Greatest Hits


A & M Records, 1996

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


Nazareth chruned out a prolific discography for A&M between 1973-1982, offering a couple of minor hits before and after their 1976 effort Hair Of The Dog, their best and most complete album. Many listeners will be familiar with that tune, the awful cover of "Love Hurts" and maybe a couple of others depending on how good their local classic rock station is and how deep their love of '70s hard rock goes.

For that audience, or for those who love "Hair Of The Dog" and want to hear more, A&M's Greatest Hits is the best introduction, and i would go so far as to say it is the only Nazareth anybody truly needs along with Hair Of The Dogmy_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 . The Scottish band never aspired to anything more than good-time hard-rock entertainment, something you could boogie and/or drink to when you can't find your Aerosmith records.

The hard-driving "Razamanaz" is certainly one of the fastest songs of 1973 and packs one hell of a punch, while "Broken Down Angel" and "Go Down Fighting" fit nicely in the Aerosmith/AC/DC approach to rock. The derided cover of Joni Mitchell's "This Flight Tonight" is actually a very good glam rock interpretation of the piece and is a smart choice to lead off this set, while "Hair Of The Dog" remains a crude, trashy classic with an indelible riff.

Dan McCafferty's screech is an essential part of the Nazareth sound, one that works on most of the rock numbers but fails miserably on the cover of "Love Hurts" and the early wannabe Who "My White Bicycle." When he tones it down, as on "Carry Out Feelings" and the straightup lunkhead 12-bar blues of "I Want To (Do Everything For You)," the band briefly shows its depth.

Once the punk and disco revolutions hit, the band's star faded fast, and so the songs from the 1977-82 period show a band grasping for direction. "Star" and "Love Leads To Madness" are directionless ballad, "Holiday" owes a huge debt to Fleetwood Mac and "Heart's Grown Cold" is a sort of Meatloaf Broadway ballad that is as bad as it sounds. The long cover of "Morning Dew" is pretty good, and the closing live version of J.J. Cale's "Cocaine" is a surprise, trading Clapton's electric version for an acoustic guitar shuffle with some very good bass playing. One would expect the song to be pandering coming from these guys; instead, it is revelatory and shows the band was capable of more than what it offered.

In fact, most of this collection bears that out and shows a band with far better music than critics, time and the terrible "Love Hurts" would have you believe. No, this won't change lives or rise above a party-hearty boogie-rock album, but as far as '70s hard rock and hits collections, this does its job well on both counts.

Rating: B-

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