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Old 04-25-2013, 03:33 PM   #271 (permalink)
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At the time, the first Rainbow album came as a breath of fresh air, with Deep Purple becoming a bit stale. Also, Elf, in my view, were not great. Burn and Come Taste the Band are good albums (Stormbringer is weak with a couple of standout tracks), but the band were moving further away from being Deep Purple. Black Sheep of the Family always sounded like a Deep Purple song and Quatermass were signed to Purple Records, so it was understandable when Blackmore recorded his own version.

You are right in that Blackmore was attempting to turn back the clock, as he did not like the Glenn Hughes funk element. I think Blackmore's Rainbow is a consistently strong album which took me back to the days of Machine Head. Man on the Silver Mountain became Blackmore's new Smoke on the Water for a while.

There were several revitalised bands/musicians in the mid-seventies, besides Blackmore's Rainbow. The other was Mott, born out of a stagnating Mott the Hoople. Luther Grosvenor was a pioneering guitarist, but not right for Mott the Hoople and he went on to Steve Ellis's promising, but short-lived, Widowmaker. Ronnie Dio, of course, reappeared in Sabbath, on the surprisingly good Heaven and Hell.

Keep playing the album US (at number 11 on your amp), and you may change your mind.

The band changed in style because Blackmore, having replaced the Elf guitarist with himself in order to make them Rainbow, sacked the remainder with the exception of Dio. Blackmore was prone to cutting off his nose to spite his face and should not have sacked Mickey Lee Soule on keyboards.
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Old 04-27-2013, 04:41 AM   #272 (permalink)
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Why no "Overview" of Rainbow? And I only just bought and listened to the album less than a month ago, but you seem to give all the fun, straight up rock songs short shrift. If "If You Don't Like Rock'n'Roll" doesn't get your blood pumping then you might in fact be dead.
If you look, there is never an 'Overview' section of albums that appear in the second part of the 'Double Header' section. It's because the second album is by the same band normally and has already been covered in the first overview of the band. The Rainbow entry was an exception to this, but I still worked it like it was by the same band (Ritchie Blackmore link) and also to stop me writing an extra one! As Rainbow are on the list the following year, they'll get their own overview then.

Many years ago I used to think of this album as great, but over the last few years I've seen how flawed and patchy it really is. You're listening to this album and it's quite new to you. Every album I've reviewed so far, I've always tried to assess it in the context of its time and what was happening at that time, and also the motivations (if any) of the band at the time. Ritchie Blackmore always struck me as a deliberate artist who knew what he wanted and I don't think fun and humour was that high on his list. The Rainbow debut has some very obvious filler and some rushed sounding songs to bulk up the quality tracks on the album. There was a lot of fun sounding stuff around that time from bands like Kiss and NYD and they did humour far better than Rainbow could. The song you mentioned actually sounds like an average radio track from the time.

Anyway grasshopper keep up the observations!

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At the time, the first Rainbow album came as a breath of fresh air, with Deep Purple becoming a bit stale. Also, Elf, in my view, were not great. Burn and Come Taste the Band are good albums (Stormbringer is weak with a couple of standout tracks), but the band were moving further away from being Deep Purple. Black Sheep of the Family always sounded like a Deep Purple song and Quatermass were signed to Purple Records, so it was understandable when Blackmore recorded his own version.
I'll grant you Rainbow did sound very fresh and that certainly shows on about half the album.

Quote:
You are right in that Blackmore was attempting to turn back the clock, as he did not like the Glenn Hughes funk element. I think Blackmore's Rainbow is a consistently strong album which took me back to the days of Machine Head. Man on the Silver Mountain became Blackmore's new Smoke on the Water for a while.
That is just an observation reached by me, I've not read it anywhere and throughout my reviews I always try to look for some kind of reasoning behind what bands and artists do, whether I'm correct or not is another matter.

