Addicted To Vinyl Musical thoughts from the open road, with headphones on


CD Review: Nazareth – Big Dogz

I'm pleased to welcome longtime MusicTAP site editor Matt Rowe to ATV for a guest review of the new Nazareth album Big Dogz (which will also be available on vinyl). MusicTAP is a longtime favorite destination of mine for music reviews and release news, so it's a pleasure to have Matt's words here on the site. Enjoy!

Being a fan of Nazareth through their many albums (no, I didn't love them all), I have determined that when they hit the gong well, they really hit it. Razamanaz (1973), Hair Of The Dog (1975), Loud 'n' Proud (1974), and Rampant (1974) were strong albums in the golden age that were tough to beat. Although I preferred Razamanaz over them all (and still do), I've never ruled out the potential of any of their albums.

The release of The Newz in 2008 left me feeling good about aged classic rock with new material from a band that actually recorded during the period, and so it was with much hope that Big Dogz would adhere to the blues/rock quality that permeates a good Nazareth album. And it does to a good degree. There are eleven songs on the album, with several excellent tracks that are pure Nazareth. The opener track, "Big Dog's Gonna Howl" musically offers a Nazareth experience, if not a pure one. But it is necessary to get to the final two songs on the set to immerse a bit deeper into the Nazareth experience that is familiar to fans.

Nazareth - Big Dog's Gonna Howl by Eagle Rock Entertainment

"Butterfly", is a reflective ballad that drips with love for a girl that was unable to stay. We've heard this stuff from Nazareth before and so we can go with it when we hear it "again". The final track, "Sleeptalker", now THAT'S Nazareth. Which is why it's so odd to see it buried all the way down at the end. It's here where the album earns its patch with excellent guitar work by Jimmy Murrison even as the album (like The Newz) still misses Manny Charlton. Charlton's guitar-work were as distinctive of early Nazareth as McCafferty's voice is. McCafferty's voice now, while admirable for a 65-year old, doesn't have the range it used to have but that doesn't impact a new Nazareth album in any way.

The remaining songs on Big Dogz, all the ones that lead up to the last (and important) two, are good efforts. "Claimed", and "Radio" are a couple very good tunes. What makes the final two so important is that they reveal that this band hasn't finished making good albums. They may not be Razamanaz, or Rampant, or even Hair Of The Dog from their prime years, but as a fan, Nazareth can still satisfy a classic itch.

  • stereo dictator

    Good to see Nazareth still plugging away.

  • gogmagogical

    You sold me. I have somehow fought the completist urge and stuck with simply Hair of the Dog all the years but have held Razamanaz in my hands more than once in a record shop, knowing it would lead down a slippery slope and leave me wondering if it was worth the leap. I’m ready to jump. Thanks for the review – looking forward to hearing this – and more!

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