Nazareth - "Hair of the Dog" (Mooncrest 1975)
Nazareth from Scotland was plagued by uneven and inconsistent material through most of their career. At their best they could be a very fine and competent hard rock band. Their albums always featured 2-3 real killer tracks, while the rest varied between dreadful ballads and mediocre, basic bluesy rock. The only album that avoided these problems completely was "Hair of the Dog" from 1975. Although they had several trademarks on their own, like Dan McCafferty's raw and aggressive vocals, they never were afraid of showing what their influences were either. The heavy groove of "Miss Misery" is reminiscent of Black Sabbath, while "Changin' Times" is the track that Led Zeppelin never recorded. Nazareth would always include a couple of cover versions to fill up their albums, but here it works better than usual as they managed to turn Crazy Horse's "Beggar's Day" into their own classic, while Randy Newman's "Guilty" together with the atmospheric instrumental "Rose in the Heather" give the listener a chance to take a break between all the heavy riffs. But the best-known track from the album is undoubtedly the classic title-track that features an irresistible riff, an aggressive chorus and great use of the vocoder (yet another typical Nazareth trademark). "Whisky Drinkin' Woman" represented the most basic and bluesy side of the band that always was exaggerated together with awful power ballads on most of their other albums, but it's acceptable here as it's at least a decent tune. The nearly 10-minute epic "Please Don't Judas Me" that closes the album is the grandest and most majestic that Nazareth ever got, and is also based in one of the best melodies they wrote. "Hair of the Dog" is an essential album for anyone into '70s heavy rock.