Quote:
There were several revitalised bands/musicians in the mid-seventies, besides Blackmore's Rainbow. The other was Mott, born out of a stagnating Mott the Hoople. Luther Grosvenor was a pioneering guitarist, but not right for Mott the Hoople and he went on to Steve Ellis's promising, but short-lived, Widowmaker. Ronnie Dio, of course, reappeared in Sabbath, on the surprisingly good Heaven and Hell.
Guess what I listened to Mott's Drive On and I now agree it's a good album! I'm surprised you said Heaven and Hell was just good! Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules along with the Dio debut, are some of the greatest metal albums of their era and well beyond just good

Quote:
The band changed in style because Blackmore, having replaced the Elf guitarist with himself in order to make them Rainbow, sacked the remainder with the exception of Dio. Blackmore was prone to cutting off his nose to spite his face and should not have sacked Mickey Lee Soule on keyboards.
Ritchie Blackmore has spent most of his career doing that, but in this case I think he was justified in getting rid of the Elf members minus Dio from the band. Elf were essentially a blues rock band and Rainbow were offering something very different.
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Old 04-27-2013, 04:15 PM   #273 (permalink)
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09. Montrose Warner Bros. Presents… Montrose! 1975 (Warner Bros)
Hard Rock

Oh unlucky band... Montrose! were destined for nostalgia.


Overview

By the time of their third album the hard rocking Montrose had not made the commercial breakthrough that was expected. Their debut album which would become a much revered set in the future didn’t break them into the big time (on my 1973 review list) and their more diverse and interesting second set Paper Money failed to ignite the charts as well. So it was probably no surprise then, that the ambitious Sammy Hagar packed his bags and decided to up sticks and embark on a solo career. The band also said adios to producer Ted Templeman, whose commercial style production really should’ve been just what the doctor had ordered, considering his track record with bands up to that point! Sammy Hagar was soon replaced by the excellent and unheard of Bob James, a Ohioan native who had already been knocking around the LA music scene in a Montrose based cover band of all things! The band also decided and keeping with current musical trends, to become a quintet by hiring unknown keyboardist Roy Alcivar, who would go onto become part of Gamma later on in the decade. The band after putting their third album together, then decided to set up shop at the Record Plant LA to record what would be known as Warner Bros. Presents… Montrose! In many ways this was truly a group effort, as it’s one of those albums that was composed by the band as a whole and the band members share credits on nearly all of the original tracks on the album. The interesting album cover also featured ‘a big movie’ production type feel, probably in an effort to garner more commercial success for the band. But as with the previous two albums Warner Bros. Presents… Montrose! would again fail to sell any significant amounts of copies, and more than likely nowhere near what Warner Brothers were looking for. The first three Montrose albums are actually quite distinct in a number of ways and all three have their highs and lows, but the a-side of this album might rank song for song as their strongest effort.

Bob James- Vocals
Ronnie Montrose- Guitar
Bill Church- Bass
Roy Alcivar- Keyboards
Danny Carmassi- Drums

Production- Ronnie Montrose


Album
Matriarch
- Bob James’ rocky voice starts off the song and we instantly go into a Deep Purplesque style opening rocker. This is a song that’s full of energy and the keyboards of Roy Alcivar are used to great effect here. All I Need- An acoustic softer number that probably had the band eyeing a single here. The song is then beefed up by a heavier chorus and main section, before going back into softer territory again. Twenty Flight Rock- A great cover of the Eddie Cochran song written by Ned Fairchild. Whaler- Essentially a progressive rock track by the band, which features a guest-spot by Novi Novog on the viola, this is my favourite track on the whole album. Dancin’ Feet- A straight up rocker and later performed by Van Halen as a cover song. Oh Lucky Man- A keyboard driven cover of the Alan Price song, that featured on the British film of the same name. One and a Half- A 1 minute plus acoustic instrumental courtesy of Ronnie Montrose. Clown Woman- A sluggish bluesy rocker that smacks of being a weaker tracker, but does have some nice bluesy slide-guitar by Ronnie Montrose. Black Train- Without a doubt the best track by miles on the b-side of the album, this is a pacey effort which features some of Ronnie Montrose’s best guitar work on the whole album.

