I can’t recall such an extensive PR campaign for a Naz album, the resultant buzz, the excitement that has prevailed over these last couple of months. So what is the verdict for Rock n Roll Telephone?
Will first impressions on playing it be similar to the experiences of years ago for such albums as No Mean City, “incredible”, or Malice “eh?”
One of the reasons I love Naz is that you are virtually guaranteed to find a tune in every song on any album. This, though, was not quite the case with The Newz but thankfully order was mostly restored with Big Dogz.
Crank up the volume and let proceedings commence…There are some seriously good songs delivered in the traditional meaty Naz way with Boom Bang Bang the best opener since Hire and Fire. One Set of Bones keeps the tempo high with in your face guitars and finely paced bass and drums and I’m sure will develop into, after more listens, a great Naz album track. I am still trying to catch the tune as it is a bit stop start, though good guitar riff. Next up we have the community singing style of Back2B4, (hints of Stuck In The Middle With You) making this an endearing laid back slice of acoustic Naz at their best.
Winter Sunlight, a beautiful mellow song (hints of Child In The Sun singing from Dan and Pete), though to have it as track four immediately after Back2B4 I feel contributes to losing a bit of tempo on the album at this stage. That is immediately put right with the album’s title track and Jimmy’s glorious meaty and mean guitar work supported by a kick ass performance on bass. At times the lyrics are a bit clumsy yet overall a great Naz track to take you by the throat and drag you through the meanest and roughest Russian airport.
Fasten your seat belts for a turbo charged ride through Punch A Hole In the Sky. The slick but mean guitar work is augmented by no holds barred drums and bass. This track is also testament to the fact that Dan, COPD or not, can still deliver a vocal performance that would leave a twenty year old floundering. The band has floored the pedal to the metal…hold on for a wild ride.
Then the album takes a little detour…Long Long Time can be described as “nice” but I just can’t class it as a Naz song. A modern feel, it certainly stretches boundaries...yet for me just feels out of place on a Naz album. The Right Time has echoes of and would not be out of place on one of Naz’s mid-seventies albums though at the moment I feel it is a bit maudlin. Perhaps more plays and it will grow on me. With these two tracks side by side the album again loses a little tempo.
Not for long though…
Talk about contrasts…Is that Tony Iommi knocking at the door? The guitar work on Not Today could be straight out of his riff book. Very dirty and menacing…come on Jimmy, how about playing this live? The song’s delivery is very up to date and shows that Naz can still teach today’s young rock wannabees how to deliver.
Now that we are back flying, the band then delivers that classic Naz track that is on every album. Glorious tune delivered in the traditional meaty style that won’t frighten the children. Speakeasy is a sing along good time song, great bass and tight drumming. This is the perfect track for radio. A must do live track for crowd participation.
The last track, God Of The Mountain, fits comfortably at the end of the album and keeps the pace at near frantic level to leave the listener in no doubt that forty six years on, the band can still make a statement worth listening to.
Naz are at the top of their game here, building on the success of the two recent albums. Whilst I did not really like the production on The Newz , Big Dogz was a big improvement though perhaps a nod too much to the Seventies. Rock n Roll Telephone hits the right spot production wise where the band appreciate it is 2014 but always acknowledge their roots.
This album has all the hallmarks to become even better after a few more plays and sit comfortably beside some of their best albums. It wasn’t quite the No Mean City reaction…yet in their forty sixth year delivering album number twenty three, it has given me a big smile on my face and whilst very sad that Dan has to vacate the microphone stand, he can leave feeling proud of this work. It is a very fitting testimony to one of Rock’s greats.
Keep on Nazing