to anyone's 70's hard rock classic collection, I rank Free for All slightly behind Ted's self-titled debut, and ahead of the next effort, Cat Scratch Fever. From there on, Ted went unchecked and descended into efforts that couldn't hold a candle to his work from '75-'77. Good stuff, go get it!
on October 24, 2009
5 Stars = Masterpiece
In 1976 Ted released what is his heaviest album (next to "Craveman) in the 70's," "Free For All." If there was ever an aptly named album, "Free for All, is the one! Here, Ted takes his great "Ted Nugent" album, & cranks it up two frets! This sharp toothed crocodile just rocks my world, with killer songs like the gigantic "Dog Eat Dog," a monster from the Nuge if there ever was one! The titular song "Free for All," with its incessantly catchy rhythm guitar! "Writing on the Wall,"& its mountainous thick soaring leads, a real heavyweight out of many heavyweights here. "Turn it up," yeah; the song title says it all! The beautiful "Together," a ballad Ted did not want on the album, but I'm sure as hell glad it's there! "Hammer Down," another song that is aptly titled! Last, & maybe least "I Loved You So I told you a Lie," still potent Nuge, but it seemed to lose a little focus. The album also featured on some songs the fine voice of one Meatloaf, which was a plus.
"Free for All" may be my favorite Ted album. It sure is the dark horse of his three immortal masterpieces of the 70's, "Ted Nugent," "Free For All," & "Cat Scratch Fever." It is an album that still shakes my ear wax loose today, & hey, that's a good thing (I think), & the album is...well... IMMORTAL!
on January 11, 2006
Thats right. When Ted Nugents first lead vocalist decided to quit half way through production of the second album, The Nuge found himself in sort of a jam. He knew the licks that he had for this second album were god damned nasty, and tasty at that. He knew the public needed some crazy riff rock to party to, and get blitzed to, while they drove around in their GTO's and watched the girlies in the super super tight dyed jeans. But who was gonna sing? Nuge really wasn't about to... not yet anyway, eventually he would take on his own vocals, but not yet. The time was not right. So, who, in 1976 do you get to complete a metal/riff/sleaze record? Who else.. MEATLOAF! Thats right Mr. Two out of Three Ain't bad, Mr. Paradise by The dashboard light, Mr. (going this far) I would do Anything for Love but I won't do that.... MEATLOAF!
Crazy right? Well, The Nuge was a crazy dude. FREE FOR ALL, in my ears, may be Ted Nugents greatest album. Meatloaf was a great singer, and when you hear him singing "without a doubt, I'll whip it out" over crazy rock riffery, you are gonna just wanna go and PARTY! Get this disc, it's a wicked good time!