Verdict
Warner Bros. Presents… Montrose! is quite simply an album that has a chilled out feel at times and there are times when it works really well and times when it doesn’t work at all. The best tracks on the album include “Matriarch” “All I Need” and “Whaler” which are on the first side of the album, and then of course there is the album closer “Black Train” which is a really stellar track overall. This is an album that is highlighted by the quality of the artists on show, rather than the quality of the material available. Fifty percent of Warner Bros. Presents… Montrose! ranks as the band’s best work, whilst the other fifty percent is screaming out to be improved upon! As expected the artistic quality is led by Ronnie Montrose on guitar, but he is equally matched at times by the excellent newbie Roy Alcivar on keyboards and both Bill Church and Danny Carmassi don’t miss a beat on bass and drums. But it’s Bob James’ vocals that are a revelation at times and despite being far less known than Sammy Hagar, he’s a vocalist of wider scope than Sammy Hagar and was a great vocal talent that deserved far more than just disappearing into the cruel obscurity of rockdom. In many ways he reminds me of Harry Shaw of Hard Stuff, who after leaving the band, was hardly ever heard of again! Bob James’ vocals on the first three songs of the album which are “Matriarch” “All I Need” and “Twenty Flight Rock” all basically display his prowess as a vocalist. In these three songs he gives us hard rocking power, soft and melodic composure, and some real rock ‘n’ roll energy, but his best is saved for the a-side closer the excellent “Whaler”. Now this is an album where the stronger material certainly sits on the first side of the album and therefore Warner Bros. Presents… Montrose! takes a definite nose-dip quality wise on its b-side, which is a shame really, because had the b-side of the album been up to the same quality as the a-side, Warner Bros. Presents… Montrose! would’ve been much higher up on the 1975 year listings. After this album the band for their fourth effort, would hire producer Jack Douglas of then Aerosmith fame for the album, but by then it was business as usual for the band with poor sales and that album also proved to be the band’s weakest effort, and it was clear the band would never achieve what they’d set out to originally do. It would take later take the Montrose connection to Van Halen (especially through Sammy Hagar) to revive the memory of Montrose. The album Warner Bros. Presents…. Montrose! effectively pulls the curtain down on a band, that should’ve achieved far more success than they ever attained.

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08. Black Sabbath Sabotage 1975 (Vertigo)
Heavy Metal


Supersonic dreams and are you Satan, are you man?

Overview
After returning from their year-long sabbatical, the godfathers of metal Black Sabbath would record their sixth album Sabotage and it would be the first Black Sabbath album that was indicative of the cracks starting to appear in the Osbourne/Iommi relationship within the band! Before this Black Sabbath like most bands had had their internal issues most notably with Bill Ward, but they always gelled when it mattered. The band had also never been afraid to experiment and these experiments had usually worked well, as long as the band had never wandered too far away from the sound they had dominated and mastered over the last several years. Vol.4 had been their most diverse and freshest sounding release to date, and that album had been a Sabbath masterpiece….. something that Sabotage would desperately struggle to match! Sabotage in many ways was a continuation of the previous Sabbath Bloody Sabbath album, in that the band decided to build off the trademark blackness of that album and its proggy designs, along with harking back to the commercial appeal of Vol.4 at times as well. The band this time around, went in for a far greater integration of synthesizers overall, rather than the external featuring sound of synthesizers that had appeared on the previous Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. The band would also continue with their prolonged technical approaches to the recording of the album, something which had become a mainstay of the band now, making the current Sabbath production practices a world away from their early days! Sabotage as an album is also regarded as containing some of Ozzy’s most ambitious vocal performances to date and that is certainly an achievement, as a lot of the material on the album is not that easy to go with from a vocalist’s perspective. In fact I think this comment which I’ve seen on a number of album reviews at the time of the album’s release, may well have gone to Ozzy’s head, as he upped and left after this album for a brief period. The album cover also denotes a band bathing in the luxury of being one of the biggest bands on the planet with the band members looking plush in front of a gold trimmed mirror.

