Nazareth are a Scottish hard-rock band from Dunfermline, formed in 1968. The band released a pair of albums on Pegasus/Peg in 1971/72, followed by a sting of albums on Mooncrest and Mountain between 1973 and 1980. A further run of titles appeared on NEMS and Vertigo during the 1980s.
Members: Pete Agnew (bass, vocals), Dan McCafferty (vocals, 1968-2013), Darrell Sweet (drums, percussion, vocals, 1968-99), Manny Charlton (guitar, banjo, synthesizer, vocals, 1968-90), Zal Cleminson (guitar, synthesizer, 1978-80), Billy Rankin (guitar, keyboards, 1980-83, 1990-94), John Locke (keyboards, 1980-82)
Nazareth formed in December 1968 from the remnants of Dunfermline beatsters The Shadettes, which included vocalist Dan McCafferty, guitarist Manny Charlton, bassist Pete Agnew, and drummer Darrell Sweet. Their name originates from the Pennsylvanian city mentioned in “The Weight,” a Robbie Robertson/Band track that had recently been covered by Spooky Tooth. In 1970, Nazareth moved to London and recorded their debut album at Trident Studios.
Nazareth released their self-titled debut album in November 1971 on B & C-subsidiary Pegasus. It features eight group-composed originals, including “The King is Dead,” “Empty Arms, Empty Heart,” and “Red Light Lady.” The album’s one cover is a seven-minute version of the Tim Rose–Bonnie Dobson composition “Morning Dew,” released as a single with the non-album flip “Spinning Top.”
Nazareth was produced by David Hitchcock (Aardvark, Walrus, Satisfaction, Jan Dukes de Grey, East of Eden) and engineered by Roy Thomas Baker in one of his earliest credits. The album features several guest musicians, including Arzachel/Egg keyboardist Dave Stewart (“Red Light Lady”), Cochise slide-guitarist B.J. Cole, and Keef Hartley Band pianist Pete Wingfield (“Country Girl”). Later CD pressings contain the non-album rarity “Friends.”
Nazareth sports a xeroxed medium upshot of the band by Jim Wilson, a photographer also credited on sleeves by fellow Scotsmen the Sensational Alex Harvey Band and comedian (and former Humblebum) Billy Connolly. The Nazareth sleeve design and plunged-baseline logo is credited to CCS Advertising Associates Ltd., the firm behind visuals to 1970–71 albums by Audience (Friend’s Friend’s Friend), Bob Marley & The Wailers, Emerson, Lake & Palmer (Tarkus), Free (Highway), IF (If 2), Jethro Tull (Aqualung), King Crimson (Lizard), Procol Harum, Tír na nÓg, and Van der Graaf Generator (The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other).
“Dear John” appeared on 7″ with the non-album “Occasional Failure.”
Nazareth released their second album, Exercises, in July 1972 on Peg. Baker produced Exercises, which features 10 group-written numbers, bookended by the epic tracks “I Will Not Be Led” and “1692 (Glencoe Massacre),” which both feature (along with “Sad Song”) string arrangements by Colin Frechter (Nite People, Linda Rothwell, Caravan). “Love, Now You’re Gone” and “Woke Up This Morning” feature ARP synthesizer by Trident engineer David Hentschel (Elton John, Colin Scot, Byzantium).
The cover of Exercises was designed by CCS Associates, which also did the visuals for 1972 albums by Free (Heartbreaker), Roxy Music (Roxy Music), and Nick Drake (Pink Moon).
“If You See My Baby”
On September 22, 1972, Nazareth issued the standalone single “If You See My Baby” (b/w “Hard Living”).
In late 1972, Nazareth linked with Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover, who’d recently ventured into production work on albums by Rupert Hine and American hard-rockers Elf. Glover produced the next three Nazareth albums.
Nazareth released their fourth album, Razamanaz, in May 1973 on the Charisma-subsidiary Mooncrest. It features seven group originals, including “Too Bad, Too Sad,” “Night Woman,” and the much-covered title-track.
Razamanaz also contains covers of Leon Russell (“Alcatraz”) and Woody Guthrie (“Vigilante Man”). “Bad Bad Boy” and “Broken Down Angel” were issued as singles. This and the followup feature cover art by illustrator Dave Field (Ginhouse, Spiteri, Hanson, Strider) who also designed the cover of that year’s Next album by fellow Scots the Sensational Alex Harvey Band.
“Broken Down Angel” reached No. 9 on the UK Singles Chart.
