ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 18, 1987
By Steve Newton
Not too many bands make it to the 20-year mark. But Scottish rockers Nazareth will reach that milestone next year. Singer Dan McCafferty, guitarist Manny Charlton, bassist Pete Agnew, and drummer Darrell Sweet have been kicking royal butt for nigh-on two decades now, and with the release of their latest LP, Cinema, they show no signs of slowing down.
“It’s what we do,” chuckles McCafferty, on the line from his home near Edinburgh, Scotland, “so we never had a problem with it.”
The Naz, which plays the Commodore this Sunday and Monday (September 20 and 21), introduced their gritty boogie sound to North Amerca in 1973 on albums like Razamanaz and Loud ‘n’ Proud. Those two albums sported an abundance of rowdy numbers, including “Razamanaz”, “Bad Bad Boy”, “Woke Up This Morning”, “Too Bad, Too Sad”, “Turn On Your Receiver”, and a wicked version of Joni Mitchell’s “This Flight Tonight”.
But it wasn’t till 1975 and a rendition of the old heartbreaker “Love Hurts” that the band began acquiring a solid number of fans. They followed that in ’76 with the super tune “Vancouver Shakedown”, in which the group alleged that they were ripped off by a promoter (the song was consequently banned from local radio). But in the years since they never quite managed to capture the same all-out party sound of their 1973 LPs.
Until now, that is.
With tunes like “Just Another Heartache”, “Other Side of You”, “Hit the Fan”, “One from the Heart’ and “Salty Salty”, Cinema is just flooded with the headin’-out-to-the-highway type of tunes that made Naz such a fave back in the heyday of eight-track tapes.
“We decided it was time to just make rock ‘n’ roll records again,” says McCafferty, whose gravelly voice mingles with Charlton’s roadhouse riffs and the band’s steady rhythm-section to create a sound that has become an annual attraction at the Commodore. This time around, Manny Charlton wrote five of the album’s nine tunes himself–whereas most of the group’s past hits have been band compositions.
“Manny was writing good tunes,” says Dan, “so we used ’em.”
So what is it like being in the same band for so long, playing gig after gig, year after year?
“There’s days when you wake up on the road and wonder what you’re doing,” admits Dan. “But there’s days when you wake up at home and wonder too. I guess it just depends on what you did the night before.”
Dynamic heavy-metal group Assault–runners-up in the Spotlight ’87 battle of the bands–will be opening for Nazareth both nights.