Ozzy Osbourne- Vocals
Tony Iommi- Guitar
Geezer Butler- Bass
Bill Ward- Drums
(Synthesizer contributions from most of the band members)

Production- Black Sabbath

Album
Hole in the Sky-
The big album opener is a plodding brooding heavy number that follows the standard verse-chorus workout, often regarded as one of the strongest songs on the album. Don’t Start (Too Late)- The typical soft instrumental ditty that we are now accustomed to but this time synths are pushed into the mix. Symptom of the Universe- With its lethal Tony Iommi riff, this is Black Sabbath with a cherry on top….. so need I say more? The only possible negative might be the chilled out sounding outro which grates to Ozzy’s voice and does seem a bit overly long. Meglomania- The most ambitious track on the whole album and the band wade into proggy territory here big time, the song often splits opinion and I think the band miss here more than they hit. Thrill of it All- Starts off the b-side of the album and is one of the energetic heavy workouts on the album and sounds like a standard Sabbath track, but this time with the use of synthesizers. Supertzar- An epic instrumental and certainly a departure from the standard acoustic or soft instrumental the band normally give the listener, whilst serving as a lead out track to the bludgeoning heavy follow-up. Supertzar is a self contained song and the most creative instrumental the band ever did. Am I Going Insane (Radio)- The band at their most accessible and often seen as the most poppy the band ever got and rivals “Changes” as a big hit and the song features some manic laughter at the end. The Writ- The second longest song on the album and a solid workout by the band and some great band lyrics as well, and of the extended songs on the album this one works the best.

Verdict
Sabotage is regarded as the final album in the classic Black Sabbath run of six albums and very few bands in the history of music regardless of genre, can boast such a feat. But I’d put Sabotage a couple of pegs down quality wise from at least four of the other albums in this classic run. Sabotage probably sits on a ledge with the debut quality wise, but then again this is an unfair comparison as both albums are literally worlds apart and comparing them makes about as much sense as comparing say an early Beatles album to that of a latter Beatles album.....the early Sabbath sound was heavy and dark, whilst the songs on Sabotage are production virtuosos. Also what makes Sabotage different from a lot of Sabbath’s other work, is the fact that the band avoid the standard verse-chorus format on a lot of the songs and by eschewing this, they offer us a different kettle of fish altogether, and give us album with heavy synthesizer overload, an area that the band would explore further to rather disappointing results! The album is largely known for the two great salvos of “Hole in the Sky” and “Symptom of the Universe” and the latter song is without doubt one of the best songs in the whole Sabbath canon. It’s fast, menacing and that riff hits the jugular everytime! In fact this riff is so good, that it might be solely responsible for the future “New Wave of British Heavy Metal” movement as I reckon half of those bands that heard “Symptom of the Universe” must’ve picked up their guitars straight after hearing this song and vowing to form a metal band! Another stellar track is surely the epic sounding “Supertzar” which serves as an example where the band’s experimentation definitely ticked all the right boxes. But where Sabotage lets itself down, is in the fact that there are a couple of ambitious songs, that just hang in the balance on just how good they really are and “Meglomania” is a song that fits into this category perfectly. The song is both murky and sullen, and extremely ambitious at nine plus minutes. It touches into proggy and extensive musical territory, an area where Black Sabbath have tended to struggle at times but “Meglomania” does have a great mood, but its overall execution leaves a lot to be desired! The same can be said for the “Thrill of it All” which takes the standard Black Sabbath sound and enhances it through the use of synthesizers, and the end result doesn’t overly give us an immediate thrill! "The Writ” on the other hand is one of those borderline songs, that comes away with a thumbs up. Overall the band played it safe (they took far more risks on their following albums) and “Am I Going Insane (Radio)” is an example of this safety just in case they needed a radio hit to bale themselves out.

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Old 04-30-2013, 12:40 PM   #275 (permalink)
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I first heard Sabotage as an American import and there was some delay before it was released in the UK, which seemed strange at the time but is even more ridiculous now. Ozzy Osbourne, in an interview with Tommy Vance, said the NEMs label ripped them off, so although they sold lots of copies, they made nothing.

I agree that Symptom of the Universe is one one of their best tracks and has a fantasic riff. It's that quiet intro and then they launch into stripping the paint from your walls. 'Lethal' and 'jugular' are good words for this track. Although the recording seemed a bit bass-y or grunge-y at the time, this album is up there with Judus Priest's Sad Wings and Budgie's Bandolier for sheer heaviness.
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07. Thin Lizzy Fighting 1975 (Vertigo)
Hard Rock

The ballad of a hard band......... Lord have mercy!

