Before we were enthralled by the raspy, gravel of Rod Stewart's vocals, before the power of AC/DC or the boogie feel of ZZ Top, there was Nazareth.
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Coming out of Scotland in the late 60's as part of the initial British hard rock invasion which was started by Cream and Deep Purple, Nazareth combined the cement-mixer vocals of singer/frontman Dan McCafferty with the power chord driven music of bandmates Pete Agnew on bass, original guitarist Manny Charleton, and drummer Darrell Sweet. The music they created was based in emotion as well as power and combined British hard rock with old-fashioned American rhythm and blues. Hit singles in America and Europe like "Love Hurts" and a cover of Joni Mitchell's "This Flight Tonight" along with memorable albums like "Razamanaz", "Loud 'n' Proud" , "Hair of The Dog" and "Expect No Mercy" helped make Nazareth one of the most important rock bands of the 1970's.
In the 1980's, the band continued to make forceful albums, but the musical climate, and personnel changes overshadowed the fine music the band made on albums like "The Fool Circle", "Snaz" and "2XS". The band continued touring both America and Europe throughout the 80's and 90's and recorded new albums that enjoyed more success in Europe than in the States. Charleton left the group and was replaced by young Scottish guitarist Billy Rankin and former Spirit keyboardist, John Locke. These two have since been replaced by guitarist Jimmy Murrison and keyboard player Ronnie Leahy, who, along with McCafferty, Agnew and Sweet make up the current Nazareth line-up.
"Boogaloo" is Nazareth's first album in 5 years, their first for CMC International Records - and the wait has been well-worth it. The album took its time being made, but it is Nazareth at its best with dynamic hard rock riffs and melodies fronted by some of Dan McCafferty's best vocal performances in many years. "At this stage in our careers," says Dan McCafferty, "we're not really concerned about being huge again, but it certainly would be nice to be back on the radio." The title track, and first single, "Light Comes Down" is vintage hard rock from the lyrics to the force of the rhythms, while "Open Up Woman" and "Waiting" are riff-driven melodies that should quickly become added to the band's long list of fan favorite classic hard rock tunes. They, as most of the songs on "Boogaloo," are evidence of the wisdom in the additions of Murrison and Leahy "Nothing So Good" is as close to a ballad as McCafferty's vocal intensity allows. " During the 80's," explains McCafferty, "there was so much done with modern technology that rock music lost some of its feel. On 'Boogaloo' we just went into the studio and played like a live band. It felt good and that's why it sounds so good."
With a number of bands of this genre and generation proving their relevance as we approach a new century, the time seems perfect for Nazareth to return to the forefront of hard rock in America. Two decades is nothing when you are talking about genuine rock and roll for the ages.
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