It is probably understandable if today’s casual rock fan has not heard of Nazareth but if you pop back in time to the early 1970s then this hard rock band from Dunfermline in Scotland were real pioneers of the hard rock movement. They had a fair amount of album chart success plus several singles but they should have been and certainly deserved to be considered on a par with the likes Deep Purple and Uriah Heep.
The band formed as long ago as 1968 meaning that they have been in the business for 54-years and have released many superb hard rock albums with the original line-up being vocalist Dan McCafferty, guitarist Manny Charlton, bassist Pete Agnew and drummer Darrell Sweet. There have been a number of changes since then but there have only ever been 12 musicians in the band so there has been a great deal of stability too. Sadly Darrell Sweet passed away in 1999 being replaced by Lee Agnew, son of bassist Pete Agnew. Manny Charlton, as good guitarist as you will ever hear, left the band in 1990 and illness forced the retirement retirement of Dan McCafferty in 2013. His last album with the band was Rock ‘n’ Roll Telephone which came out in 2014 and he is surely one of the greatest and most distinctive rock singers of his generation. That leaves bassist Pete Agnew as the only remaining original member with the remainder of the current line-up being guitarist Jimmy Murrison who joined in 1994, Lee Agnew from 1999 and vocalist Carl Sentance who joined the band in 2015.
Surviving The Law is now the band’s 24th album and regardless of the musicians involved is still very much a Nazareth album. I go back to the days of the original line-up and I do miss the excitement that Charlton brought to the band with his sublime mastery of the electric guitar and Dan McCafferty had such an incredible, primal and powerful voice that the hairs on the back of your neck would rise when he cranked up the power but that was a long time ago and those days are now gone. What we have now is the ‘new’ Nazareth with Pete Agnew being the anchor to the past and the newer members being very much committed to the history of the band and, more importantly, the future. They were very clever in recruiting the exceptionally talented Carl Sentance on vocals who some may know from his days as the singer and guitarist with the NWOBHM band Persian Risk which led to him appearing with Geezer Butler and his solo projects, then with Welsh band Monroe, forming Ghost with the ex-UFO guitarist Paul Chapman and a three year stint with the Swiss band Krokus. The man has talent and charisma and is obviously a much sought after singer and he also features on the most excellent Tattooed On My Brain which came out in 2018 and he immediately made his mark even though he replaced a true rock legend.
The music continues the great tradition of the band being hard hitting rock and roll built on songs with immediate impact, sharp and searing guitar breaks, lots of fabulous hooks and a down and dirty approach that is simply irresistible. The band has always been masters of the 3-minute rock song with a no frills approach i.e. hard core old school rock that kicks in, says what it has to say and then on to the next song. The lyrics are all about real life, gritty and uncompromising and not a hint of dragons or elves but you do get 14 high quality typical Nazareth songs for 49 minutes of rock and roll heaven.
If you do not know the band then get this as an ideal starting point and then look at the early Seventies albums as they will quite simply blow you away.
Surviving The Law
- Strange Days (3:22)
- You Gotta Pass It Around (3:21)
- Runaway (3:34)
- Better Leave It Out (3:33)
- Mind Bomb (3:31)
- Sweet Kiss (3:34)
- Falling In Love (3:52)
- Waiting For The World To End (2:47)
- Let The Whisky Flow (3:06)
- Sinner (2:02)
- Ciggies And Booze (3:29)
- Psycho Skies (3:32)
- Love Breaks (3:12)
- You Made Me (5:14)