NAZARETH – Rock ‘n’ Roll Telephone (2014)
Now here’s a band with some serious pedigree, and history; NAZARETH. This “Rock ‘n’ Roll Telephone”, their 23rd studio album, is a return to form and could sadly well mark the end of an era.
In September of 2013, lead singer Dan McCafferty announced his retirement due to health issues. Now, they are set to release what may well be their last effort with him, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Telephone”, on June 6.
The album, recorded and mixed last year, is being called a return to form for the long-running hard rockers. The current Nazareth line up (on the CD) include founder members Dan McCafferty (vocals) and Pete Agnew (bass) – with guitarist Jimmy Murrison and Lee Agnew (Pete’s son, who took the drum stool after Darrell Sweet’s passing shortly after the release of ‘Boogaloo’).
Despite battling chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, McCafferty sounds great here, and as he mentioned at the time of his retirement announcement, it’s the cycle of touring that he can no longer deal with, adding, “I could always make another record.”
Now onto “Rock ‘n’ Roll Telephone”, it opens with the excellent “Boom Bang Bang” offering a tasty guitar work and a driving riff with McCafferty’s vocals as gravelly as ever. There’s a touch of heavy-funk to the bass and the drums pound heavily.
Next up is “One Set Of Bones”, which sees Agnew Jr. setting the tone behind the drum kit. A couple of chords are reminiscent of 1981s ‘Crazy’, and other riffs have a moody feel. Then there’s the chorus that see’s Dan reach a higher range than normal – well worth a listen.
“Back 2B4” is a change of pace and feel, much more melodic with an almost acoustic feel. Again Dan on great form here, and Pete’s bass sounds spot on too. “Winter Sunlight” is a slower atmospheric number, and the title track “Rock ‘n’ Roll Telephone” is a hot stomper with big production, a solid more metallic number and some trademark fuzz on the bass.
“Punch A Hole The Sky” is a real uptempo hard rocker, this a nod to some classic Nazareth albeit at the heavy, hard rockin’ end.
As you see, the overall feel on this CD is traditional hard rock with an updated sound, not as bluesy as Nazareth’s early material, but definitely great, vital, with blood.
Then we hit “Long Long Time”, with effects and programming in the intro and in the rhythms but driven by a classic hard rock riff. This is a definitely modern Nazareth, and will appeal all time fans as well as new generations.
“The Right Time” is the ballad, and here the bluesy foundations emerge in a warm way. But things turn hard rockin’ again with “Not Today”, a midtempo heavy number with a strong riff and some darkness on it.
“Speakeasy” is more commercial and easy to the ears, very classic rock oriented with Hammonds and harmony vocals all over, while the album’s closer, “God Of The Mountain”, is the highlight of the whole CD. This track was issued late last year as a signature song of the Austrian winter Olympics team (that CD single is now quite a rarity). This is uptempo, thunderous, catchy, blistering (check out that guitar solo), everything a good Nazareth album should start and finish with.
This veteran band with almost 45-year career still rocks. “Rock ‘n’ Roll Telephone” could be McCafferty’s swansong, but man, the singer retires with all the glory. And young guitarist Murrison & drummer Lee Agnew provide rejuvenation, a spark, a lot of lively feeling on the record.
Nazareth surprises here with a hard rockin’ collection of songs in the traditional mould of the genre, but with modern arrangements and a punchy updated production.
01. Boom Bang Bang
02. One Set Of Bones
03. Back 2B4
04. Winter Sunlight
05. Rock ‘N’ Roll Telephone
06. Punch A Hole In The Sky
07. Long Long Time
08. The Right Time
09. Not Today
11. God Of The Mountain
Dan McCafferty (vocals)
Pete Agnew (bass)
Jimmy Murrison (guitar)
Lee Agnew (drums)