Loud ‘n’ Proud
Nazareth released their fourth album, Loud ‘n’ Proud, on November 9, 1973, on Mooncrest. Five of the eight tracks are group originals, including the side-one numbers “Not Faking It,” “Go Down Fighting,” and “Free Wheeler.” The album also includes covers of Little Feat (“Teenage Nervous Breakdown”), Joni Mitchell (“This Flight Tonight“), and a nine-minute rendition of Bob Dylan’s “The Ballad of Hollis Brown,” which features Agnew on fuzz bass.
Loud ‘n’ Proud topped the charts in Austria, where it was issued on the Vertigo “spaceship” label.
“This Flight Tonight” reached No. 11 on the UK Singles Chart.
Nazareth released their fifth album, Rampant, on April 26, 1974, on Mooncrest. It starts with the buzzing fan-favorite “Silver Dollar Forger (Parts 1 & 2)” and proceeds through seven further group originals, including “Loved and Lost” and “Shanghai’d in Shanghai.” The only cover is the Yardbirds freakbeat classic “Shapes of Things,” affixed to the album-closing “Space Safari.”
Rampant is the third and final Nazareth album produced by Roger Glover. Sessions took place in Montreux, Switzerland. The cover art is credited to the UK design firm Hipgnosis and American artist Joe Petagno, whose work is featured on mid-70s albums by Renaissance (Turn of the Cards), Captain Beyond (Sufficiently Breathless), Baker Gurvitz Army (Baker Gurvitz Army, Elysian Encounter), Man (Welsh-Connection), The Graeme Edge Band (Kick Off Your Muddy Boots), Roy Harper (Valentine), Clifford T. Ward (Escalator), and The Kinks (Soap Opera).
“Shanghai’d in Shanghai” reached No. 14 on the German singles chart.
On November 24, 1974, Nazareth issued a non-album cover of the Boudleaux Bryant-penned “Love Hurts” (b/w “Down”), first recorded in 1960 by the Everly Brothers.
“My White Bicycle”
On April 25, 1975, Nazareth released a cover of the 1967 Tomorrow psych classic “My White Bicycle,” backed with “Miss Misery.” Charlton produced both singles and the subsequent Nazareth album.
Hair of the Dog
Nazareth released their sixth album, Hair of the Dog, on April 3, 1975, on Mooncrest. The original UK version includes five originals, including the latter b-side and “Rose in the Heather,” “Changin’ Times,” and “Please Don’t Judas Me.”
Hair of the Dog marked the return of soundman John Punter, who engineered this album and the followup amid work on titles by Caravan, Chopyn, Curved Air, Hummingbird, Mr. Big, and the Sensational Alex Harvey Band. Manny Charlton produced Hair of the Dog and the four subsequent Nazareth albums.
To capitalize on the transatlantic success of “Love Hurts” (US #8, Can. #1), the song was added to North American pressings of Hair of the Dog. The album’s cover art was illustrated by David Fairbrother-Roe, whose distinct fantasy imagery appears on subsequent albums by Jon Anderson (Olias of Sunhillow) and Popol Ace (Stolen From Time).
“Hair of the Dog”
Released: 14 March 1975 backed with “Too Bad, Too Sad.”
On October 10, 1975, Nazareth released “Holy Roller,” their third UK standalone single, backed with “Railroad Boy.”
Close Enough for Rock ‘n’ Roll
Nazareth released their seventh album, Close Enough for Rock ‘n’ Roll, in March 1976 on Mountain. It contains eight originals, including “Loretta,” “Lift the Lid,” and “Born Under the Wrong Sign,” which features the talk box, an effects unit recently popularized by Peter Frampton. The opening track, “Telegram,” is a four-part epic with three original sections about life as a touring rock band, interpolated with the topical Byrds chestnut “So You Wanna Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star.”
The closing track is a cover of “You’re the Violin,” a song recorded in 1974 by soul singer Rosey Grier. Its writer, Jeff Barry, was part of the sixties Brill Building partnership Barry–Greenfield, the team behind hits by Manfred Mann (“Do Wah Diddy Diddy”), The Shangri-Las (“Leader of the Pack”), and numerous Phil Spector productions, including “Da Doo Ron Ron,” “Then He Kissed Me,” “Be My Baby,” “Chapel of Love,” and the Ike & Tina Turner classic “River Deep – Mountain High.”
Sessions took place at Le Studio in Morin-Heights, Québec, where Punter co-engineered Close Enough with Canadian Nick Blagona, a soundman on 1975–76 albums by Aut’Chose, Lewis Furey, Lougarou, Pilot, and the Bee Gees (Children of the World). Punter worked on this album in sequence with titles by the Doctors of Madness (Late Night Movies, All Night Brainstorms), Bryan Ferry, and Krazy Kat.
