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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Nazareth

Big Dogz

Review by Gary Hill

One look at the cover of the new Nazareth disc gives the impression that the band is looking to get back to their roots. It really looks a lot like a classic Nazareth album cover. Well, the music inside is closer to that 1970s sound than anything they’ve done in a while. It never really reaches the aggressiveness of some of their classic period, but there’s a real blues rock sound here that’s all Nazareth. They chose to record the album with a stripped down, not over-produced technique that makes for a stronger release, or at least one that’s more genuine. All in all, this is quite a potent album that should please the band’s longtime fans. There are a couple weaker tracks, but even those aren’t bad.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Big Dog's Gonna Howl

A droning sound gives way to a bit of a melodic classic rock sound. Steeped in blues, this powers out into a harder rocking jam that’s classic in its riff based, bluesy rock. This might not be as aggressive as Nazareth of old, but there’s no mistaking it as Nazareth. It’s a killer tune and includes some great melodic guitar sounds. The arrangement and song progression are deceptively complex and this is a great one.

Claimed
While the main concept isn’t changed here, this is a smoking hot rocker that’s had the melodic side removed from it, at least as compared to the previous number. It’s still quite bluesy and hard rocking and this feels like old school Nazareth, and perhaps even a bit like Led Zeppelin or the Yardbirds.
No Mean Monster
This has some of that Led Zeppelin feeling, but also classic Nazareth built into it. There’s some great slide guitar and while, again this doesn’t feel as aggressive as some of the older Nazareth, it would have fit nicely on some of their classic albums. The title, of course, is a play on their old No Mean City album.
When Jesus Comes To Save The World Again
Incredibly slow moving, this reminds me a bit of “Don’t Bogart Me.” It builds very slowly and there’s tons of blues built into it. It’s got a lot of that Zeppelin feeling to it, but also plenty of classic Nazareth.
Radio
There’s more energy to this, but it’s far from aggressive or metallic. In fact, it’s probably one of the least typical of Nazareth to be heard. It’s got a definite classic rock texture and is quite melodic. I’d go so far as to say that parts of it feel a bit like progressive rock. It’s a good tune, but not one of my favorites. However, it does add a needed bit of variety and there’s some tasty guitar soloing onboard.
Time And Tide
Another slow moving tune, this is quite a tasty piece. It’s definitely bluesy and definitely classic Nazareth. It’s all about reminiscing on a life going by over the years. It’s a good tune, and another that calls to mind Zeppelin, but not one of the standouts. There’s a cool melodic jam later. There’s a cool false ending that leads to a reprise.
Lifeboat
This is another bluesy hard rocker that’s quite cool. It’s not all that different from a lot of the music here, but it’s also quite strong. In other words, while there aren’t a lot of elements to differentiate it in a track review, it’s one of the highlights of the set. It’s catchy and tasty.
The Toast

This really doesn’t sound that much like Nazareth. It’s tasty, but it’s also jazzy and a little odd. It’s not a bad tune, just kind of atypical and not up to the rest of the music here.

Watch Your Back
A mean number, this is bluesy and there’s also a killer boogie element to it. This is one of the highlights of the set, and might be the best piece here. It could easily have fit on one of the classic Nazareth discs. It’s a real smoker. There are a few changes and alterations, but this is one of the most aggressive numbers here and one of the most successful. There’s a cool, and rather unusual, slide guitar solo in the middle of this, too.
Butterfly
A mellow and quite poignant ballad, this is pretty and very tasty. It serves as a nice change and seems even more sedate following one of the hardest rocking cuts of the whole set.
Sleeptalker
They saved one of the best for last. This has a definite hard edged, nearly metal feeling to it. In terms of pace it might not be the most aggressive tune on show, but it’s got a lot of meat. There’s a space rock meets prog rock kind of section later and this really feels a lot like classic Nazareth. It’s definitely one of the best tracks on show and a great choice for closer.  
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