Like the game of snakes and ladders,these 2 discs contain plenty of downs with only a few up,mostly on disc 2 (NO JIVE),it was poor end to the 80's and a quiet start to the 90's.
Disc 1 SNAKES AND LADDERS (1989) after the superb CINEMA(1986) release,this is a bitter disappointment,like so much of their 80's output trapped with lifeless production and electronic drum programming,ultimately the band's sound was nuetered.For the most part average tracks such as 'Trouble','The Key' & 'Back To School' wander around lost in a world thats neither rock nor pop,mainly pap.Others such as 'Animals' and 'the particularly purile 'Donna Get Of The Crack' are an abomination and should never have been commited to tape.Highlights ? not many,but i'll plump for the heartfelt vocal on 'Helpless',the stirring 'Piece Of My Heart',i agree with the notes in the booklet,with the right production this could have been a hit single,in the early 80's Whitesnake vein,finally the blues pastiche of 'Lady Luck' gets pass marks.That 2 of the best tracks are covers,says it all,the band was spent,something had to give,sadly it was Manny Charlton.
Bonus tracks... 3 in all, a cheesy eurovision song contest wanna be 'Winner on the Night(just who was advising these guys at this point? ) plus 2 live tracks 'Woke Up This Morning/Bad Bad Boy,which being nowhere near the fire in the belly performance of yester year are still more than capabale of blowing away the rest of the disc. Probably the poorest Nazareth disc ever.. 1.5 stars
Disc 2 NO JIVE (1991) released on the Mauseleum label,quite apt as the band's recording career was almost dead,this certainly has a few decent moments,i wouldnt neccesarily agree with others that its a bona fide classic.Certainly the opening trio of 'Hire and Fire/Do Yo Wanna Play House and Right Between The Eyes' roar out of the speaker,and thank the gods,we have drums,real drums which put meat on the bones of these song,plus the fire from Billy Rankin,on what was his first Nazareth album,as sole lead guitarist.Unfortunately it all peeter's out quite tamely with the likes of 'Keepin Our Love Alive','Thinkin' Mans Nightmare' etc , while 'Cover Your Heart/Cry Wolf are just poor.The album is redeemed with the excellent 'RowanTree/Tell Me You Love Me with its BIG COUNTRY Celtic charm while 'Every Time It Rains' is the albums stand out track.
Bonus tracks ...2 of them ,the single version of 'Tell Me You Love Me' and a pointless ,lacklustre 'This Flight Tonight 1991. 3.5 stars
Nazareth are probably my favourite band,But even i admit they have made 3 average cd's,Which in their long career isn't a bad percentage(More than a 40 year career)If anyone is interested the "Average" cd's are;Exercises,The Catch & Snakes n Ladders.Now as Dan Mccafferty states on the booklet that comes with this double cd Snakes isn't a bad cd to listen to, It's just over produced,I found the production very flat.The cd does have strong tracks on it,But the production just spoils the whole cd for me.The criminal in charge of the production is someone called Joey Balin.However this double cd is worth the money just for the brilliant cd "No Jive",This cd has long been a Nazareth fan favourite,I don't feel this cd has a weak track on it,But if i had to pick favourites they would be;Hire And Fire,Do You Wanna Play House & Right Between The Eyes.The main difference with this offering is the great production,Which was handled by the band themselves.A great offering well worth the price,Go get it !