40 Years Ago: Nazareth Release ‘Rampant’
Scottish hard rockers Nazareth spent the better part of the ’70s frantically flitting between recording studios and concert stages. They were working tirelessly to promote well-received LPs like ‘Razamanaz,’ ‘Loud and Proud’ — and come May of 1974, their fifth overall studio album, ‘Rampant,’ which under the circumstances was very aptly named.
What’s more, the group’s final pairing with producer Roger Glover (Deep Purple) was a memorable one: kicking off in truly rampant fashion by the driving ‘Silver Dollar Forger,’ before showing some restraint on the almost glam-like ‘Glad When You’re Gone,’ and then easing into a sultry blues balladry of ‘Loved and Lost.’
Next, a group of backup girl singers joined in on the fun for ‘Shanghai’d in Shanghai’; slide guitars and wah-wah pedals caressed the hazy-eyed travelogue of ‘Jet Lag’; waves of phasing and vocal echoes brought the anthemic ‘Light My Way’ in and out of the shadows while uncharacteristically folky acoustics gently buoyed ‘Sunshine’ afloat. Finally, a militaristic cover of the Yardbirds’ ‘Shapes of Things’ frankly left something to be desired — at least until its second half detour into ‘Space Safari’ achieved lift-off.
‘Rampant’ was hardly the most consistent musical experience, but it did regale open-minded Nazareth fans with an entertaining survey of their versatility. If nothing else, the blended Scotch whiskey voice of Dan McCaffery and Manny Charlton’s fuzz-laden six string acted as binding agents for the somewhat disparate material. Both of which could almost always be counted to give Nazareth that — pardon the ‘This Is Spinal Tap‘ quote — extra push over the cliff, to the delight of their loyal fans.
And yet, despite producing so many winning moments, the only charting single from ‘Rampant,’ ‘Shanghai’d in Shanghai,’ wound up stalled just outside the U.K. Top 40, much to the band’s frustration. Nevertheless, it instilled a fresh sense of urgency that would see Nazareth delivering the best-selling LP of their career with 1975’s ‘Hair of the Dog.’