Hipgnosis designed the album’s grayscale gatefold cover, which presents an inside view of an empty limo swarmed by concert attendees. The inner-gate shows Nazareth huddled inside the limo, weary of the swarm.
Close Enough for Rock ‘n’ Roll reached the Dutch and Swedish Top 10 and peaked at No. 12 in Canada.
Play ‘n’ the Game
Nazareth released their eighth album, Play ‘n’ the Game, on November 13, 1976, on Mountain. It features five originals, including the album-openers “Somebody to Roll” and “Born to Love,” plus “Flying” and “Waiting for the Man.” The album also features covers of Alvin Robinson (“Down Home Girl”), Joe Tex (“I Want To (Do Everything for You)”), The Drifters (“I Don’t Want to Go On Without You”), and the Beach Boys (“Wild Honey”).
Blagona engineered Play ‘n’ the Game at Le Studio ahead of projects with Cat Stevens, Ian Hunter, and Starcastle (Fountains of Light).
Play ‘n’ the Game is housed in a single sleeve that shows Nazareth slumped over a dim-lit barroom card table with dour expressions (front) and tossing cards with laughter and smiles (back). It reinstates the plunged-bassline logo of their first four albums and initiates the practice and center-aligning the title between the N and H in the band’s nameplate. The cover design is by Laura Vallis, who later worked with Magnum.
Expect No Mercy
Nazareth released their ninth album, Expect No Mercy, on November 25, 1977, on Mountain. It features four group-written songs, including “Gimme What’s Mine,” “New York Broken Toy,” and the title-track. Charlton submitted three sole-writes (“Shot Me Down,” “Revenge Is Sweet,” “Place in Your Heart”) and collaborated with McCafferty on the closing track, “All the King’s Horses.” Expect No Mercy also contains covers of songs popularized by Ray Charles (“Busted”) and Randy Newman (“Gone Dead Train”).
Expect No Mercy is the last of three Nazareth albums recorded at Le Studio, where Blagona engineered the album ahead of titles by April Wine, Crack the Sky, Chicago, and Streetheart. American fantasy painter Frank Frazetta did the cover art. It depicts two sword-wielding gargoyles facing off before a brain-like dome structure. Frazetta illustrated the 1972 Dust album Hard Attack and more recent releases by Molly Hatchet.
Expect No Mercy spawned three singles: “Gone Dead Train,” “Shot Me Down,” and “Place in Your Heart.” The last of those reached No. 3 in South Africa.
No Mean City
Nazareth released their tenth album, No Mean City, in January 1979 on Mountain. This is their first of two studio albums with guitarist Zal Cleminson (Tear Gas, Sensational Alex Harvey Band) as a fifth member.
No Mean City contains two songs by the four core members (“Just to Get into It,” “May the Sunshine”), one contribution by Cleminson (“Simple Solution (Parts 1 & 2)”), one Charlton–McCafferty number (“Star”), three Charlton sole-writes (“Claim to Fame,” “Whatever You Want Babe,” “What’s in It for Me”), and an epic title-suite by all five members. This is the first Nazareth album since Exercises with no cover material.
Sessions took place in the autumn of 1978 at Ballastowell Farm on the Isle of Man. Tony Taverner engineered No Mean City with mixing assistant Martin Pearson, a soundman on recent albums by Bryan Ferry and Queen. Taverner worked on earlier albums by Burlesque, Fruupp, Jonesy, String Driven Thing, and Zzebra. No Mean City is the last of five straight Charlton-produced Nazareth albums.
No Mean City features cover art by fantasy illustrator Rodney Matthews. It depicts a spike-helmetted, knife-wielding gargoyle Grim Reaper (front) on a desolate path lined with skulls and rodents (back) before a dark castle. Matthews did prior album art for Amon Düül II, Dave Carlsen, Dave Evans, Ian A. Anderson, the 20th Century Steel Band, Thin Lizzy, and the 1977 reissue of Music Inspired By Lord of the Rings by Bo Hansson. His artwork appears on subsequent albums by Eloy, Diamond Head, Magnum, Praying Mantis, Scorpions, and Tygers of Pan Tang.
“May the Sunshine” peaked just outside the UK Top 20.
“Whatever You Want Babe”
Malice in Wonderland
Nazareth released their eleventh album, Malice in Wonderland, on February 8, 1980, on Mountain. It opens with “Holiday,” an early MTV staple with a singalong hook (“Mama, mama please, no more husbands”). This is their second of two albums with Zal Cleminson, who contributed three songs (“Showdown at the Border,” “Heart’s Grown Cold,” “Big Boy”) and co-wrote “Talkin’ to One of the Boys” with McCafferty and Agnew.
