The Amboy Dukes' catalogue is an exploratory route that eventually brought them to the stadium hard rock sound of Ted Nugent's solo career. They formed as a garage rock band with British beat and American blues strongly in the mix. They hit success with the title track of their second album "Journey to the Center of the Mind", scoring a top twenty hit. Shortly after, vocalist John Drake was out of the band and Rusty Day (later vocals for Cactus) took the lead mic.
While the second album had been mostly a heavy psych / pop psych blend, "Migration" sees the band extending their creative psychedelic approach into an almost heavy prog territory at times but still following a psychedelic route. The title track starts the album, an almost space rock, psychedelic instrumental with Nugent's lead guitar at the forefront. "Prodigal Man" is quite a track with a heavy prog approach - rhythm changes, odd time signatures, Nugent blazing around the fretboard, and Day's powerful, gravely vocals. There's an unexpected drum solo thrown in which is thankfully short - appreciable for both skill and length.
"For His Namesake" is more of a psychedelic rock number. A quick pace with harmony vocals, the song is about a boy being moulded to represent the family name at its reputable best. Organ and piano feature strongly but there goes another Nugent solo.
If there's an experimental branch to this album (there most certainly is), "I'm not a Junenile Delinquent" is the farthest reaching twig. A short number, it's done in 50's doo-wop style with the sound even like an old album recording. I'm not sure who does the lead vocals here but it's in falsetto; hard to imagine Rusty Day singing. Maybe it's Steve Farmer (rhythm guitar).
"Good Natured Emma" - one of the songs often to appear on Dukes' compilations, features heavy psych guitar, organ, and a soulful vocal approach. The bridge is a like a segment of a musical with Farmer and Nugent singing "Livin' in the woods", before another early Nugent solo sears through the middle of the song. This song makes me think of "Jesus Christ Superstar" or "Hair".
"Inside the Outside" keeps that musical feel but with an Iron Butterfly sound somewhere close to "Metamorphosis" but with a bit of "Ball" tagged on. The guitar is heavy in certain passages but the song also has soul and funk to it too.
I'm going to guess that Andy Solomon wrote and sang "Shades of Green and Grey" as it is basically a piano number with vocals with bass and percussion accompaniment. Some really scratchy fuzz tone guitar appears partway through for a few bars before the close of the song. Typical song of the times. More interesting is the funky "Curb Your Elephant" with horns. Rusty Day is almost unrecognizable until his trademark howl comes in. Not a track to impress fans of proto-metal but a well-executed piece in the style of post-Purple Glenn Hughes.
The final track of the original album is "Loaded for Bear" which amusingly begins with guitar effects emulating an elephant and features an almost Uriah Heep-styled falsetto vocal intro before abruptly transforming into a jaunty and groovy rocker. Solomon and Nugent trade licks in the instrumental part and the album concludes with guitar effects and party dialogue.
Two bonus tracks, "J.B. Special" and "Sobbin' in My Mug of Beer" are actually from two years prior and feature Drake on vocals. Guitar driven rockers, they bear the classic garage rock sound and certainly stand apart from the rest of the album.
"Migration" is an interesting musical adventure and there's no denying the interest of Ted Nugent's lead guitar work. However, I found some of the songs from the previous album better represented the proto-metal sound. From what I've heard, the next album is even weirder. Perhaps it's also important to mention that the Repertoire reissue calls the band The American Amboy Dukes. As it turned out, there was a British soul group also called The Amboy Dukes. Not exactly a proto-metal main feature but a good album for fans of late-sixties rock and Ted Nugent.