Saturday, 16 June 2018

Nazareth - Exercises (1972)

Woke up this morning....


Released July 1972

Like Thin Lizzy, Nazareth spent two albums searching for their rock muse. On this, their second, they went folk and acoustic orientated as opposed to hard rocking blues. Many bands were taking a similar approach in 1972, so it was not too much of a leftfield turn. Mott The Hoople’s “Wildlife”, Wings’ identically titled but differently spelled “Wild Life”, T.Rex’s “T.Rex”, Slade’s first two albums,  Rod Stewart’s first two albums, Thin Lizzy’s first two albums, Free’s “Highway” even “Led Zeppelin III” and parts of Bowie’s “Man Who Sold The World” and “Hunky Dory” were all examples of groups “going folky/laid back. Then there also bands like The Strawbs and Blodwyn Pig. It seemed like bands all thought they had to be a cross between The Band, CSNY and “Nashville Skyline” era Dylan.


1. I Will Not Be Led
2. Cat's Eye, Apple Pie
3. In My Time
4. Woke Up This Morning
5. Called Her Name
6. Fool About You
7. Love Now You're Gone
8. Madeline
9. Sad Song
10. 1692 (Glencoe Massacre)                        

“I Will Not Be Led", the extremely over orchestrated low key opener, would have sounded ok on one of Elton John’s early albums, but here it just seems like a criminal waste of Dan McCafferty’s voice. “Cat’s Eye, Apple Pie” is a quirky, folky tune that sounds a bit like The Band. It has its appeal,  but Nazareth as we would come to know them it ain’t. “In My Time” sees a modicum of blues rick creep in, with a more gritty and powerful vocal and some good lead guitar. “Woke Up This Morning” is also impressive, but nowhere near as good as the rocking howler it became when re-recorded on “Loud And Proud” two years later. It still has a satisfying chug in this incarnation though.

“Called Her Name” has some potent, riffy, heavy guitar and drum parts but also some whimsical acoustic passages, orchestrated bits and some CSNY harmony vocals. Its not a bad effort, but again, not the band we came to know. Played live, however, it is much heavier, a real rock song. “Fool About You” is a Strawbs-style country stomper with acoustic guitars and bass drum. “Love Now You’re Gone” is based around a powerful synthesiser riff, and a convincing vocal but the lightweight, wistful “Madeline” has you wanting to tell the band to pull themselves together, get some whisky down them and start bloody well rocking. It does, however, have an acceptable mid-paced rock fade out which redeems it somewhat but, Dan, those vocals. Get gargling with some razor blades, big man.

“Sad Song” is, unfortunately, similarly feeble, vocally, and again, too orchestrated. It also ends just as it is getting going. “1692 (Glencoe Massacre)” has the band going historical and singing of their Scottish history, with slightly predictable military drum rolls. Again, Dan McCafferty’s voice doesn’t do itself justice,as on all of this album. Quite what happened between this album and the next year’s hollering performance on “Razamanaz” is a mystery.

The sound on this latest remaster is excellent, but, as with many of these albums, it will only get an occasional airing.


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