Friday, 2 August 2019

Nazareth - Hair Of The Dog (1975)


  

Released on 30 April 1975

Running time 40.34

This was the last in the run of four excellent Nazareth albums in the seventies. It was their most successful, commercially. Originally, it was to be titled "son of a bitch", after the hook line on the title track, but US censors objected to that, puritanically. Even the track itself had its title changed in the same way.

Deep Purple's Roger Glover was no longer on production duties, but the sound is pretty much the same - hard rock but with an ear for a killer pop chorus and elements of folk here and there. Overall, though, it is more heavy and less pop/rock than their previous offerings.

TRACK LISTING

1. Hair Of The Dog
2. Miss Misery
3. Guilty
4. Changin' Times
5. Beggars Day/Rose In The Heather
6. Whiskey Drinkin' Woman
7. Please Don't Judas Me
8. Love Hurts

BONUS TRACKS

9. My White Bicycle
10. Holy Roller
11. Railroad Boy                                        

"Hair Of The Dog" is a magnificent opener, kicking off with a "Honky Tonk Women" cowbell before a big, chunky riff and Dan McCafferty's gravelly voice arrive. The chorus - "now you're messin' with a son of a bitch" is irresistible. "Miss Misery" is a classic, industrial-strength heavy rocker, with Deep Purple-esque guitar and a soaring vocal. "Guilty" is a slow, bluesy ballad, with small hints of The Rolling Stones' "Love In Vain" and "No Expectations" about it. It is a cover of a Randy Newman song. "Changin' Times" is so Led Zeppelin it could almost be them, let's be honest here. McCafferty's voice is so damn good, however, that he also makes it a Nazareth song. After all, it is their song, it is just very "under the influence". The guitar/drum section at the end, as it speeds up, is superb. This is some of Nazareth's most impressive instrumentation.


"Beggar's Day" is another massive monster of a heavy rocker, full of thumping bass and Purple power riffs. This is some of the heaviest stuff Naz had laid down in their career thus far. After four minutes it morphs into the synth, spacey strains of the instrumental "Rose In The Heather", enhanced by some excellent buzzy but melodic guitar.

"Whisky Drinkin' Woman" is as clich├ęd, lyrically, as the title suggests, but no matter, because it is searingly hot, musically - blues rock heaven. "Please Don't Judas Me" is a typically Nazareth slow blues number in the style of their cover of Bob Dylan's "The Ballad Of Hollis Brown". It is actually over nine minutes long and, you have to say, completely uncommercial. Indeed, save for the title track, the album had been composed of serious "album"-style tracks - deep and heavy, not many "Broken Down Angel" or "Shanghai'd In Shanghai" type tracks to be found. The album ends with the hit single, the band's cover of "Love Hurts", which is delivered in grandiose fashion, with a great guitar solo in the middle.

The bonus tracks contain another couple of hit singles - the fuzzy guitar-driven cover of sixties psychedelic rock number "My White Bicycle", which is entertaining and the melodic rock of "Holy Roller". Both these tracks would have been fine additions to the original album and significantly altered its character. "Railroad Boy" was a 'b' side and is a chugging, but no less impressive rocker. Without the bonus tracks, the album is heavy but ever so slightly in need of vitality. The bonus tracks give it just that.

B-

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