Nazareth and this hack have a long history, which stretches way back to the early 70s with my first ever piece of journalism – a live review of their show at The Marquee. We’ve grown up together, and while our career trajectories have been somewhat different, we have somehow been fortunate enough to land in a similar place of being just grateful to be able to make a living at what we love doing.
Big Dogz is the band’s 22nd album in a long career that has seen stunning worldwide success, death (drummer Darryl Sweet) and departure (guitarist Manny Charlton).
Dominated by vocalist Dan McCafferty’s lacerating larynx, which has lost none of its impact or authenticity, he growls: ‘Well they’ve all kinds of booze/I’ve got my jazz cigarettes,’ on the opening track, Big Dog’s Gonna Howl, which has the lazy menacing stalking rhythm of vintage Bad Company.
The band have never had a problem coming up with quality goods; they are, after all, responsible for introducing the spotty denim hordes to the likes of Randy Newman, Tim Hardin and Little Feat. Although they let rip on tracks like No Mean Monster, Time And Tide, The Toast and Watch Your Back, McCafferty sounds much more comfortable on the more reflective songs like Radio, When Jesus Comes To Save The World Again and Butterfly, which make a solo unplugged set long overdue.
Jimmy Murrison (guitar/piano) and (son of bassist Pete) Lee Agnew (drums) provide solid backing, and it’s probably only old fans like yours truly that miss the original members – a remarkable achievement for a band that have been around for so long.