Hair Of The Dog

Nazareth

A & M, 1975

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/06/2012

Although they took their band name from a song by The Band, Nazareth never aspired to be anything more than dumb escapist hard rock fun. And Hair Of The Dog sums up the band’s approach perfectly. It also is their most fully realized album statement and the one that broke them through to the big time for a few minutes.

This is where the awful cover of “Love Hurts” shows up, a ballad ruined by Dan McCafferty’s screeching, the funereal pace, and the monotony of the tune. You either love it or you hate it.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

This also is where the title track shows up, a stomping kiss-off driven by a truly classic riff, a cowbell, and the line “Now you’re messing with a son of a bitch.” A true pinnacle of ‘70s hard rock, the swagger and attitude of the lyrics and the music is not to be missed, even if you’ve heard it a hundred times on the radio.

In between these extremes are some of Nazareth’s lesser-known but just as good songs. “Miss Misery” and “Beggar’s Day” mine a hard strain of Sabbath-inflected rock; the latter gives way to a short, keyboard-driven instrumental called “Rose In The Heather.” It’s no “Layla” or “Oh Well,” of course, but it’s not too bad.

However, “Changin’ Times” is the best song on here and flat-out the best Nazareth song on record, anywhere, anytime. The song itself feels like a cousin to the title track, with another memorable riff and lyrics questioning a relationship, but then things kick into gear with a fast band jam that goes on for a wonderful three minutes. Manny Charlton lays down epic solos as the rhythm section gets worked into a frenzy. It gives the listener a shot of adrenaline, and you hope it never ends.

That said, feel free to stop listening before the final two tracks come on. “Whiskey Drinkin’ Woman” is a terrible bluesy number that has been done much better by Aerosmith and AC/DC, while “Please Don’t Judas Me” is an overlong, synth-heavy yawner, a tuneless mess with only some occasional slide guitar work to redeem it.

Hair Of The Dog has a lot going for it to recommend, especially for classic and hard rock fans, and it features some of the best music Nazareth ever put to vinyl, even if the three duff tracks keep it from being a true classic of the genre.

Rating: B-

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