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Manny Charlton: Sharp/Sharp Re-loaded

As in Nazareth, classic songs reworked. Sharply.

With the band he formed in 1968 and left 22 years later guitarist Manny Charlton had the gift of finding an old classic and inspiring Nazareth to make it their own.

That’s the blueprint for Sharp (2005) and its follow-up Sharp Re-loaded (2006) – fleshed out by a sprinkling of lesser originals and the odd Naz cover – which here, with four bonus tracks, works well enough as a double CD.

Handling lead vocals himself, he delivers vivid re-imaginings of standards such as Tim Hardin’s Hang On To A Dream, Elvis’s My Baby Left Me and Bo Diddley’s Who Do Ya Love (as a punky Motörhead-style romp!). Impressive, too, are less obvious targets like Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain and Gene Clark’s Strength Of Strings.

Among three Dylan songs tackled, All Along The Watchtower is simply stunning, sidestepping both the original and Hendrix’s seminal version with quasi-reggae tones that cement Charlton’s reputation as a truly gifted arranger.