OK, the sleeve looks a bit like four Scooby Dooz from Hell, but because Nazareth have taken trouble over the contents, this daft-looking cover is destined to become a much loved icon in many a hard rock record collection. Now enjoying something of a late career renaissance, the melodic hard rockers, centred round the legendary voice of main man Dan McCafferty, take another tilt at reliving their glory days of the 1970s, when the Scottish outfit were a seminal influence. Big Dogz is packed with well-worked tunes that balance McCafferty's honey-and-razorblades vocals with Jim Murrison's unhurried but driving guitar. From strong, moody opener Big Dog's Gonna Howl, where McCafferty comes out like AC/DC's Brian Johnson's meaner, bigger brother, through the snarling blues of No Mean Monster, to the claustrophobic riffing, spacey string bending, and vocal samples of album closer Sleeptalker, this is an album of big, muscular songs that are not afraid to put their boots on the table and stretch out. But beneath the swagger, there's also plenty of heart. The anthemic and nostalgic Radio is invested with all the emotion that can only come near the end of a long career that is, on the evidence of this album, still very much in full flow.
16th June, 2011