Overview
By the time of Fighting Thin Lizzy were already veterans of four studio albums, but it would be on Fighting their fifth studio album, that they would finally find their true musical niche and finally give us their trademark sound. This sound had been noticed on earlier releases, but it finally all slotted into place on Fighting. Originally the Dublin based rock outfit had composed of Phil Lynott on bass and vocals, Eric Bell on guitar and Robert Downey on drums. This three piece band in the vein of their heroes the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Cream had recorded two early albums, the debut Thin Lizzy and its sophomore Shades of a Blue Orphanage, these were two rock albums with a folky slant, that at best were scraping poor to average and not taking the band anywhere special! By the time of their third album Vagabonds of the Western World, the band had seen a marked improvement in their output and the album contained some early Lizzy essentials in “Mama Nature Said” “The Rocker” “Little Girl in Bloom” and the hit single, and one of their most famous tracks “Whiskey in a Jar” and Just when the band looked to be on their big breakthrough, uncharismatic guitarist Eric Bell bailed out leaving Phil Lynott the undisputed leader of the band. The remaining two band members Lynott and Downey, then engaged dual guitarists in American Scott Gorham and Scot Brian Robertson, this move would prove to be a masterstroke and gave the band the option of the dual guitar attack which would become synonymous with band, as it had already done with the Allman Brothers Band and Wishbone Ash to name just two. The dual guitar attack would of course go on to become a cornerstone of the future heavy metal movement as seen by bands such as Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, demonstrating just how influential Thin Lizzy would be. This concept of the dual power attack though, made their fourth release Nightlife something of a surprise considering how subdued it was, but despite that Nightlife remained their best album to date (that album and the previous are on my albums that missed the cut section…….. for 1973 and 1974) If Nightlife felt subdued, then 1975’s Fighting would address this slight in almost every aspect!

Phil Lynott- Bass/Vocals
Scott Gorham- Guitar
Brian Robertson- Guitar
Brian Downey- Drums

Production- Phil Lynott

Album
Rosalie
- The album starts off to a punchy and energetic cover of the Bob Seger penned song and the band quickly make it their own. For Those That Love to Live- Great drumming intro by Brian Downey before Phil Lynott slips in with his concise and soulful vocals, and the song contains some great interplay overall. Suicide- An older song recorded when Eric Bell was in the band and a rolling rocker punctuated with great guitar work that dominates throughout. Wild One- One of the best known tracks from the album and another one of the signature Phil Lynott tracks, that can found across the band’s classic period. Fighting My Way Back- One of the lighter songs on the album and has the band very much playing within the confines of their own sound. King’s Vengeance- A mid-paced heavier song, that shows the band mixing it up between acoustic guitar and some powerful heavy rocking at times. Spirits Slips Away- A somewhat brooding start before flowing into a melodic main section, before slipping back into its gentle brooding feel again. Silver Dollar- With a boogie feel this song was penned by Brian Robertson. Freedom Song- With now with what seems like a trademark Thin Lizzy sound that has been around for years, this is a very strong latter album track. Ballad of a Hard Man- As the name suggests, the album closes with a crunchy guitar based rocker, which would be carried over to Jailbreak the following year.

