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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Nazareth – Big Dogz album review

Nazareth – Big Dogz album review
Released on: Eagle Records through ear Music. Release date: Available now.
You know, back in the UK, I grew to really enjoy a load of Nazareth’s material, first getting into them properly around the ‘No Mean City’ period, after seeing them on the UK’s staple for pop / rock fans, the sadly mimed BBC, ‘Top of the Pops,’ but as kids and teenagers we all seemed to love it, as our once weekly regular TV chart show.

It was ‘May the Sunshine’ and ‘Star’ that both featured in the UK charts, but the track I loved from the album was ‘Whatever You Want Babe.’ Then discovering ‘Expect No Mercy’ – The album prior to ‘No Mean City’ – I loved the bands cover of ‘Gone Dead Train.’ Thought it was great!
Of course the band was already loved for the freaky, ‘My White Bicycle,’ as well as ‘Razamanaz,’ ‘Bad, Bad Boy,’ ‘Broken Down Angel,’ ‘This Flight Tonight,’ ‘Hair of the Dog,’ ‘Love Hurts’ and I could go on for ages, seriously, they had loads of hits in the early 70’s.

After ‘No Mean City’ came – For me – the absolutely excellent ‘Malice in Wonderland,’ produced by Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter, that really grabbed me after I first heard ‘Holiday.’ What an absolute killer song!
I liked ‘Fool Circle’ after that too and there were a few more good ones that followed too, but here we are, it’s 2011 and what can Nazareth offer us today? Well, sadly, I’m sorry but ‘Big Dogz’ is not a good album, it’s OK at best.
I've seen reviews elsewhere that praise it up as a return to their classic sound, but I really encourage fans of the band to PLEASE check out samples first ... Then make up your own mind on whether to buy it or not ...

‘Big Dogs’s Gonna Howl’ opens the album and it starts by creeping up with some gentle harmonics and then the big riffs kick in.
It’s a slow steady groove and at first this didn’t really grab me, but it’s not sounding too bad now, but nothing spectacular.

  Next track ‘Claimed’ really doesn’t progress a lot more and it sadly starts to feel like it’s a plodding number.

OK, ‘No Mean Monster’ does pick things up, but the chord structures sound a little odd generally and Dan McCafferty’s vocals these days, although sounding as down and dirty as ever, sound …, are odd here in places.
Really don’t know what to make of this at all …, unless they are trying for a more progressive type sound, if so it’s not sounding quite right to me … Sorry guys.

‘When Jesus Comes To Save the World Again’ next, I don’t really know how to take this one, as it starts with an almost Pink Floyd like laid back acoustic groove and the vocal is presented in a haunting fashion.
Then it gets a kind of blues groove, when some edgy guitar kicks in with the drums and then it eases back to the acoustic / vocal part again and it does this one more time, but it really doesn’t do enough to really grab me.

Things try to pick up again with ‘Radio’ as the tempo is mid paced and Dan sings about all of 'our' favourite songs played on the radio, and I must admit I do like the bridge around the halfway mark, but other than that it’s …, really …, just OK.

‘Time and Tide’ starts slowly and kind of has an almost haunting feel, then the song kicks in proper and it …, really doesn’t go anywhere. It goes on with the stop start styling here and there and tries some time changes in the second half but it’s dare I say, not quite enough to do much.

 I hate to say it, but ‘Lifeboat’ again tries to pick things up, but it seems a very average song.
Sorry, it really just is and the album just continues to not really impress at all. Shame, as there’s a lot of good, historic work from Nazareth, so it’s a shame …

‘The Toast’ next at least start’s with a sense of humour, with a stand up statement, ‘Right then, on behalf of the band and the crew, I’d like to make a toast!’ Amusing … It an up tempo number too that kicks in, but with Dan singing about being, ‘ …all being too drunk,’ I wonder if the guitar solo was meant to sound terrible and all over the place, as it’s really pretty bad. I'm kind of surprised ...
It finishes with a similar tongue in cheek comment too. Hmm, not so sure about this one at all …

You know, I heard Dan McCafferty singing on the all star Pushking release not so long along and thought he sounded alright, but on here sadly I’m sorry, he does not sound too hot and on ‘Watch Your Back,’ it’s quite clear and you almost wonder if it influenced how the band played and presented themselves as I seriously don’t find this album a patch on previous releases and that’s a real shame.
I hope Dan is well and not sick, as this album kind of comes across as if he is struggling more than I’ve heard before.

‘Butterfly,' is a ballad that one of those that’s not too bad, kind of soulful blues and Dan gets through it.

Album closer here is ‘Sleeptalker,’ a mid-paced rocker, that then hit’s a bridge and haunting solo and changes to a slow paced number with some talking in a mocking fashion from various folks and I wonder if it’s meant to be based on Dan as a kid and supposed to be his folks doing the talk over here?
It really kind of an odd track to be honest, I don’t know what else to about it or how else to describe it.

So overall, this is a really disappointing album with just one or two tracks that to me are pretty average, so sadly hence the score this one picks up. I wish I could tell it differently … I've really loved this band in the past.

 Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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