Nazareth. Yes, Nazareth. Remember that long forgotten name that was buried under the weight of the popular 70's riff crunching powerhouse bands like Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith and Black Sabbath? I do. It seems like a vague memory for some. It's kind of easy to see why...These Scottish rockers never stood out above the crowd, instead they blended into the rock and roll scenery like a chameleon on a branch. It wasn't just they sucked. They might not have quite the talent like Zeppelin, nor the flamboyancy like Queen and Aerosmith, yet they certainly had some moments of glory. Among them was their sixth studio effort, Hair of the Dog, released in 1975.
Hair of the Dog was the first album I ever picked from Nazareth. As a young teenager, I got excited of hearing the boisterous title track, marveling at the uncensored chorus of "Now you're messing with a son of a bitch, Now you're messing with a son of a bitch" over the loud relentless guitars combined with a smoking bass solo on the radio. Then there was the beautiful Everly Brothers cover of "Love Hurts". Singer Dan McCafferty's trance like singing of this wholesome ballad was repeatedly requested on the radio by love struck girls requesting it for their boyfriends to the point that I wanted to beat my head against the wall like a schizophrenic having delusions. Nevertheless, it is a great tune taken in moderation.
The rest of the album should not be ignored, for it divides its time between similarly pulverizing hard rock fare and some intriguing experiments with the group's sound. Notable tracks include "Miss Misery," a bad romance lament driven by a doomy riff worthy of Black Sabbath and my personal favorite, "Changin' Times", a throbbing hard rock tune driven by a hypnotic, circular-sounding guitar riff ending with a monstrous solo by Manny Charlton. A big big highlight is "Please Don't Judas Me," an epic tune about paranoia that trades heavy metal riffs for a spooky, synthesizer-dominated atmosphere that is further enhanced by some light, Pink Floyd -styled slide guitar work.
Some may argue to what is the best Nazareth album. Razamanaz, Expect No Mercy and No Mean City are all fine albums, but Hair of the Dog remains the most popular. It has sold two million copies worldwide. To top it all, it is a necessity for Nazareth fans and anyone who loves 1970s hard rock.