Album review for Nazareth’s ‘Big Dogz’

Nazareth Big DogzNazareth
Big Dogz
Eagle Rock
5 stars

By Dave Thompson

Incredibly, and somewhat soberingly, Nazareth has just passed its 40th anniversary — sobering, because readers of a certain vintage will remember when they were viewed as one of the younger whippersnappers on the hard-rock circuit, and incredible, because you are barely 30 seconds into Nazareth’s latest album, and every one of those years has just fallen away. That’s how long it takes for frontman Dan McCafferty to unleash the trademark growl/lascivious leer that he patented back on the first Naz album, and that has not sounded this good in decades.

This is a stunning album without a doubt. Eschewing anything remotely approaching the traditional tenets of a ’70s rock band reborn for whatever we call this particular decade (the teenies?), “Big Dogz” is all stuttering riffs, guitars the size of Glasgow, wide-open spaces and broad sweeps of eclectic energy that refuse to be nailed to any particular period of Nazareth’s past.

The dense blues of “When Jesus Comes To Save The World Again,” the pounding swagger of the title track, the nuanced nostalgia of “Radio” — Nazareth still boasts two founding members: McCafferty and guitarist Pete Agnew — and still packs the humor that always kept the band so buoyant in their youth. “The Toast” could be — and probably will be — sung at every show the band plays from now until the end of time. The closing “Sleeptalker” bucks the modern-day insistence that an album’s finest cut should be the first one because nobody listens to whole discs anymore; it delivers one of Nazareth’s most remarkable numbers ever.

It gets so depressing sitting, living in the past, waiting for old heroes to even try to deliver something new. But Nazareth has done it, and so what if “Big Dogz” isn’t the new “Loud ’n’ Proud?” Regardless, it’s gonna razamanaz all night long.

2 thoughts on “Album review for Nazareth’s ‘Big Dogz’

  1. This is just a horrible effort! There are countless bar bands who can conjure up better musicianship and the “songwriting’ is sophomoric drivel at best. You’d think that with the amount of experience under their belts, McCafferty and Agnew could regurgitate something more worthwhile. The”Growl/Leer” sounds more like a esophogeal cancer patient than a first level rocker.

  2. Band is still able after 45 years in the business to come up with decent tunes … in which, for several of them originality is still present (somehow here a good balance of new and old musical material) ! Was fun to listen to Big Dogz. Compare to what we are force to hear on Top forty radio now… It is sort of an oasis or time capsule… and somehow, a recall of what it was way back making a album when the music industry was still free. As for others Nazareth album, don’t look again for absolute perfection in musical performance … Roughness was one of Nazareth trademark. In my case, I would give a special mention to the songs Butterfly and No mean monster. Now do watch down the road for alternate, live, edited or extended version of songs on this album… As his usual, band will came up for sure with interesting new versions of original material first offered. Dan voice on this album still for sure doing the job … Actually it is impressive after all those years of cigarette, alcohol and Scotland air (the latest being of course one of the secret element in Dan exclusive tenor type of voice) . Certainly wish I would have inherited of same kind of powerful tool or vocal cords ! I would have done for sure a rock and roll career as well !

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