on 30 January 2006
This album has often been cited as a weak album from the Scottish rockers, but in actual fact it isn't at all bad. The album seems to have a aire of acceptance about it and maybe founder member Manny Charlton had already decided to call it a day long before this album was committed to vinyl. The songs lack the urgency and vigour of previous Nazareth recordings, but there is still much to admire from this album.
The album opens up with the tracks Animals and Lady Luck, traditional Nazareth rockers that will set your pulse racing and whet your appetite for more to come. Sadly, the rest of the songs don't quite live up to the promise of these tracks. The songs Trouble and Donna - Get Off That Crack are very good songs with a very doom and gloom feel about them; Trouble in particular has a very catchy drum beat and deep sounding guitar riff that will certainly make the track a favourite from the album. Another stand out track must be the cover version of Piece Of My Heart, made famous by Janis Joplin. The song gets the Nazareth cover treatment aguably as well as Joni Mitchell's This Flight Tonight, and Dan McCafferty's superb vocals keep the rawness of Joplin's version alive. The rest of the tracks are sadly a little mediocre. The urgency and power seem to have left Dan McCafferty's vocals for these songs and the music has a very 'through the motions' feel to it without any of the classic Nazareth melody and power. That's not to say that they are bad songs, it's just that Nazareth have done so much better and maybe these tracks have become a victim of their own high standards, even when you compare them to the strong tracks from the same album.
So in the eleven tracks from this album (original track listing), you have two Nazareth stormers, true classics that stand up to Nazareth's best; you have three tracks that are very good and will be pleasing to the ears and you have six tracks that vary from quite good to average. So in other words, half of this album is excellent and the other half is filler material.
You certainly get the feeling that this album was recorded by a band that didn't know where they were going from this point, but thankfully they carried on and made some superb albums after this one. As for Snakes 'N' Ladders, it is not a weak album by any means; compare it to a lot of recordings from other bands and it still sounds better than most. The problem comes when you compare it to other Nazareth albums, and their own high standards means that this album doesn't quite meet expectations. I would advise you to judge for yourself though, one man's poison is another mans vice, or so they say.