And that change came in 1978, with the addition of ex-Sensational Alex Harvey Band guitarist Zal Cleminson.
Zal brought a lot of energy and ideas with him, and joined the band in time to record No Mean City, which was released in January 1979.
Naz as a twin-guitar quintet worked wonders even in Britain where ‘May The Sun Shine’ almost nudged the top twenty, reaching number 22 in the UK charts.
“However,” Pete remembers “after 4 albums with no hit singles, the all important American record company suggested we try a new producer and get Jeff (Skunk) Baxter of Steely Dan and Doobie Brothers fame to record Malice In Wonderland, our eleventh album.” Pete goes on, “You can imagine, we were a bit sceptical about this as Nazareth’s music had nothing in common with the music of these two bands, but at the time we met him, Jeff was also playing session guitar on 18 hits that were in the Billboard top 40 that month so we figured he must know a thing or two about making records.”Although the track ‘Holiday’ got widespread airplay on stations in the U.S., the same record company who had been desperate for hit singles botched the distribution of the record badly and the common complaint at the time was punters couldn’t buy it in stores. To this day ‘Holiday’ is one of the most requested songs at concerts and the band will always feel it was robbed of a chart hit.
After a long American tour to promote the new album the band returned home to find that their management company, ‘Mountain’, was heavily in debt and about to go bust. So for weeks on end, instead of rehearsing, Pete and Darrell were on the telephone full-time talking to moneymen and just desperately trying to pick themselves off the floor. Zal just wanted to play – day and night – and couldn’t deal with all the financial hassles getting in the way of rehearsals so he left to form his own band, Tandoori Cassette, which never took off.