Malice in Wonderland contains four group-written numbers (“Holiday,” “Fast Cars,” “Fallen Angel,” “Turning a New Leaf”) and one Charlton lone-write (“Ship of Dreams”). This is the first of two Nazareth albums produced by erstwhile Doobie Brothers guitarist Jeff Baxter, a sixth contributor on the band original “Talkin’ ‘Bout Love.”
Sessions took place in late 1979 at Compass Point Studios in Nassau, Bahamas, where staffer Benjamin Armbrister engineered Malice in Wonderland in succession with Compass recordings by the Average White Band, The B-52’s, Burning Spear, Robert Palmer (Secrets), Talking Heads (More Songs About Buildings and Food), and Third World.
Baxter plays synthesizer and supplemental guitar on Malice in Wonderland, which he produced between the 1978–80 Doobies albums Minute By Minute and One Step Closer. His recent session credits included titles by Donna Summer, Dusty Springfield, Jakob Magnússon, Leo Sayer, Stanley Clarke, and Bliss Band, a Steely-esque outfit whose 1978 debut Dinner With Raoul is Baxter’s earliest production.
Musical guests on Malice in Wonderland include Wrecking Crew vibraphonist Alan Estes (“Fast Cars”), percussionist Paulinho Da Costa (“Turning a New Leaf,” “Talkin’ ‘Bout Love”). Singers Paulette Brown, Sherlie Matthews, and Venetta Fields provide backing vocals on “Heart’s Grown Cold.” Arranger Greg Mathieson conducts strings on “Fallen Angel.” The backing vocals on “Big Boy” are credited to Terri & The Semiconductors.
Designer Amy Nagasawa and photographer Bernard Faucon did the Malice in Wonderland cover imagery. It depicts thirties-era children at a picnic with a nearby fire. Rock photographer Fin Costello (Budgie, Japan, Tempest, Uriah Heep) took the grayscale inner-sleeve group shot, which shows Cleminson (quiffed hair) with an uncharacteristic mustache. Nagasawa also designed 1979–80 covers for Head East, Joan Armatrading, The Reds, and Yellow Magic Orchestra.
UK and North American copies of Malice in Wonderland have the band name written in slanted red brush strokes. European copies use the plunged-baseline Nazareth logo on a gradient panel (upper-left).
The Fool Circle
Nazareth released their twelfth album, The Fool Circle, on February 14, 1981, on NEMS. It features three Agnew–McCafferty numbers (“Dressed to Kill,” “Pop the Silo,” “We Are the People”), three Charlton cuts (“Another Year”, “Let Me Be Your Leader,” “Little Part of You”), two Sweet contributions (“Every Young Man’s Dream,” “Victoria”), and McCafferty’s “Moonlight Eyes.”
Nazareth return to their original four-man lineup on The Fool Circle, though keyboardist John Locke appears here as a sessionist and joined for the two subsequent albums. Side two contains a live version of the 1977 Eric Clapton hit “Cocaine,” a JJ Cale song that Nazareth performed with Zal on May 25, 1980, at the Wendler Arena in Saginaw, Michigan.
Sessions took place in late 1980 at AIR Studios in Montserrat, where Baxter produced The Fool Circle ahead of projects with Billy & The Beaters, David Essex, Keith Forsey, Lisa Dal Bello, and Rod Stewart. Beatles soundman Geoff Emerick engineered the album in succession with projects by Gentle Giant, Little River Band, Robin Trower, Trevor Rabin, UFO, and UK (Danger Money).
The Fool Circle sports cover art by Yorkshire illustrator Chris Moore. It depicts a jockey in a skull cap and jodhpurs on the back of an equine-whale hybrid in a moonlight dive off the coastal chalk cliffs of Sussex. Moore’s artwork also appears on album sleeves for CMU, Lindisfarne, Pat Travers, Racing Cars (Weekend Rendezvous), and Rick Wakeman.
“Dressed to Kill”
In September 1981, Nazareth released the live double-album ‘Snaz, recorded on May 23 at Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, Canada. It contains eighteen concert numbers and two new studio recordings: “Morning Dew,” their second version of the Rose–Dobson chestnut; and “Juicy Lucy,” a group-written original.
On this and the subsequent studio album, Nazareth are a six-piece band comprised of the original four (McCafferty, Charlton, Agnew, Sweet) plus Locke and guitarist Billy Rankin (b. 1959, Lennoxtown), a member of Cleminson’s Zal Band.
