Monday, 11 January 2010

“Nazareth/Exercises” by NAZARETH (Their 1st and 2nd Albums from 1971 and 1972 Reissued onto a 2009 Salvo Single CD 'Expanded Edition') - A Review by Mark Barry...



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"…I'm Burning Up Inside…”

This is the first title in Salvo's reissue of the entire Nazareth catalogue - the Scottish Seventies hard rock band that took their name from a lyric in "The Weight” - a song on The Band's debut album "Music From Big Pink”. 

Each of these UK issues comes in a Tri-Gatefold card sleeve with the 'Loud, Proud & Remastered' logo on the front cover. When folded out, two of the flaps usually reflect the gatefold artwork of the original UK LP while the third flap gives us a live shot of the period (disc in the right flap, booklet in the left). Here are the hairy-men details…

UK released September 2009 on CD - "Nazareth/Exercises" by NAZARETH on Salvo SALVOCD030 (Barcode 698458813022) features their first two 70ts albums Remastered onto 1CD and plays out as follows (74:21 minutes):

1. Witchdoctor Woman
2. Dear John
3. Empty Arms, Empty Heart
4. I Had A Dream
5. Red Light Lady (Part 1 & 2)
6. Fat Man
7. Country Girl
8. Morning Dew
9. The King Is Dead

Tracks 1 to 9 are their debut album "Nazareth" issued January 1971 in the UK on Pegasus Records PEG 10 and May 1972 on Warner Brothers BS 2615 in the USA (later pressings are on A&M).

10. I Will Not Be Led
11. Cat’s Eye, Apple Pie
12. In My Time
13. Woke Up This Morning
14. Called Your Name
15. Fool About You
16. Love Now You’re Gone
17. Madelaine
18. Sad Song
19. 1692 (Glencoe Massacre)
Tracks 10 to 19 are their 2nd album "Exercises" issued June 1972 in the UK on Pegasus Records PEG 14 and October 1972 on Warner Brothers BS 2639 in the USA (later pressings are on A&M). Note: the band returned to “Woke Up This Morning” for their 3rd album “Razamanaz” - the version on this debut album is therefore commonly known as “Version 1”.

The 16-page colour booklet is superb, liner notes by band expert JOEL McIVER, pictures of rare UK 7" singles, Euro picture sleeves, tour program, promo photos from 1972 - very nicely done (it's missing the rear ‘cards' artwork of "Exercises" though). But the really big news for the fans is the fantastic new SOUND. TIM TURAN at Turan Audio has remastered the original tapes and a truly fabulous job has been done - loud, clear, and ballsy - without being overbearing. To use the vernacular - this rocks...

Downsides - there were 4 singles issued between the 2 LPs - two of them "Dear John" and "Morning Dew" (itself an edit) had non-album B-sides - "Friends" and "Spinning Top" - they're not on here (neither is the edit). If you want those, you'll need the previous issue of both albums - a bit of a pain really. The lovely artwork for the rear sleeve of the US "Exercises" is missing too as I said and someone has double-imaged the first sleeve picture for the rear, which does no one any favours. That said - I actually like the packaging and at least each issue to follow will be uniform...

As you've no doubt read from other reviewers, the songs on these formation albums are viewed as good at best - and in the case of "Exercises" where they veered away from their rock formula - as even less so. But I’d argue that it's not all that bad. I love the quirky Band-feel to "Cat's Eye, Apple Pie" and "Fool About You" from Exercises, while "Empty Arms, Empty Heart" from their debut is as good as anything Wishbone Ash was doing at the time. "Dear John" from the first album (lyrics above) also features excellent bluesy piano work from Pete Wingfield of Britain's Blue Horizon signing "Jellybread" (see separate review of their Complete BH material). But there's no doubt that "Love Now You're Gone" and the weedy "Madeline" is plodding stuff. And their 1st version of "Woke Up This Morning" hadn't quite got there yet. Still, at least all the tracks are now saved by truly great sound quality...

This is probably the 3rd or even 4th reissue of Nazareth's material on CD by varying labels - but Salvo’s gallant attempt is by far the best sounding version [Dan McCafferty has to be one of the most underrated vocalists of the period - Frankie Miller too]. The packaging is also pleasing to the eye and it's pitched at mid-price.

But it would take hunger, Roger Glover of Deep Purple as a Producer and a return to good old rock blues to deliver the real goods next time around - the awesome “Razamanaz" and the album that followed it “Loud ’N’ Proud” (see reviews)…

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