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Nazareth: Hair Of The Dog - Album Of The Week Club review

An inspiration for Guns N' Roses and a cover featuring a bat-like creature with vicious teeth. It can only be Nazareth's Hair Of The Dog

Nazareth - Hair Of The Dog
Nazareth - Hair Of The Dog

Hair Of The Dog
Miss Miser
Guilty
Changin' Times
Beggars Day
Rose In The Heather
Whisky Drinkin' Woman
Please Don't Judas Me

Hair Of The Dog is the sound of a stadium rock band in full flight. The prodigious use of Darrell Sweet’s cowbell wasn’t all that rendered its title track so memorable. 

The band had intended it to have a far fruitier moniker, based on its infamously belligerent refrain of, ‘Now you’re messin’ with a son of a bitch’, but couldn’t get it past the censors. But they refer to the song as Son Of A Bitch to this day.

The power-ballad treatment of another cover song, Boudleaux Bryant’s Love Hurts (left off the European edition until becoming an ‘extra track’ in Eagle Records’ 2001 catalogue revamp) propelled the album’s worldwide sales to two million.

Every week, Album of the Week Club listens to and discusses the album in question, votes on how good it is, and publishes our findings, with the aim of giving people reliable reviews and the wider rock community the chance to contribute. 

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Background

1974's Rampant may have been the last Nazareth album to make the British Top 20, but 1975’s Hair Of The Dog (with an in-house production from Manny Charlton, and completed in just nine days in an oast house in a remote part of Kent) tightened the group’s grasp on the American market, and their coffers swelled significantly following its release. 

Even the band are unsure what Dave Roe was trying to achieve with the sleeve art of a bat-like creature with vicious teeth. “He was recommended to us by Storm Thorgerson [of Hipgnosis] but he wouldn’t let us see it ’til it was finished,” bassist Pete Agnew Agnew says. 

“In the end he supplied the drawing at the wrong size for a twelve-inch sleeve, and we had to fill the gap with the song titles and credits on a black panel.”

Other albums released in March 1979

  • Journey - Journey
  • Will O' The Wisp - Leon Russell
  • Toys in the Attic - Aerosmith
  • Fish Rising - Steve Hillage
  • Fandango! - ZZ Top
  • Stampede - The Doobie Brothers
  • Ain't Life Grand - Black Oak Arkansas
  • Beautiful Loser - Bob Seger
  • Hokey Pokey - Richard and Linda Thompson
  • Ian Hunter - Ian Hunter
  • Jamaica Say You Will - Joe Cocker
  • King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table - Rick Wakeman
  • New City - Blood, Sweat & Tears
  • The Snow Goose - Camel
  • Straight Shooter - Bad Company
  • Subtle as a Flying Mallet - Dave Edmunds
  • Tomorrow Belongs to Me - Sensational Alex Harvey Band

What they said...

"The album's surprise highlight is a song that bridges the gap between the straight hard rock and experimental songs, Beggars Day/Rose in Heather; it starts out as a stomping rocker but smoothly transforms itself midway through into a gentle and spacey instrumental where soaring synthesiser lines support some moody guitar work. All in all, Hair of the Dog is the finest album in the Nazareth catalog. It is a necessity for both the group's fans and anyone who loves 1970s hard rock." (AllMusic

"No great changes in direction here, as the band pursues its path down the road of uncomplicated, unpretentious rock punctuated with raucous vocals and strong guitar solos, with the exception of one cut that takes on an almost Oriental kind of aura. Still, there are no great changes necessary, for Nazareth are one of those bands who do what they do well, who have a loyal and growing core of fans and who receive strong FM play with every new release. Nothing here to shake the world, but well done all around. Best cuts: Hair Of The Dog, Miss Misery, Whiskey Drinkin' Woman, Please Don't Judas Me. (Billboard)

"Nazareth reached the pinnacle of their long career with their sixth studio album, Hair of the Dog. Produced by the group’s guitarist, Manny Charlton, the album at once contains some solid rock templates for the emerging heavy genres along with some strong examples of the group’s penchant for experimental rock, including a prime example of the group’s talent for re-interrupting compositions. The result is the group’s best known and highest selling release, with over two million copies sold worldwide." (Classic Rock Review)

What you said...

