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Nazareth - Greatest Hits

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★★★½☆
(12 Reviews)

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  • Ah, the wild, wild North of Britain! Home to such rowdy legends as the Animals from Newcastle, Jethro Tull from Blackpool, and who can forget those “darlings of Dunfermline”–Nazareth!
    Long before The Bay City Rollers came along to polish and “pretty-up” the image of the Scottish pop star, rock critics were dismissing Nazareth’s music as “dog food”. But like every good Scot, the band pressed on doing their own thing, caring not what some “frisco bay scribe” thought of them, but winning converts of many American rock fans who related to the folk-influenced, country-leaning, hard-rock boogie anthems of an overseas unit many Americans could easily mistake for their own. This “greatest hits” collection gives you that sense from start-to-finish. Early band compositions like “Shanghai’d in Shanghai” and “Go Down Fighting”, with their repetitive sloganeering and driving rhythm, make Nazareth sound like the sort of band that AC/DC inspired to be (which they were, minus the honky-tonk leanings of songs like “Holiday” and “Broken Down Angel”.) “Go Down Fighting”, in particular, is an anthem for anyone who ever had to stand up to a bully in their life (and come to think of it, could have been a poor man’s anthem for Scotland, in general–a nation with a history of being bullied herself. “I can fight dirty when I’m scared”–in deed!) To me, the most intense, relentless Nazareth rocker of all has to be “Razamanaz”. Having never seen this band in concert before myself to know for sure, I would have to assume this song was a standard concert opener, and if it was, I would have to rate it right up there with “Footstompin’ Music” by Grand Funk Railroad as far as great, lively opening numbers to get the fans pumped up and excited for the show. If “Razamanaz”, with its bone-crunching, fast-paced boogie doesn’t move you, you don’t have a pulse! But that could possibly be the influence of the producer on “Razamanaz”, Roger Glover from Deep Purple, because the song bears a striking resemblance to the Deep Purple number, “Speed King”–Roger possibly encouraging the band to write a hard-and-fast number in the same vein.
    I would never really consider anyone in this band to be an “ouststanding” musician, but they all contributed to make a good collective product. Funny, as much as the Brits cite the influence of American blues in much of their playing, very few were as adept at playing slide guitar as Nazareth’s Manny Charlton. And the slide playing throughout many of the songs on this collection is of the quality that would have even made the likes of Joe Walsh or Duane Allman smile! And there’s the singer Dan McCafferty–I’m not sure, but I’m beginning to think having a “raspy” voice is a Scottish thing! Rod Stewart, Bon Scott, and Dan himself. I suppose some Scots are just genetically-predisposed to sound like they swallowed razor blades. Dan’s voice can be downright painful to listen to at times!
    And of course, there are the obligatory hits on this collection–”Love Hurts” and “Hair of The Dog”, but for those who have never heard the rest of what makes Nazareth so great, once you give those other songs a listen, you will forget those two hits easily–I promise! Nazareth, like so many others from the 70s, like Free, Mountain, and Thin Lizzy, had so many great songs, if you only ever heard the one-or-two the radio plays, you are really missing out. This bands music is so catchy, and their arrangements so tight, it will grow on you instantly. Virtually every number is almost a sing-a-long. Buy this “greatest hits” collection, and you will have a hard time taking it off your CD player for weeks!

    Posted on December 31, 2009