A Wild Excursion

Following the unexpected success of their 1968 single, “Journey to the Center of the Mind,” the Amboy
Dukes come at you in a fiery reckless manner on their 1969 album “Migration.” The music isn’t
sloppy—it’s turbo-charged, fervid, energetic.
Let’s start off w/ the band members. Up front we’ve got Ted Nugent on lead guitar plus
occasional percussion & vocals. He’s also written four of the album’s nine songs. Ted’s not the Motor
City Madman yet, but he is the standout performer in the band.
Rusty Day is an exciting lead vocalist.
Greg Arama is the fellow on bass guitar & bass vocals.
Dave Palmer plays lots of drums w/ enthusiasm.
On keyboards & horns we’ve got Andy Solomon.
Steve Farmer on rhythm guitar.
Everyone sings, at least a little.
Okay. Let’s go through the album, song by song.
Side One starts off w/ “Migration,” written by Nugent, a dynamic 6-minute instrumental that
features the Nuge on electric guitar. His pals join in eagerly,
“Prodigal Man,” also written by Nugent, is a wild excursion through a rock & jazz wilderness.
The words seem to be loosely based on the Biblical story of the Prodigal Son, who here ends up “sneakin’
around the corner drugstore, robbin’ all the old men blind.” An exciting & unruly sequence of smooth
instrumental solos on organ, bass, drums, & guitar drive this song to its chaotic conclusion. One of my
Next up is “For His Namesake,” written by Steve Farmer. It’s a reflective piece about how
parents need to listen to their kids & try to understand them. It’s also about a changing world, where
“Money’s been replaced by happiness.” The kids are all doing things that the parents can’t understand, &
they’re having a grand old time. “Old ideas will never die until the old are dead,” is one comforting line.
By the end of the song, the older generation HAS passed on, presumably leaving the world peaceful &
The band changes gears on Side Two, kicking things off w/ Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers’ hit
song from 1956, “I’m Not a Juvenile Delinquent.” The Dukes, led by Andy, sing it pretty straight, but
you can tell by their snarky attitude that they really ARE juvenile delinquents.
This adolescent criminality is transformed drastically into “Good Natured Emma,” another wild
rocker written by Nugent. These songs are exciting, & “Emma” is a perfect example. You’ve got
undomesticated fully-charged guitar, shimmering organ, passionate vocals—& on top of that, it’s a love
song, as the singer implores Emma, “Don’t make your plans for less than two.” Another one of my
absolute faves.
“Inside the Outside,” is a thoughtful piece written by Steve Farmer. The singer doesn’t seem to
fit in anywhere, but he decides that “Nothin’ is too big to do, if you see it in a little way.” The song ends
w/ guarded optimism.
“Shades of Green and Gray,” is another contemplative Steve Farmer composition. The singer
looks at the world going by, the people in it, & doesn’t understand their motivation, all that greed. The
song starts slow & builds to a climax. Not quite so optimistic.
Andy Solomon is responsible for “Curb Your Elephant,” an example of a rhythm & blues song
played w/ outrageous syncopation. The drums, guitar, organ, horns help the singer (Andy) tell his tale.
Actually, he’s telling his woman that he’s got to have it his way or no way at all. He’ll “try not to
misbehave,” although he’s gonna be himself, live life his way, but she’d better not try to leave him.
Closing the album is “Loaded for Bear,” yet another wild Ted Nugent song. The singer’s having
a rough day, a rough week too, but says “I’ll never leave home again unless I’m loaded for bear,” some
good advice.
A few years later Ted Nugent takes over as band ringleader; that, & many personnel changes, turn
the Dukes into a different band w/ a different sound. Greg Arama dies in 1979. Rusty Day joins the band
Cactus, but is murdered in 1982. Meanwhile the Nuge has developed into a sort of cartoonish &
opinionated (though extremely talented) guitarist, stage performer, & recording artist. And he’s still
going, bless him.

-John Berbrich