Colin MacKenzie Haggerty: This is worthy of the title Classic Rock - it does not have a bad track on it. Best listening is to put on track one till the end - the US stuck Love Hurts on it and it was a smash. Brilliant LP and put a Scottish band up there with the best bands of the 70s

Matt Roy: This album changed my whole perspective on music. It was my first venture into harder music. I still listen to it occasionally. Miss Misery, Whiskey Drinkin’ Woman and Beggars Day are classics. This album was a favourite of all my head--banging friends. Such a great album front to back. A classic for sure.

Jeff Tweeter: When I think of an album that completely towers over a band's entire catalog, I think Hair Of The Dog. This album is perfection front to back.

John Edgar Man: Oh Man. One of the classics of the 1970s, if one was a hard rock fan. The band was firing on all cylinders for this bad boy. In retrospect one has to wonder if, before recording, the band members made some kind of pact to bring about the rock'n'roll implosion of as many teen-aged heads a possible. 

Completely relentless in its attack, the opening track gives us a floor stomping drum intro with that embedded cow bell for extra punch, and it's off to the races from there. After the title track comes Miss Misery, another masterful rocker with some of the rawest vocals of Dan's career. 

In the U.S. we had to make a quick stop off for Love Hurts, and then you're banging your head again with Changin' Times (a highly overlooked Nazareth classic if ever there was one). It's a one-two punch with Beggar's Day, followed by a slight lull in the proceedings with Rose In The Heather. We then move into that sad story of the Whiskey Drinkin' Woman, and then the total chill-down tune; Please Don't Judas Me

This is 12 inch vinyl put together in the most perfect fashion for the 70's rocker. All the players are magnificent on this album, with the guitar playing being especially impressive. You've gotta love these 'end of the line' success stories, and that's exactly what this album was/is. 

As recorded in the pages of Classic Rock magazine, this was intended to be the last record in the Nazareth boys' record contract. The band had never caught fire, as the record company had hoped they would. The band was booked into what they described as a ultra low budget studio, and they were expected to bang out what would be their last record, on the cheap. 

But that was not to be so, because when 70s headbangers like myself heard the opening salvo of the opening tune, a war cry went forth, causing millions more to hear the merits of this fantastic album... thus begins the second leg of Nazareth's career.

Jim Kanavy: Every song on this is killer. Hair Of The Dog has one of the best riffs in history, crushing chord changes in the chorus, and a talk box guitar solo. There may not be a more classic rock song. Plus Changin' Times' great descending riff, the transcendent version of Beggars Day, the hard charging bombastic metal riffery of Miss Misery, and the shimmering ethereal slide guitar on the epic Please Don't Judas Me. This album is much more than it's associated hits. I'd argue that Love Hurts is the weakest song, even weaker than the cover of Randy Newman's Guilty on the non-US versions of the LP.

Graham Tarry: Got this when it came out in 1975, and like many Nazareth albums it contains too many average/weak songs. The original track listing is very different to later expanded CD versions. The standout songs on the original vinyl copy are Hair Of The Dog, Miss Misery, Changin' Times and Beggar's Day. Their finest album IMHO is Loud 'n' Proud.

David Alejandro Cepeda Benavides: Perfect album... fucking awesome. Obviously i heard the album because of the first song i listened from them: Love Hurts (which later I discovered was a cover from The Everly Brothers). Then I listened to the full album and it blew my mind. Heavy, energetic, pure rock'n'roll. My favourite track is Please Don't Judas Me, a masterpiece later covered by Metallica. Miss Misery, Guilty, Beggar's Day and My White Bicycle are really good tunes... so it's maybe their strongest album. 10/10.

Bill Griffin: This is an excellent record, all the tracks are standouts. Even Love Hurts is good though I would have preferred the rest of the world's version of the album. I got banned from playing the title track on my high school radio station but didn't mind; every station was playing that one or Love Hurts. I was quite happy to play the rest of the album.

Malcolm Bird: A band that were so prolific in there output and quality in the early years. This album stands up so well today and they probably never bettered it a classic. Saw them in 1975 and the opening of Changing Times and Hair Of The Dog is etched into my memory great way to start a gig.