The album is technically titled It’Snaz (one word) but the first two characters appear on the back gate, hence the colloquial monosyllabic title used in most media.
Nazareth released their thirteenth studio album, 2XS, in May 1982 on Vertigo, A&M, and NEMS International. It features eleven originals, including “Mexico,” “You Love Another,” “Preservation,” “Back to the Trenches,” and “Dream On.” This is their first album with each composition credited collectively to Nazareth. The lead-off track, “Love Leads to Madness,” received medium-rotation on MTV’s second year of broadcast.
2XS is the second Nazareth studio album recorded at AIR Studios in Montserrat, where sessions took place in January 1982 with producer–engineer John Punter, fresh from his work on Japan’s swan song Tin Drum. Assistant engineer Nigel Barker also worked on 1981–82 titles by Adam & the Ants and Elton John.
Graphic artist Mick Haggerty designed the 2XS, which shows the title characters aflame (front) and singed (back). The title refers to something overdone, manic, or dangerous. Haggerty’s visual credits include earlier titles by Electric Light Orchestra (Face the Music), Gary Wright, Phoebe Snow, Styx, Supertramp (Breakfast In America), and recent albums by Gamma, Hall & Oates, The Police (Ghost In the Machine), and Split Enz (True Colours), many in partnership with 2XS photographer Aaron Rapoport.
“Love Leads to Madness”
Released: 6 August 1982 (UK)
Released: August 1982 (US)
Released: 17 January 1983 (UK)
Nazareth released their fourteenth album, Sound Elixir, in June 1983 on Marimba (UK), Vertigo (Europe, Japan), and A&M (North America). It features ten group-written originals, including “All Nite Radio,” “Rain On the Window,” “Why Don’t You Read the Book?” and “Where Are You Now.” Nazareth trim to a five piece here with the original group plus Billy Rankin.
Sound Elixir is the first Nazareth album since No Mean City produced by Manny Charlton. Sessions took place at Castlesound Studios, an Edinburgh facility owned by ex-Headboys keyboardist Calum Malcolm, who engineered Sound Elixir in succession with studio bookings by The Happy Family, Holocaust, Josef K, Orange Juice, Ossian, Runrig, and numerous other Scotish acts. The assistant engineer, Mike “Nanook” Fraser, worked on multiple 1981–82 titles by acts from his native Canada (Chilliwack, Loverboy, Payola$, Strange Advance).
Sound Elixir sports a cover designed by Matthew Curtis (@ Graffix) with photography by one Arthur Ward. It presents ‘Sound ELIXIR’ as a brand of bottled whiskey by distillers ‘Nazareth.’
“Where Are You Now”
Released: July 1983 backed with the non-album “On the Run”
Nazareth released their fifteenth album, The Catch, in September 1984 on Vertigo and A&M. It features seven group written original, including “Last Exit Brooklyn,” “This Month’s Messiah,” and “You Don’t Believe in Us.” The album also contains covers of the Rolling Stones classic “Ruby Tuesday” and the 1966 Goffin–King song “Road to Nowhere,” first recorded by Carole King and covered by multiple singers (Judy Henske, Lesley Duncan).
On this and the subsequent two albums, Nazareth are down to the classic four-piece lineup of Charlton, McCafferty, Agnew, and Sweet.
Sessions took place at Castlesound with producer John Eden, a soundman on 1983–84 recordings by Andy Fraser, Grand Prix, and Status Quo. The Catch shows a man’s baseball-mitted hand on a woman’s red-leather-skirted rear. The sporting theme continues on the back cover with pics of Charlton, McCafferty, and Sweet in mitts and Agnew holding a baseball bat.
In Germany and Spain, Vertigo lifted “Party Down” as a single, backed with the non-album original “Do You Think About It.”
Nazareth released their sixteenth album, Cinema, in 1986 on Vertigo and A&M.
- Nazareth (1971)
- Exercises (1972)
- Razamanaz (1973)
- Loud ‘n’ Proud (1973)
- Rampant (1974)
- Hair of the Dog (1975)
- Close Enough for Rock ‘n’ Roll (1976)
- Play ‘n’ the Game (1976)
- Expect No Mercy (1977)
- No Mean City (1979)
- Malice in Wonderland (1980)
- The Fool Circle (1981)
- ‘Snaz (live, 1981)
- 2XS (1982)
- Sound Elixir (1983)
- The Catch (1984)
- Cinema (1986)
- Snakes ‘n’ Ladders (1989)
- No Jive (1991)