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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Nazareth

Rock 'n' Roll Telephone

Review by Gary Hill

This album might be the swan song for Dan McCafferty in terms of his work with Nazareth. His health is not great and COPD has forced him to stop touring with the band. He managed to record this disc, though and he has not completely closed the door on recording further albums with them. His departure, though, will leave Pete Agnew (bass) as the sole remaining original member.

The thing is, this album feels like a transitional one to me. It’s a very strong album. It’s just that the sound at times stretches into more modern texture than I’m used to with Nazareth. I love Nazareth and have enjoyed every one of their albums over the year. So, I love this one, too. In fact, in some ways I might like it better than a lot of them. I mean, it captures the Nazareth spirit, but also brings some inventiveness and freshness to the formula. You really can’t beat that.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Boom Bang Bang

Noisy guitar riffing gives way to a rather modern sounding rock groove. This is sort of like classic Nazareth delivered with a modern metallic rock edge. The instrumental section on this is a real twist. It has a neo-classical epic metal vibe to it. That’s a new sound for Nazareth. The jazzy, funky sound after it is different, too.    

One Set of Bones
That metallic texture is all over this, too. This is one of the heaviest things I’ve ever heard from Nazareth. It’s very crunchy and very powerful. It’s still recognizable as Nazareth, mostly through the vocal arrangement, but it’s definitely a different sound.
Back 2B4
Long time Nazareth fans will probably be a bit more comfortable here. This has a definite classic rock feeling to it. Still, there are a lot of modern elements at play. It’s more of a balladic tune in some ways, but it has a lot of energy and a driving rhythm section.
Winter Sunlight
Here we get the full on ballad treatment. This piece is rather magical and really feels like vintage Nazareth.
Rock N Roll Telephone
This mid-tempo bluesy rocker really has that classic Naz sound. It’s got a bit of a metal crunch, too, but overall this is a soulful song like only Nazareth can do it. There’s a reason it’s the title track. It’s one of the best tunes here.
Punch a Hole in the Sky
This is more aggressive. It definitely does a great job of combining a vintage Nazareth sound with a more modern metal element.
Long Long Time
Some scratching and other hip hop elements start this. The cut comes in from there with an almost modern R&B meets pop sound. It’s a bit of a shock for long-time Nazareth fans. As this evolves there are some hints of modern progressive rock, but in a lot of ways it makes me think of Prince quite a bit. Still, it gets a Nazareth flavoring to it.
The Right Time
A slower, mellower cut, this combines classic rock with blues and even some country. It has some nice slide guitar and flows quite nicely.
Not Today
Combining a real riff driven sound that’s classic Naz, this has more of that metallic edge to bring into the modern era. This is perhaps the most perfect mélange of the two sounds here. This is so meaty and it’s one of the real highlights here.
Speakeasy
A real classic Nazareth sound is all over this rocker. It’s got a great energetic groove and is just plain fun.
God of the Mountain
A powerhouse grind, this is another that combines a metallic edge with that classic Nazareth sound.
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