Incredibly, by the time this album was released in 1981 by
Vertigo Records as a live double album (oh those good old days of vinyl),
Nazareth had already released thirteen studio albums. That does not include the
masses of Greatest Hits, etc., that have been put out over the years by the
record companies. That was surprising as Nazareth had always been known as a
live band, guaranteed to deliver live and pack them in wherever they were
By not putting out their live albums until 1981, Vertigo
rather missed the boat. Punk rock had already come and gone, which had not
really hurt Nazareth as they were always too hard-edged to be roped in with the
hated progressive bands like Pink Floyd, Genesis, etc. However, when you look
at what live double albums did for the careers of the likes of U.F.O. with
‘Strangers In The Night’; Deep Purple with ‘Made In Japan’; or Thin
Lizzy with ‘Live And Dangerous’, it raises the question of how would
Nazareth have fared had they had the extra kick of a double live album out on
the shelves as further grist to their mill.
There is no doubt that this is a mighty tome indeed.
Nazareth’s original Scottish quartet of musicians are still together by the
time of Snaz. Manny Charlton with his thick chords and chopping riffs. Was
there ever a tighter rhythm section of Pete Agnew and Darrell Sweet? And all
topped off by the gravel vocals of Dan McCafferty, who sounded as though he
gargled with acid before hitting the stage.
The only changes to the lineup to this point had been the
addition of fellow countryman Zal Cleminson (ex- The Sensational Alex Harvey
Band) for a couple of albums and tours directly before this album. The story
goes that the rest of Nazareth found Zal temporarily between bands driving
taxis in Glasgow, Scotland. Not believing that such a talent was not actually
playing in a rock ‘n’ roll band, they dragged him out of the taxi and
immediately enrolled him in the band until he found his musical feet again. And
then when he did, they let him go.
After Zal departed, the band felt a bit of a musical void,
so they enrolled fellow Scots Billy Rankin on guitar and John Locke on
keyboards. Then they set out on a massive tour of North America, recorded every
concert for their projected live album, and decided that the concert held at
the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, Canada, was just what they wanted. So they
discarded all the other recordings and put this one out in its entirety.
I think they were right as it catches the band on what was
definitely a special night. Starting with the epic ‘Telegram’ (the story of
being on the road with a rock ‘n’ roll band, including the immortal lyric
“I need your picture, smile this way, oh, by the way, will you tell me what
you play?) they carried on till a rousing encore of Nazareth’s biggest hit,
the ballad ‘Love Hurts’, followed by a version of ZZ Tops ‘Tush’, left
both, band and crowd, breathless.
In-between are all the classic Nazareth songs and cover
versions which they became famous for. Of course this is one of the advantages
of not recording your live album early in your career, but saving it till you
have a full two hours of classic material. Mind you, if Nazareth had released a
live album in the early seventies, they could have done an equally good one for
Snaz was first released on CD in 1997, but horrifically,
that was a pretty poor effort as the sound was very tinny, and it was not
possible to get all the material from the live double vinyl album onto one CD.
As a solution they hacked off six tracks to make it a more manageable seventy
minutes, and so completely ruined the flow of the running set, especially as it
meant missing out ‘Big Boy’, magnificently penned by Zal Cleminson.
However, Eagle Records have gotten hold of the original
masters and under the expert supervision of Robert M. Corich and Mike Brown,
the original Snaz has been returned to its full glory. The spread covers two
CDs, has new liner notes, and even the two new studio tracks that had been
tacked onto the end of the live recording in 1981 have been faithfully
Whether you want to buy a collection of Nazareth’s
greatest hits or just of a very fine rock ‘n’ roll band doing what they do
best on the live concert circuit, Snaz will not disappoint.