Verdict
From the word go “Rosalie” the album opener, has an energetic rocking feel that is characteristic of the album as a whole and this hard edged power is pushed even higher on songs like “Suicide” and “Ballad of a Hard Man” which are prime examples of this harder feel. These songs though, are in contrast to the Phil Lynott penned “For Those About to Live” “Wild One” and “Freedom” which are typical soulful sounding Phil Lynott material, and these are songs that sound like a harder rocking Bruce Springsteen or Van Morrison at times, but with riffs that are distinctly Thin Lizzy. Then there are songs like the mournful sounding “Spirits Slips Away” another Phil Lynott delight and the latter album track “Freedom Song”, which almost sounds like a combination of some of the more soulful melodic earlier material on the album. Then there is “Fighting My Way Back” which is a song that is in contrast to a lot of the material on the album, as it has the band playing in a more controlled manner and serves as a great example of the band’s commercial aspirations….. at least to please the record label! The album really shines with its expected twin guitar attack between Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson and these two are practically over everything on the album anyway! But the undisputed star of the album has to be main man Phil Lynott, who I’ve purposefully held back on praising so far, but here is a frontman that was possibly one of the most unique of his generation. Here was an artist that had an uncanny grasping of being able to blend diverse musical styles into one melting pot and come out with a unique concoction and to that he added his poetic lyrics and ‘an outlaw with a broken heart voice’ he was really one of a kind! Now despite the praise that I’ve heaped on the album, the songs it should be said as a whole, do fall short of the album being labelled as a classic! The songs are there in essence, but a bit more songcraft could’ve taken the whole thing up a notch or two and for this reason alone, it’s the individual components of the band working in unison, that carry the whole thing through. Fighting is an excellent album that saw a three-way marriage between the harmonizing guitar work of both Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson to that of drummer Brian Downey, with Phil Lynott’s cool rocking demeanour as the icing on the cake. Fighting is pivotal in the band’s discography, as without it……..the following year’s Jailbreak wouldn’t have been possible!

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I agree that Symptom of the Universe is one one of their best tracks and has a fantasic riff. It's that quiet intro and then they launch into stripping the paint from your walls. 'Lethal' and 'jugular' are good words for this track. Although the recording seemed a bit bass-y or grunge-y at the time, this album is up there with Judus Priest's Sad Wings and Budgie's Bandolier for sheer heaviness.
Both of those albums are on this and next year's list.
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06. Nazareth Hair of the Dog 1975 (Mooncrest)
Hard Rock

Now you’re messin’ with a son of a bitch!


Overview

1975 may not have been quite as strong as some other years, but it certainly had a slew of albums that had some stunning guitar work and Hair of the Dog is one of the very best around. Hair of the Dog was the band’s sixth studio release and would be regarded as their best album by critics, along with being their biggest seller! The band reached their zenith in the 1975 and 1976 period on both sides of the pond and they turned out to be one of the biggest sellers stateside that year as well. Their popularity had come about through heavy touring and producing a heavy riff-laden sound, that was propelled by the guitar of Manny Charlton and accompanied by the rocking whiskey soaked wail of Dan McCafferty who was also crucial to the band’s sound. At the height of the band’s popularity in 1975, Dan McCafferty also released his debut solo album the same year and given his love of cover songs, it was no surprise then that he did an album’s worth of covered material (can’t comment on that album as I’ve never heard it) The band also decided to depart with the services of Roger Glover who had been pivotal as a producer on their previous three albums and now guitarist Manny Charlton who had been involved with the production on those three albums, now sat in the production chair himself! The US version of the album differed from that of the UK/worldwide release, in that it featured a cover of the Everly Brothers hit single “Love Hurts” (I never thought they’d be mentioned in this journal) in place of the Randy Newman cover “Guilty” which was for the UK and the rest of the world. Whilst “Love Hurts” is a smoochy choice, it was destined to be one of the band’s biggest hits and featured as the third song on the album for the US market, ironic really as I think the Randy Newman cover “Guilty” to be a much stronger track overall! The album name comes from the English colloquial expression ‘hair of the dog’ which means consuming more alcohol to lessen the effects of an existing hangover….. an album name quite appropriate for this band! The band have also made a departure from some of their earlier album covers and now gone for a more fantasy style cover imagery.