Hylton Blignaut: Great album for me. I was very into Nazareth as a kid, and was fortunate enough to see them live. Rampant, Razamanaz, Loud 'n Proud, No Mean City etc are often on my turntable or car CD player, but Hair Of The Dog is one of the best

Uli Hassinger: One of the finest achievements of the band together with Razamanaz and Expect No Mercy. The best songs to me are Beggars Day, Rose In The Heather and Please Don't Judas Me. Both are excellent and varied songs, very complex in comparison to most of the Nazareth songs. The rest are solid rockers. By the way : I can highly recommend the remastered CD from 2010 with a really improved sound (blasting basses). Besides it contains nine bonus songs. To me 8/10.

John Davidson: Well, that was a surprise. As a born and raised Fifer I was always aware of Nazareth but never a big fan. I knew their hits but not their albums.

I had the impression that they were a bar-room boogie band that occasionally did ballads.

This album bursts that misconception as they deliver a mixture of high energy rock, blues and ok 'that' ballad.

Stand out tracks are Hair Of The Dog, Changing Times, and Beggars Day. Guilty does nothing for me and Judas doesn't justify its length but the other tracks are more than filler.

The 2010 remaster is a revelation. I don't remember the original having this level of power and clarity ( I might have been a fan of it did). The live tracks on that version (alongside the banter) are well worth a listen as well. 8/10.

Erik Mooney: This album had everything. Opening with its driving rock anthem (Hair Of The Dog) and perfectly blending its heavy hitters like Miss Misery and Beggars Day with the ballads Love Hurts and Guilty. And slowing it down with a bluesy Whiskey Drinking Woman and ( my personal favourite) the haunting sound of Please Don't Judas Me. This shows what album is meant to be. Easily in my top 10

Bill Engebretsen: Top to bottom one of the great non talked-about albums of all time. The vocals of Dan Mcafferty and the heaviness of this record surprised the shit out me. Along with the album cover it is one of hidden gems of hard rock.

Hugh Lynch: I have never heard a Nazareth album prior to this. I like pretty much everything about it, except Dan's vocals. It is not a style or tonal quality that does anything for me at all. I can certainly understand why Axl would consider him an influence... they covered some great songs (Guilty, This Flight Tonight) over the years, but this really is not for me, as I stated, primarily because of the vocals.

Shane Reho: Haven't heard this in a real long time. Still as good as I remember it being. This is a solid slice of mid 70s' hard rock. The title track is the classic it deserves to be, and while Love Hurts has been played to death by classic rock radio, it still holds up quite well. 

The songs that didn't get much airplay are mostly top notch, with Changing Times and Beggars Day both showing how well these guys rock, Whiskey Drinking Woman is a solid blues cut, and Rose In The Heather comes off as a nice, calmer little interlude. The only sub-par track is Please Don't Judas Me, which goes on for awhile and doesn't do it for me. 9/10. Track picks: Hair Of The Dog, Changing Times, Beggars Day.

Hai Kixmiller: For about the first half, Nazareth's Hair Of The Dog album is a blistering, fist pumping, proper hard rock album. And like a well seasoned goulash, for the second half, Nazareth serves up a surprisingly good recipe of rock, country, and experimental music that blends, and soars, and takes the listener on a most satisfying trip that leaves the listener nodding their head in approval and wanting more.

The monster ballad, Love Hurts should just come with it's own bottle of booze. If ever there was a song to drown one's sorrows in it's this one. The space between each individual instrument and even the vocals is pure genius. You can hear each one separately but together they just make the listener feel like they are soaring, adrift on their own dark cloud.

And then Changing Times comes back in right after the ballad and gets the party going again. The guitar centred outro just makes me wanna get out on the highway.

Rose in the Heather just resolves Beggars Day so perfectly that both songs should just be one long song.

The only pratfall to the album is possibly the duration of Please Don't Judas Me. The middle eastern melodies and mood are interesting, but 10 minutes is a bit too much.

Carl Black: I can see why Axl likes them. What a voice. Loud as hell and effortlessly delivered. I'm no studio guru but is the vocal a little down in the mix? It should be out front. The guitars are huge slabs of rock that nearly take your head off. The bassist lets rip every now and again. I'd like the drums a bit more thunderous - the guitar drives this band forward instead of the drums. Nit-picking, really. 

