Britain in 1973 most definitely was the year of Nazareth, a year when Melody Maker readers voted them Brightest Hope.
What is typically music-biz about the Nazareth story, though, is how serious pressure was put on them once ‘Broken Down Angel’ and‘Bad Bad Boy’ charted – reaching #9 and #10 respectively ..
Their record company Mooncrest (a subsidiary of B&C – as was their first label Pegasus) wanted the hits to keep-a-coming. You can see it from B&C’s point of view – the company didn’t lose faith even when Exercises their second album, in parts inspired by Grateful Dead’s classic American Beauty – stiffed, and now it wanted a return on that investment. Nazareth found themselves back in the studio working on a new album within six months of the ‘Razamanaz’ release.
Whereas their breakthrough in Britain was down to the strength of their own original songwriting on the Razamanaz album , it was their knack of coming up with totally fresh covers of strong songs written by other people that broke them abroad. They became huge in Canada after ‘This Flight Tonight’ soared up the singles chart there, whilst reaching number 11 in Britain. Taken from Joni Mitchell’s 1970 Blue album, Nazareth’s version – produced by Deep Purple’s Roger Glover as part of the Loud’N’Proud sessions – is more than a re-working. What they’ve done is taken the song from its folk-ballad roots right through to heavy metal. Small wonder then that Joni Mitchell was both stunned by and loved this version, reportedly even calling it a Nazareth song from then on.
The other thing that Nazareth were about to discover was funny about the business, and their path to success on a global scale, was that there’s no accounting for different tastes in the singles’ market from country to country. For instance, songs they released as singles in South America (especially Brazil) became huge hits there although those same songs hardly even got one play on radio anywhere else in the world. At the end of 1974 with a further two successful albums out, Loud’N’Proud and Rampant, Mooncrest were eager for more singles’ sales. A cover of the 1966 Yardbirds hit ‘Shapes Of Things’ (from the Rampant album) might have made a good single, but in spring 1974 they chose the self-penned ‘Shanghai’d in Shanghai’ as a follow-up to September 1973′s ‘This Flight Tonight’. Although it was eventually to become a huge favourite of Nazareth fans, it failed as a single at the time.
1974′s Rampant was the last of three albums produced by Deep Purple’s Roger Glover and to this day he is hailed by Nazareth as the man who taught them how to get the best out of themselves in the studio.Even so, everyone, including Roger, felt that it was time for a change and so Manny, who had been in charge of recording the band’s demos since the start, took over as producer for the next album that would become Hair Of The Dog in 1975..