Friday, June 11, 2010

Lost Classic - Nazareth - Razamanaz

No, I’m not trying to turn the Ripple Effect into my own personal Nazareth tribute page, but my review of their awesome 1973 album Loud N Proud seemed a little lonely. And since Razamanaz, also from 1973, has been my #1 album the past few weeks I figured it would be a good companion piece. What was in the water (or weed) back in 1973? How did Nazareth come up with two killer albums the same year of Raw Power, Houses Of The Holy, Space Ritual, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, Quadrophonia, Dark Side Of The Moon, Larks' Tongues In Aspic, Tres Hombres, etc?

Right off the bat, this album comes out swinging hard with the killer title track. “Razamanaz” is pure no bullshit kick ass ROCK - hard and fast with a killer groove and amazing drumming from Darrell Sweet. Singer Dan McCafferty says they were embarrassed to play this song for producer Roger Glover because it borrows so heavily from Deep Purple’s “Speed King.” Nazareth toured a lot with Deep Purple and they saw the effect of that song on the crowd and couldn’t resist. Roger didn’t mind and we’re all better off for it. This is one of the greatest songs of all time to blast in your car. It can turn even the most mundane trip to the grocery store into a boogie van ride to glory. The Meatmen used to do a scorching version of “Razamanaz” to open their live shows. Who says that Tesco Vee isn’t a class act?

The rest of the album is no slouch either. "Alcatraz," written by Leon Russell, is another stomper with a Native American influenced drum beat and killer guitar riffs from Manny Charlton. Blackfoot fans will no doubt love this one. Woody Guthrie’s “Vigilante Man” is given a slow blues treatment with some nice slide work and powerful vocals by Dan. The rhythm section of Sweet and bassist Pete Agnew get to shine on the Bo Diddley influenced “Night Woman.” Tasteful use of flange on all the instruments is a nice 70’s touch.

"Bad Bad Boy" was a hit single for them and was obviously a big influence on Guns N Roses. Dan’s balls out vocals make it easy to believe that he is indeed the bad boy that Axl Rose never was. “Sold My Soul” is a dark, moody song with tortured vocals. Nazareth was always more of a “hard” band then a “heavy” one, but this song is pretty damn heavy. "Too Bad Too Sad" balances it out with another uptempo jam and could have easily been a hit single. "Broken Down Angel" wraps up the album and points the way towards their giant hit of “Love Hurts.” It’s a little too fast to be considered a true ballad but it has a great chorus that is guaranteed to get you singing along every time it comes back around.

This is an album that deserves a home in every real rockers library. Every song is great and the arrangements are tight for maximum impact. The production is also top notch and does not sound 37 years old at all. And if the song “Razamanaz” doesn’t get you moving than that means you don’t deserve to boogie ever again.


Buy here:  Razamanaz


raysrealm said...

Yeah baby!

raysrealm said...

Yeah baby!

Dave said...

Nazareth was a mean album. Not the greatest in terms of songwriting but the animal bite was certainly there. Alcatraz is easily my favorite track because it has the smart song structure from the artist they covered it from (Leon Russell) and the dipped-in-metallic treatment from Nazareth. 'Too Bad Too Sad' is another good one, although many would consider it 'filler'. Not only does it have the pioneering heavy metal guitar crunch - it tells a tongue in cheek story about a guy down on his luck 'once I hadda friend, we hadda lotta laughs, he was all a friend could be, knowin him was just a gas, one night I came home, he gave one supraz, he was standin wit a womans dress, lashes on his eyes..'
I like the other tracks just fine. I really wish they could have developed 'Sold My Soul' a bit more - it would have been fantastic as an 8 minute epic. I thought the song was way too short with a couple of introductory verses, a seemingly 15 second reflective guitar solo - then back to Dan's devil-possessed barking fading into oblivion.
I also thought the production values were a little low. The sound quality is way too muddy with Roger Glover at the controls - even for 1973. Nazareth's first two albums were recorded with pristine clarity; Razamanaz and Loud N Proud not so much.

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