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Articles Home » 1984 Articles » Nazareth - 1984 The Catch
Nazareth - 1984 The Catch

ARTIST: Nazareth
ALBUM: The Catch
LABEL: Vertigo
YEAR: 1984
CD REISSUE: 1997, Castle, ESMCD499


LINEUP: Dan McCafferty - vocals * Manny Charlton - guitar * Pete Agnew - bass, guitar * Darrell Sweet - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Party Down * 02 Ruby Tuesday * 03 Last Exit Brooklyn * 04 Moondance * 05 Love Of Freedom * 06 This Month's Messiah * 07 You Don't Believe In Us * 08 Sweetheart Tree * 09 Road To Nowhere


Nazareth entered 1984 on shaky ground, despite releasing a cracking AOR gem 'Sound Elixir' the previous year. Apart from Germany and a little chart action in the USA, the album hadn't achieved the sales everyone had hoped for. Keyboardist John Locke had departed in the early stages of 'Sound Elixir's creation, and guitarist Billy Rankin had enough just after it's release. So it was that Nazareth were pared down to the original four members, a label change in the air (Vertigo) and work beginning on a new album in Scotland. The decision was taken to completely modernize the Nazareth sound, with all the sequencers and digital drum effects in tow. Dan McCafferty referred to this as a serious attempt at techno Naz. Now these things can enhance an album if used properly, but it can also go horribly wrong..

The Songs
'Party Down' is as shambolic an opening cut as I've ever heard. They seem so determined to cram the song with technology that any sense of real tempo or melody is kicked into touch. Could even be the worst 'chorus' in rock, a one note chant of the song title repeated until you can't help but hit the skip button ... I did, and found that the Rolling Stones cover 'Ruby Tuesday' was much better, very much an AOR update on the old chestnut, and sounded positively brilliant after the dross from before. Charlton introduces a cool choppy riff I don't necessarily remember from the original, and the chorus is carried off very well indeed. The warning lights were surely flashing on the dashboard for many Nazareth fans though, when this cover was relased as the 'big single' from the record, showing the label's lack of confidence in the original material. It's failure was immediate and spectacular. 'Last Exit Brooklyn' is the first credible Naz original on show, a taut affair with stop/start tendencies and gives the general feeling of a tightrope pulled almost to breaking point between two buildings. Yes there's some AOR appeal but not enough to strike up the coffee meter. 'Moondance' is another matter though, and nothing to do with the Van Morrison track. Flowing AOR drifting from semi ballad to midtempo and back again, the hook reminding me of the Stones for some reason. Here the simple chorus works a treat, thanks mainly to clever chord changes going on underneath. Much better track. 'Love Of Freedom' is very atmospheric and stirring, you almost expect a rugby test match to break out at any moment, such is the 'national anthem' feel to the track. Not bad I tell you, just a little different for Nazareth. For me the album's defining moment and saving grace is 'This Month's Messiah'. An insistent thud of a rhythm overlaid with the kind of hook you'll only find at a spit-braai, all working as musical scaffolding for the effortless AOR melody going on above. There's electric/acoustic dynamic in place again, this time working well. McCafferty wailing 'how many miles to babylon' is the Nazareth I was hoping to find here, AOR somewhere between 80's Blackfoot and Uriah Heep.

Coffee meter now firing on all sixes, only for a power failure to intervene as 'You Don't Believe In Us' removes any semblance of momentum. Filled to the brim with awkward tempo and all manner of technology, again there is no room for a decent melody, I imagine scientists in white coats turning the studio into some bizarre experiment site. This one blew up I'm afraid. 'Sweetheart Tree' is passable boogie I suppose, but we've heard it all before from Naz and others, and done much better. This sounds feeble and tired, like they knew they were obligated to throw in a number like this on every album so might as well get it over with. Not inspiring I assure you. 'Road To Nowhere' is an ironically accurate end to the album, I seem to think this was a Carole King track (written by Goffin/King). Whatever the case, it's far better than much of the album, very AOR in structure and a great vocal take from McCafferty. Of the two bonus tracks on my version, a slightly different edit of 'Last Exit Brooklyn' is pure detritus ... but 'Do You Think About It' comes through as very commendable AOR with a strong hook and chorus, as well as twinkling keys in the right places. How was this left off the album, considering some of the dross on here, I'll never understand.

In Summary
So there you go, there are a couple of worthwhile AOR moments on 'The Catch' but they are few and far between, and very hard work trekking through the desert from one oasis to the next. The album bombed to almost comical proportions, not that there was much promotion from what I can gather, but I can't see that it would have made much difference. Around this time Nazareth became involved in a dispute with their ex manager who saw fit to release a raft of their albums on his own label! 1984/85 was certainly a tough period in the Nazareth camp, but they survived, won their case to have the rogue albums withdrawn and recorded a storming comeback called 'Cinema' (reviewed by Chris a while ago). I enjoyed the way Chris summed up 'The Catch' in a message recently, 'stop/start, like trying to start an old car in the winter'. More stopping than starting in my opinion, but a little easier to forgive considering the cracking albums either side of this one.

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#1 | gdazegod on May 01 2013 12:26:12
I don't have this album at all, and judging by the review, I don't think I'll bother.. lol!
#2 | AOR Lee on May 02 2013 20:29:08
Good call George, definitely one for the 'what were they thinking' category Sad
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