Dan McCafferty- Vocals
Manny Charlton- Guitar
Pete Agnew- Bass
Darrell Sweet- Drums

Production- Manny Charlton

Album
Hair of the Dog- With its cowbell driven drumbeat and throbbing guitar of Manny Charlton, the title track is the perfect opening song for the album and sets the tone for much of what follows. Miss Misery- Doomy track about a bad romance, which features Dan McCafferty’s whisky soaked wail at its very best and the song is a great example of a very strong second album track. Guilty- A cover of the Randy Newman song and the band actually work this song very well. Changin’ Times- Dominated by Manny Charlton’s circular sounding riffs that push the song ever onward. The song then moves up another tempo for its final section with its long instrumental outro, it’s one of the best songs on the album. a) Beggars Day b) Rose in the Heather- The first part of the song is a stomping rocker of real gusto, before it transforms into its second part which is a gentler synthesizer based part of the song. Whiskey Drinkin’ Woman- The bluesy southern rock song of the album and again even in a light-hearted mood, the band execute this song well. Please Don’t Judas Me- The closing highlight of the album, is a brooding piece that shares a great mixture of heavy metal riffs and a synthesizer based leads and both combine to killer effect, the song always seems to breeze through its 9 plus minutes and a vital track in the band’s discography. “Love Hurts” track three on the US edition instead of “Guilty” is basically just a smoochy sounding cover, largely designed to give the band a hit single. There are a number of bonus editions of this album and the following two tracks “Down” and “Railroad Boy” usually feature on these.

Verdict
As expected Nazareth carry the heaviness of Loud ‘n’ Proud and Rampant right across to this album, and evidence of that can be heard on the throbbing album opener and title track “Hair of the Dog” an essential track in every way. Then we move onto the slowed down brilliant second track “Miss Misery” which actually sounds like a slowish-paced Black Sabbath track at times and has Manny Charlton doing his guitar chores as well as Tony Iommi could on this type of song. Then there is “Changin’ Times” which is a song that even Led Zeppelin would’ve been proud to call their own, as there are real similarities here with the Led Zeppelin sound on this song, largely due to its circular sounding riff and if Manny Charlton matched Tony Iommi on the earlier track, he more than matches Jimmy Page here! Overall the album is so solid, that experimental tracks such as “Beggars Day/Rose in the Heather” work a real treat and add some diversity to the proceedings, the band of course have always flirted with experimental features on their previous releases and here these experimental flirtations are at a minimum, largely due to the tightness of the rest of the album overall. In fact there isn’t even a weak track on this whole album and even lesser tracks such as “Whisky Drinkin’ Woman” with its pulsating beat still sounds great! Finally there is “Please Don’t Judas Me” without doubt the showpiece track of the album and a track the band had spent much of their career building towards and a vital song to the hard rock genre of its time! Now whilst I’d put this album alongside Loud ‘n’ Proud as the band’s finest hour, this release might just nick Loud ‘n’ Proud at the finishing post, basically for the simple reason that it doesn’t have one weak track and it’s certainly the band’s most accomplished release that still manages to stay within the hard rocking sound of the band. Hair of the Dog serves as one of the perfect definitions of the hard rock genre in the 1970s!

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Old 05-04-2013, 12:34 PM   #279 (permalink)
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My memory of Hair of the Dog is that the title track was released as a single, but was withdrawn after BBC Radio refused to play the song. It was replaced by a hastily recorded cover of Tomorrow's My White Bicycle. Tomorrow was Keith West and Steve Howe's early band, but Nazareth's version is better and almost as good as Hair of the Dog. I do recall the band playing the song as part of a barnstorming (I think) Sight and Sound in Concert on BBC 2 TV. They were a band that seemed to get better and No Mean City is excellent too. I lost interest around Malice in Wonderland, when they seemed to be aiming for commercial success in America. The Manny Charlton band seemed pretty good, but I did not like their albums.
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Old 05-05-2013, 12:59 PM   #280 (permalink)
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it certainly is interesting how Lizzy's sound changed over the course of their first few albums. I recently reviewed "Shades" and was struck by how bluesy and at times boring it was. "Fighting" is a great album, but if it's the punch in the face and "Jailbreak" is the kick in the teeth, "Nightlife" is a gay little slap on the wrist or push in the back. I hated "Nightlife", such a boring album and very little I could take from it. Even the original version of "Still in love with you" blows: thank goodness they pumped it up live.

Great writeups, US: as I said in the update last week I'm trying to not just skim through the journals but read everything so as to have more to say in the weekly update, and reading yours just shows me what I've been missing.

I must say though, I'm waiting with bated breath for 1976!
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