Those grizzled Scottish veterans that call themselves Nazareth are back once again with a kickin' follow-up to their solid The Newz from a few years back, this one called Big Dogz. The band find themselves now on Eagle Rock Entertainment (a very good home I might add), and the music on the CD packs a mean bite, more than living up to the ferocious looking pups that adorn the cover. If you haven't followed the career of Nazareth over the last decade or more (hard to believe these guys have now been around for about 40 years), the current line-up is comprised of original members Dan McCafferty (vocals) & Pete Agnew (bass), plus drummer Lee Agnew and guitarist Jimmy Murrison.
The band have gone through many styles over the years, including hard rock, proto-metal, blues rock, pop, and even some 'electro-pop-new wave' during a low period in the mid 80's. Thankfully, the band churn out here what they've always done best, and that's heavy rock. Most of the more popular albums in the Nazareth discography were made so by two main ingredients; the leather lunged vocals of McCafferty and the crunchy guitar work of Manny Charlton. It's safe to say that 'ol Dan sounds as gravelly & powerful as ever, and Murrison is just as capable of delivering the heavy riffs as Charlton, but is possibly an even better soloist. Album opener "Big Dog's Gonna Howl" is a bluesy, riff heavy masher, littered with McCafferty's menacing growl and plenty of beefy riffs and searing slide guitar. "Claimed" has power chords that remind of the classic "Miss Misery" from the Hair of the Dog album, while "No Mean Monster" is hard rocking blues all the way, featuring tasty guitar licks and a locked in groove from the Agnew family. "Radio" is a catchy pop rocker featuring a great McCafferty vocal, and the rootsy "Time and Tide" proves to be a fantastic vehicle for the textured guitar stylings of Murrison, with some poignant lyrics about life on the road for aging rock stars.
Other highlights include the heavy rockers "Lifeboat", "Watch Your Back", and "Sleeptalker", while the catchy "The Toast" reminds a bit of the more accessible fare on the Malice in Wonderland album from 1980. Throw in a few decent ballads, and you have a varied and quite enjoyable release from this hard rock institution.
Big Dogz should dispel any ideas that Nazareth are nothing more than a nostalgia act touring the world with a greatest hits set of songs from 25-30 years ago. This band has consistently recorded new material throughout their career, and they are arguably making better original music now than have since the early 80's. Don't believe me? Check this scorcher out. The members of Nazareth might be getting up there in age, but they can still crank out high quality hard rock music.
- Big Dog's Gonna Howl
- No Mean Monster
- When Jesus Comes to Save the World Again
- Time and Tide
- The Toast
- Watch Your Back