Top 10 Nazareth Songs
Like so many bands, the roots of Nazareth can be traced back to the early 1960s. The Scottish band originally formed at the start of that decade as the Shadettes, trading in pop sounds of the day. It wasn’t until 1968, that singer Dan McCafferty, guitarist Manny Charlton, drummer Darrell Sweet and bassist Pete Agnew would regroup as Nazareth.
Over the years, the band developed their gritty hard rock style with McCafferty’s raspy howl always at the fore. Through their career ups and downs, hits and misses, the band always stayed on track to deliver their signature brand of hard rock until McCafferty’s health issues recently forced him into retirement. Here then, we give you our Top 10 Nazareth songs.
‘Broken Down Angel’
‘Broken Down Angel,’ No. 10 on our list of the Top 10 Nazareth Songs, ends their 1973 monster ‘Razamanaz’ and it’s a great, no frills pop/rock song. Three and a half minutes of Faces/Stones-styled rock and roll, the song sounds like a lost classic to this day. You can hear the influence the band would have on such bands down the road like Guns N’ Roses and the Quireboys.
‘Go Down Fighting’
‘Go Down Fighting’ is not only a kick-ass rocker from the band, but could also serve as their own mantra of sorts. “I know that you’re thinking you got me up against the wall,” Dan McCafferty sings before delivering his credo. All the band’s signature style is on display with a powerhouse rhythm section holding down the fort as the guitars rip it up. Another of many songs that should have been hits for these Scottish rockers!
‘Expect No Mercy’
Now hold on! Do our ears deceive us, or has Nazareth gone disco?! Well, no, they didn’t. But there is no denying that robotic, train-rolling-down-the-highway-right-onto-the-dance-floor hi-hat rhythm. Though we doubt it was their intention to branch out to that demographic, this 1977 gem does have an irresistible groove at work here. The other Nazareth tags are still in place, with McCafferty’s rasp in fine form on this one, but it’s a cool little departure in mood from the band.
No, it’s not a ‘power ballad,’ and no it’s not a ‘silly love song.’ ‘Love Hurts’ is simply a great song. Written by Nashville songwriters Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, the song was first given life by the Everly Brothers in 1961. It was later recorded by country rock pioneer Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris in the early-’70s. Nazareth put their hands on it and finally made it a hit record landing it in the Top 10 in early-1976. McCafferty’s dramatic vocal take sells the song. Over the years, it has remained a staple of classic rock radio.
‘Teenage Nervous Breakdown’
This barn burner comes blaring off their band’s 1973 album ‘Loud N’ Proud’ and lives up to the LP’s title. A cover of an obscure song from American roots rockers Little Feat, ‘Teenage Nervous Breakdown’ is pure, unadulterated rock and roll. Old-fashioned in its arrangement and delivery, Nazareth are spot on in summoning the ghosts of Eddie Cochran and Chuck Berry in this raver. Predating the ‘pub rock’ movement by a year or two, this was back-to-basics rock at its finest.
‘Miss Misery,’ No. 5 on our list of the Top 10 Nazareth Songs, wastes no time in getting right into heavy riffdom. The Black Sabbath meets the Troggs riff is pure hard rock gold. The style would later find favor with such bands as Kyuss and Fu Manchu. A sizzling guitar break eases the tension slightly, before the band pummel away at the riff once again. Vocalist McCafferty sounds like a dog foaming at the mouth and ready to attack. One of the best from their classic ‘Hair Of The Dog’ LP.
By 1980, much of the musical landscape of the 1970s had changed, and bands either adapted to survive or faded until further notice. Nazareth jumped head first into the new decade with a gem of an album called ‘Malice In Wonderland.’ The band had recently acquired the services of guitar whiz Zal Cleminson from the Sensational Alex Harvey Band, whose style was a good contrast to guitarist Manny Charlton. In addition, they called in producer Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter (Steely Dan, Doobie Brothers) to steer the ship. The whole album has a more glossy, pop sound to it, but features some great songs like ‘Talkin To One Of The Boys,’ ‘Fast Cars‘ and our pick here, ‘Holiday.’ The new approach worked and gave the band new life on FM radio.
‘Not Fakin’ It’
Nazareth dish out a smokin’ rocker with this killer from their 1973 album ‘Loud N’ Proud.’ ‘Not Fakin’ It’ stomps its way off the record, out of the speakers and into your heart. It’s a no frills, supercharged hard rocker that is bursting with melodic flair and simple rock and roll urgency. The song was later covered by ex-Hanoi Rocks singer Michael Monroe as the title track from his second solo album.
“We gonna razamataz you tonight, we gonna razamanaz ya all night” the band promise on the chorus of this 1973 killer, and the band deliver a zero to 60 full on raver here. Vocalist McCafferty is on fire as guitarist Manny Charlton cuts lose on some kick ass leads. The rhythm section of drummer Darrell Sweet and bassist Pete Agnew are a rock solid pile-driver. There are similarities to the Deep Purple classic ‘Speed King,’ which may come as no surprise since it was produced by Purple’s Roger Glover.
‘Hair Of The Dog’
The obvious pick for the top of our list of the Top 10 Nazareth Songs is the one that most everyone knows from the guys. ‘Hair Of The Dog’ was released in 1975 and that riff blared out of radios everywhere, and seared itself into the consciousness of record buyers, sending the album into the Top 20, giving the band the biggest album of their career. The ring of the cowbell and the driving guitar riff made for a winning combination, and to this day, it remains the band’s signature song.