Album Reviews

Nazareth – Big Dogz

Released By : Ear Music

Genre : Classic Rock, Blues Rock

Links : http://www.nazarethdirect.co.uk/nazareth/


Tracklist:

01.  Big Dog’s Gonna Howl

02.  Claimed

03.  When Jesus Comes to Save the World Again

04.  Radio

05.  No Mean Monster

06.  Time and Tide

07.  Lifeboat

08.  The Toast

09.  Watch Your Back

10.  Butterfly

11.  Sleeptalker


I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for NAZARETH…. As popular as they are they never really quite became a part of elite but they have always remained consistent over the course of their forty odd years together. Sure a lot of their stuff sounds the same, and many of their songs are interchangeable from album to album, but bands like the mighty AC/DC have been getting away with that sort of thing for years. NAZARETH’S comeback album in 2008 THE NEWZ followed in the same footsteps as it’s many predecessors but it was also a really good classic blues based rock album that trumped a lot of others that year. A mere three years later and the band hae delivered us their latest creation BIG DOGZ, and while it’s once again more of the same it is a bit better than the previous one and is one of the best straight rock albums so far this year.

The best part of this album? The vocal work of Dan McCafferty, who at the ripe age of 65 still has one of the best pure whiskey-soaked hard rock voices in the game, and has stayed consistently good for all these years. Co-founder and partner in crime bassist Pete Agnew also provides something a little special here and I’m sure it was a conscious decision by the band to ensure that the bass was a little higher in the mix than what it usually is on a straight up rock record. In places this album feels a little heavier than the band’s previous outing, but also feels a little more organic and the bluesy swagger really accentuates the excellent songwriting on offer.

Speaking of the songwriting, man is there a few real gems here. There’s a handful of songs that don’t really need to much of mention here as they are all good, classic blues rock tunes that all fit into the NAZARETH style quite well, however I do want to make a note of a few tracks that really demand some extra attention. Firstly WHEN JESUS COMES TO SAVE THE WORLD AGAIN, which is a real slow number that reminds me of FREE in their day and if you study the lyrics you’ll find it’s not the preachy gospel song that the title makes it out to be. THE TOAST is a great little number that features somebody (I’m guessing it’s Agnew but I could be wrong) making a toast to us all on behalf of the band and the crew, the only gripe I have with this song is that it would have been an absolute perfect album closer and is too early in the tracklist, especially the way the song ends with a spoken gesture of “Cheerio….could you let Mr. McCafferty know that his taxi’s here”. RADIO is a highlight and features an awesome retrospective type vocal that will appeal to all of those that can remember the days before computers and mp3 files. It brings back memories for me of sitting down at night with a cassette recorder, listening to the radio and trying to record all the songs I liked, all the while cursing the DJ for talking too long into the intro of the song….anybody else have fond memories of doing this? Though the convenience of sitting in front of a computer and instantly being able to access any song you could ever desire, there’s still something about the lost art of sitting around the radio that can never be replaced by anything else, this song does a perfect job of emulating that feeling. But above all of these though is my total stand-out tune CLAIMED which is to my ears one of the best songs the band have ever written. It features a perfect mix of agro, swagger and soul and I just love the vocals in the chorus which sound like a more melodic and trained version of Brian Johnson, it also has a total kick-ass riff that follows the melody of the vocals perfectly.

Put simply BIG DOGZ is one the best pure rock albums you’re likely to hear this year and is one I know I will go back to often, especially to compare any other releases in the genre that I may review in the future. It’s classic NAZARETH, but with everything you love about them even better than usual. If you got into their comeback album THE NEWZ, you’re in for a treat as this one trumps it in every way, oh and in case you didn’t realize yet, this album is highly recommended….go and get it now!

Written By ZeeZee

Rating : 9/10

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