I wasn’t going to talk about this album until I realized the American version contained the band’s two biggest hits – well their biggest hit and the title track, which became a classic rock radio staple, though it wasn’t a hit initially – and so I figured I should deal with it. So where we are.
I have something to admit: I always thought “Hair of the Dog” was some old AC/DC song called “Son of a Bitch” where Brian Johnson was singing instead of Bon Scott for some reason. Turns out that’s not true. Turns out, moreover, that the title of the song is pretty damn clever. Now I know not only that Nazareth are not just a covers band – “Love Hurts” and “This Flight Tonight” are the only Nazareth songs I’d have claimed to know before listening to this album – but that they know what rock music is.
Even without the big hit included on the UK version, this is a pretty good example of the hard blues rock so many British Isles bands played between the mid ’60s and the mid ’70s. The musicians make the songs feel natural even though this style is anything but. (Why were people from other countries so good at loud blues music?)
The aesthetic is enough for me to forgive the somewhat lackluster quality of the songs outside of the the title track and the cover(s). Like any self-respecting blues rock band of the era, they are required to record longer songs and when they do so there is at least a little variety to the record.
This is a thing that has been done many times before as of 1975 and its to their credit that it doesn’t feel so tired. Had I encountered (the British version of) this record when I was 18 or something, I probably would have absolutely loved it.