'No Means Of Escape'
Legendary Scottish rockers Nazareth have been in the news quite a bit recently, from last year's Rock'n'Roll Telephone and the retirement of original vocalist Dan McCafferty, to the London show earlier this year featuring new and current vocalist Carl Sentance.
Dan's original replacement, Linton Osborne, recorded several old classics with Nazareth but these remain unreleased, and extensive touring included this rare London, UK show at the Metropolis Studios in Chiswick, in the west of the city, close to the Thames.
Originally The Shaddettes ,a ballroom covers band, in the late 60s, the band changed their name to Nazareth in time for their eponymous debut released on Pegasus (Warner Brothers or Phillips in other territories) in 1971.
A series of strong tours and charting albums, including 'Razamanaz' and 'Loud & Proud' which were both produced by Deep Purple's Roger Glover, 'Expect No Mercy', 'Snaz' (one of the best live albums by anyone ever) and more recently 'Boogaloo'.
Article continues below...
Classic tracks like 'Bad Bad Boy', 'Razamanaz', 'Broken Down Angel', 'Hair Of The Dog' and covers 'This Flight Tonight' and 'Love Hurts' have given Nazareth many a hit and they have become a staple of both radio and stage.
Their bluesy, ballsy hard rock with Dan McCafferty's distinctive gravelly vocals, able to mix Metal and rock ballad with aplomb, made the band popular over the years. The band originally featured vocalist Dan McCafferty, drummer Darrell Sweet, guitarist Manny Charlton and bassist Pete Agnew.
A change of guitarist or two over the years, including Billy Rankin and SAHB's Zal Cleminson, Darrell Sweet dying on tour and Dan McCafferty's retirement due to ill health, the line-up on this DVD features guitarist Jimmy Murrison and drummer Lee (son of Pete) Agnew alongside the aforementioned Pete and Linton.
This show, originally reviewed here, was attended by fans who had bought special tickets, and included an exhibition by artist Rodney Matthews who was in attendance. Rodney designed the sleeve for the classic 'No Mean City' album and has re-imagined the character Friendly Fred for the artwork here.
This DVD kicks off with the Metropolis live show and opening track 'Silver Dollar Forger', with its classic fuzzy guitar and catchy rhythms open. The band connect well with the small crowd, and the sound is solid and rocking. In fact it is a lot tighter and smoother here than it was on the night.
The more recent 'Sleeptalker' and 'Rock'n'Roll Telephone' follow, with Linton clearly enjoying the moment, shaking fans' hands between songs. 'Razamanaz' picks up the pace, the guitar work excellent, the bass work driving too.
'May The Sun Shine' from 'No Mean City' sees Jimmy pick up the acoustic guitar; another excellent track that sees Linton's vocals fit in well, working well with the band's backing vocals. A rare bit of variety in the setlist, a track to be relished, but it does suffer the lack of a second guitarist.
'See You See Me' keeps up the acoustic feel, another great track too oft overlooked. From the opening chords of 'Turn On Your Receiver' you know it's a wonderful rocker, and the band are starting to look more comfortable on the small stage, shaking the nerves, warming up - it shows.
From then on there's the odd break between tracks, a laugh and joke with the audience. 'Bad Bad Boy' sees Linton stray a little from McCafferty's template but it works, enjoyable with the neat slide guitar.
The harsher and more recent, and still lovely 'One Set Of Bones' moves into Joni Mitchell's 'This Flight Tonight', always a firm fan favourite and deservedly so.
That finishes the main set, at 44 minutes (WTF?), and the audience far more muted than it was on the night. The band return for an encore of 'Hair Of The Dog', 'Love Hurts' (a tired song and one of Dan's own - I wish the band would drop it, something fellow scribe Dave Ling has already bravely put the band) and the wonderful up-tempo 'Expect No Mercy'.
There the live show finishes; seven tracks short, the bravest set list I've known Nazareth do and it's a third off. No 'Dear John', 'Miss Misery', 'Shanghai'd In Shanghai', 'Hearts Grown Cold', 'When The Lights Come Down', 'Radio' or 'Holiday'.
The sound is good, smooth, TOO good. I know the sound on the night had its issues in places, but I was there -you can hear and see me in the audience - and you don't need to hear the original rough mix, which I have got, to realise just how much has been doctored, even redone, post show.
Linton's vocals are largely as they were but the rest rather more polished. It's a shame that this takes the shine off the evening.
The bonuses here are really worth checking out. A studio acoustic recording, an interview with Dan and Pete, and a segment labelled Superfans (for which I was interviewed).
The Live performance is excellent, editing aside, and while the added polish does make it feel a little dishonest, the editing grates more.
The aforementioned bonus segments do add serious value and are exclusive, making this value for money before you add in Rodney Matthews' excellent cover work.
I admit I'm being harsh, but as the former fan club editor I am more au fait with the band and the material than most. I am also being honest, because as I no longer have that official connection, I can be. And as a writer, I should be.
Too many will say "It's not Nazareth without Dan and/or Manny"; that's too easy, cheap and lazy, I'm not going there. There is still more than enough there that seriously rocks, and is pretty damn good. It's Naz. Enjoy.