Top positive review
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Simply Stunning - one of their best ever.
on 21 April 2011
It's not often that I find myself blown away by a brand new album however every once in a while a superb record like Big Dogz comes along and really blows away the cobwebs.
Following 2008's sterling comeback 'The Newz' I had been aching to hear what the band had up their sleeves however I honestly didn't expect the band to better the last one. After all Nazareth have been rocking around the world constantly for 43 years now. And that's not 43 years on and off either. It's been non stop for the band, year after year. If you're not that familar with Nazareth's back catalogue and have read the Big Dogz press release I guess you'd be forgiven for thinking that they must surely be short on new ideas and it must be just hype for the sake of nostalgia. The best thing is Big Dogz doesn't sound at all cliched or laboured in the slightest, infact it's so fresh it could be mistaken for a bands debut.
Everything you want from a great rock album is all here. For starters the production is positively stunning, Dan McCafferty's vocals are perfectly placed inside the mix whilst Pete Agnew's bass simply shines from start to finish. Pete is a fantastic bass player and only ever plays what the song needs, it's a real treat to hear his playing cut through so well, you don't have to try and get into the groove because with Big Dogz your already there. It really is like experiencing the band play in the studio in front of your very own eyes which needless to say is absolutely awesome.
It's also worth heaping well deserved praise on long term guitarist Jimmy Murrison and drummer Lee Agnew for their efforts in ensuring this album is a winner throughout. Although The Newz had some utterly brilliant moments 'Big Dogz' essentially sounds more of a full throttle band effort. The whole album flows so well and never loses it's way. The title track cleverly creeps in, you know you're gonna be spoiled from the moment Pete's bass starts rumbling. Both 'Claimed' and 'No Mean Monster' are incredibly catchy. The latter is all about Fred (the famous monster from the No Mean City sleeve) and its just terrific. The monster's laugh at the end of the track is both hilarious as it is novel. The deepest and most thought provoking song on the album has to be 'When Jesus Comes To Save The World Again'. It's structure reminded me a little of Vigilante Man from Razamanaz although that's where the comparison ends. This track along with the tender beautiful ballad 'Butterly' is a sheer masterclass in singing from Dan McCafferty. As far as I'm concerned if you gave the same lyrics to any other singer on the planet not one of them could even come close to Dan's interpretation of these songs. He really is the master even at his age. I am both stunned and thrilled that he can produce stuff of this quality some 40+ years on. As you familiarise yourself with all these songs you really do get the feeling that a lot of craft and skill went into it, it's obvious the band cared. The feeling emitted from the glorious vocal on Butterfly really has to be heard to be believed, dripping in emotion this is clearly wonderful stuff.
For the more heavier (but still melodic) moments of the album 'Watch Your Back' & closer 'Sleeptalker' really grab you and take your breath away. I found Watch Your Back to be a real singalong. This track is all about the sad state of youth gang violence, it kicks major arse and rocks harder than anything the band have recorded since the 70's.
There's a few other tunes I haven't mentioned yet most notably 'Time And Tide', 'Radio' and 'Lifeboat'. All strong tracks, Radio being the most commercial song on the disc whilst Lifeboat is a hilarious dig at sleazy, mendacious politicians.
As I mentioned at the start of my review albums like this don't come around very often and it's an added bonus that the artwork and packaging is also sublime (I bought the 2CD digipack but have also seen the vinyl which again is a deluxe product).
Do yourself a favour and purchase Big Dogz. If there's a better album released in 2011 then please tell me as I'd love to hear it.
Thanks for reading,