sexta-feira, 20 de maio de 2011

CD Review: Nazareth - Big Dogz

CD Review: Nazareth - Big Dogz (by Ricardo Guilherme)

Never judge a book by its cover”, i.e. "Never judge a person by his appearance." Or if you prefer, "appearances can be deceiving." Whatever term you prefer to use, the life experience of a fan of Band Nazareth has certainly shown that this is a wise thought.

Now I will say something a little different: never judge an album by its cover. This goes 100% when it comes to Big Dogz, the 22nd studio album of these friendly and competent Scots. The image brought on the album cover (a kind of angry four-headed Scooby-Doo) will, in principle, give you the impression of a clumsy and ferocious piece of work, made for those who do not really care about lyrics, harmonies and melodies, but, rather about power decibels.

Sheer mistake. Nazareth has always been a very versatile band, which, while admittedly very keen on hard rock, has walked through several musical styles during their career. However, the group has never been into blues as much as in Big Dogz.

Relax, this is not a bad thing!

Yes, there are hard rock songs, such as the funny No Mean Monster and the explosives Watch Your Back and The Toast, but what really pleases in the album is the beauty of the arrangements and the interpretation of the musicians, especially the voice (increasingly hoarser) of Mr. Dan McCafferty, who, at 64, is still impressive.

When we hear No Mean Monster, indeed, it is impossible not to imagine the monster to which the song refers (Fred, used on the cover of album No Mean City, 1979) dancing awkwardly across the city streets, scaring some and amusing others, right in the style of Michael Jackson’s Thriller. This is a track to hear at full volume and enjoy a lot. Watch Your Back has small solos reminiscent of the blues as well, but at a fast pace in a rather rock’n’roll atmosphere. Also, with a very nice swing to it.

Sleeptalker also starts out pretty hectic, but from a certain point, the rhythm changes. That's where the exquisite work of Jimmy Murrison comes in and also in the production of Yann Rouiller. Psychedelic guitar solos put you in the mood of the music. You feel like the actual guy who talks in his sleep, and travels in his dreams and nightmares, hearing voices that overlap between sleep and wakefulness. It's the track that closes the album. And it does so with plenty of class.

In Big Dogz, Dan McCafferty no longer abuses of his vocal range, but shows having developed new skills. Now he sings less with his voice and more with his soul, quite in a blues style. In When Jesus Comes In To Save The World Again "and "Butterfly” Dan moves us with riveting performances. Axl Rose really knew how to choose a good idol.

The talent of the other musicians is also present, although the highlight is downright McCafferty. His friend Pete Agnew shows a nice rapport with the bass on several songs, especially the opening track Big Dogz Gonna Howl. He also stands out on the backing vocals, along with his son, Lee, and guitar player, Jimmy Murrison. Actually, Murrison, bears the burden of replacing great guitar players, but he has done a very mature work here, saving no efforts in technique, not only with his instrument, but also in co-producing the album.

It's hard to say how far Dan and Pete will be going on the road. The co-production, delivered to Jimmy, and the songwriting, all credited to Lee on the label's website (Edel Records), gives us the impression that the veterans intend to convey to beginners the "brand" Nazareth in the near future. We can only hope that when they do so, their replacements meet up to their standards, which will be no easy task.

Another interesting thing: it is hard to believe that the still young drummer Lee Agnew has really made all the songs by himself. The lyrics of some of them require a lot of maturity (in life) and refer to a clear nostalgia, such as the potential success of Radio. Dan and Pete must actually have participated in the compositions. They are just giving up their authorship. As well as opening the gates of Nazareth for the arrival of their second generation.

It's one more studio album by a live rock legend, which already has nearly half a century on the road. You simply cannot let it go unnoticed.

Five stars!


Track List:

Big Dogz Gonna Howl
Claimed
No Mean Monster
When Jesus Comes To Save The World Again
Radio
Time and Tide
Lifeboat
The Toast
Watch Your Back
Butterfly
Sleeptalker


(Translated into English by Luciana Gomes:  lutgomes@terra.com.br )

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