CD Reviews

Nazareth - 'Big Dogz' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     July 02, 2011    
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The Scottish legends are back!

The Scottish legends are back! After issuing the phenomenal comeback album 'The Newz' in 2008, there was speculation how long fans would have to wait for more new material - would it be ten years, like it was between 'Boogaloo' and 'The Newz'? Fortunately not! Here we are in 2011 and the Naz have eleven brand new songs for us.

I put this album on with a bit of trepidation. I'll freely admit I'm no die-hard Naz fan - I have no problem with them but it wasn't until 'The Newz' that I really appreciated their work. I loved that album to bits, I voted it my 'Album Of The Year' for 2008. So could 'Big Dogz' follow it up? The ingredients were all there - same line-up of stalwarts Dan McCafferty and Pete Agnew, alongside Lee Agnew and Jimmy Murrison. Same producer. Same result? Er - not quite.

'Big Dogz' differs from 'The Newz' in the approach - it's sparser in its arrangements. The title track opens the album and it's a heavy plodder - after a few spins I got to like it, but for me, personally, it isn't the best choice for opener. It's got a good riff and it pounds its way along, but not with any real pace. 'Claimed' is another good heavy rocker but also has the lumbering pace. McCafferty sounds excellent with his mean rasp and the band play with plenty of menace - the songs are certainly suited to the sparser style.

'No Mean Monster' kicks things up a bit with Dan singing impressively high, before things come down with the epic 'When Jesus Comes To Save The World Again'. Opening acoustically and building into a six and a half minute tour de force, this is one of the album's centrepieces.

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'Lifeboat' is worth a mention for its relentless beat and lyrical comments about crooked politicians, and there's some great riffing from Murrison here. My personal favourite is the boogie driven 'The Toast', a great feelgood tune that ups the tempo considerably.

What I did find about the album is it's more laborious than 'The Newz'. I put it on shuffle one day and realised that there isn't actually a song I dislike on here. However, I feel the order the tracks are in means too many songs of similar tempo follow one another early on. That criticism aside, it's still got some fine tunes on, and I can't help thinking I'd be more impressed if this had followed 'Boogaloo'. As it is, it followed one of my albums of the year, and as a result is suffering in the comparison stakes. It's almost like it's being struck by 'the difficult second album' syndrome, despite being their twenty-second!

James Gaden

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