Andy Solomon – Organ, Piano, Vocal
Greg Arama – Bass
Ted Nugent – Lead Guitar
Steve Farmer – Rhythm Guitar, Vocal
Dave Palmer – Drums
John Drake – Vocal
Regardless of what one feels about Ted Nugent’s political views, it can’t be understated what a damn good guitar player he is. He isn’t Hendrix or Clapton good, but he left some pretty memorable riffs on Journey To The Center Of The Mind. This is a great album in my humble opinion, a perfect psychedelic album for the late ’60s. It is interesting that the original name of Amboy Dukes had to be altered with the word American, because there was a band in England with the same name, as not to be confused with the “American” Amboy Dukes. Needless to say, at least for me, this record is classic psychedelia, with some hints of early heavy metal. Nugent would work out his sound to launch himself into quite a career later on.
The album was all original songs, written entirely by Nugent and Steve Farmer. Side one was the standard album set up of songs, with side two meant to be listened to continuously as a concept album. The first song Mississippi Murderer is perhaps the only bluesy one on the album, with the rest being an experimentation into psychedelic guitar, with the usual use of the organ, so prevalent of the music in the era of the late sixties. The lyrical content was not the radio fluff of sappy boy girl relationships, but was more deep, exploring the themes of the times. Nugent was supposedly against the whole drug scene that was so much a part of the counterculture of the late sixties, but taking a good look at the album cover, and a sharp listen to the lyrics, one would assume otherwise. I guess we have to take Uncle Ted at his word, as he has always stated that he was not into drugs.
The most memorable guitar piece on the record is on Scottish Tea, a wonderful sound that stays with me long after I get done listening to it. It is one of the most recognisable riffs in all of late sixties psychedelic music. Uncle Ted makes the guitar sing. Goosebump time for sure, at least for me. If you listen to Flight of the Byrd, during the guitar solo in the middle of the song, there is the essence of Eddie Van Halen’s distinct sound, before there was an Eddie Van Halen. Good stuff!
As was stated before, the second part of the record is the Amboy’s attempt at a concept album, and a pretty good one at that. Their one major hit, Journey to the Center of the Mind, was basically understood to be about an acid trip, not a really surprising notion to bring up in a song around this time in the psychedelic sixties. This record is simply outstanding for the time it was released, at least I think it is, and I never tire listening to it.