Mike Bruce: Never mind the hair of the dog, at their peak Nazareth were the dogs bollocks. HOTD is probably their commercial high point and a great starting point for folk new to the band.

We kick off with the double boot in the knackers ( to keep the vaguely testicular motif going ) of the title track and Miss Misery before the cigarette lighters come out for the sublime cover of Randy Newman's Guilty

There you have Nazareth's strengths in three tracks. Passionate rockers, heartfelt balladry and a deft hand at choosing and arranging covers. 

Something that strikes me listening now isn't just what they play but what they don't play. There's space to let the music and the audience breath.

The world has changed since 1975 and today that outward looking attitude and lightness of touch would sadly leave the band loosing out in a world where brand not band wins. 

Maybe the reason music like this doesn't find a bigger audience these days is because it's not as obvious as much of today's rock. It doesn't bludgeon you into submission all the time. When it quietens down it really quietens down and doesn't just pretend to by slowing the tempo. That allows the different textures of Whiskey Drinking Woman and Please Don't Judas Me to really stand out from the chest-beating warp and weft woven elsewhere.

I can think of a few perfectly acceptable bands today who could come on by leaps and bounds if they had the courage to adopt Nazareth's approach.

If you're buying on CD the 2010 Salvo release is the one to get. Almost 80 minutes of Naztastic goodness.

I quite like this album.

Brian Carr: I made the switch from cassettes to CDs in 1988, by my estimation, and Nazareth’s Hair of the Dog may have been one of the first 100 I bought. I didn’t have anything else by the band, but bought this and liked it a lot. When it came up as this week’s album, though, I realised I probably haven’t listened to it in well over 20 years. Did I grow out of it, or just forget about it? As the old Tootsie Pop commercial said, “Let’s find out...”

Maybe I stopped spinning it because of McCafferty’s gargling Dran-O after swallowing razor blades vocal delivery. Listening this week, I was surprised to find it didn’t (completely) bother me, especially considering that influence on Axl Rose is so obvious (the majority of the time, I can’t stand Axl’s voice). Beggar’s Day is likely the biggest example - I can absolutely hear Axl singing it.

The title track is a classic, but starting to wear thin on me. As I listened, it struck me as “the song that doesn’t end.” The outro keeps going until the talk box starts to sound like a kazoo, and SNL could have picked this song instead of BOC for the cowbell sketch.

The guitar riff on Changin’ Times doesn’t sound like Black Dog, but the overall feel of the song reminded me of the Zeppelin track and Whiskey Drinking Woman reminds me of Joe Walsh. I wonder if Walsh thought so - his 80s classic The Confessor is rather reminiscent of Please Don’t Judas Me.

The album rocks along just fine, though I probably don’t like it as much as I did 30 years ago. The riffs are okay, the songs are okay, but nothing really jumps out at me as a “must play.” I guess I’ve just found loads of other albums, especially from the 70s, that I like better, which is probably the biggest reason it has stayed in its case for so long.

Roland Bearne: I only own two albums by Nazareth, Sound Elixir and the Catch. They live happily but rarely spun on the shelf. It was always about the occasional song with Nazareth: Broken Down Angel, Love Hurts, This Month's Messiah until lately, when I can't seem to stop listening to Tattooed On My Brain (a very different Nazareth, I know). 

I really enjoyed this, the band are supremely tight and the textures varied from crunching hard rock (pretty heavy for 75 I'd guess?) to tender balladry, country (Scotland loves a bit o country!) and excursions into prog /psych territory. Whilst as a band they don't have the out and out virtuosity brandished by the likes of Purple and Zeppelin, they in my mind align more with Uriah Heep in bringing to bear a breadth of other influences fastidiously and imaginatively woven together. 

There is of course that one not-so-secret weapon, Dan McAfferty's voice. And what a weapon it is. From signature hard rock rasp to tender emotion he was/ is quite extraordinary. A unique talent. I'm going to keep this on rotation and look out for the vinyl. Nice one and another brilliant CRAOTW, filling in another musical gap in my pre 80s record buying hey day. Nice.

Final Score: 8.26 ⁄10 (285 votes cast, with a total score of 2355)

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