The news surrounding this album, the 23rd from Nazareth overall, is that it is in all likelihood the last to feature the whisky-soaked vocal styling of Dan McCafferty, the band's long-standing lead singer who is now experiencing ill health.
Reading a little deeper into that, with McCafferty having to call it a career, bassist Pete Agnew will be the last original member standing, meaning that this is probably the swansong release for Nazareth, period.
The good news is, for fans who've stuck with the band for forty years and new fans alike, Rock 'n' Roll Telephone is a very strong effort. Every band would like to go out with a bang, or in this case a "Boom Bang Bang," a song that even though about a heated relationship between a man and a woman, with lyrics like "If they're gonna be damned/Might as well have a little contraband/Gotta have more than a one night stand…" could just as easily be about the band.
"One Set of Bones" is '70s-style Nazareth and a perfect example of the kind of rock that influenced Guns N' Roses, who famously covered early Nazareth song "Hair of the Dog."
"Back 2B4" is a catchy sing along powered by acoustic guitar and apparently cut live in the studio as you can hear the band clowning on the intro and outro, the title cut is a slow and sizzling blues rocker and a great showcase for McCafferty's vocals while "Punch a Hole in the Sky" sounds a bit like Motorhead doing "Smoke on the Water."
Beginning with a little scratching, "Long Time" tunes into a modern funk/pop groove and fans of the band's big hit "Love Hurts" will like the sound of the slow and emotional "The Right Time."
The album ends with a trio of loud-n-proud rockers with the classic Nazareth sound in "Not Today," "Speakeasy" and "God of the Mountain."
Gotta say it; thank you Dan, thank you Nazareth for four hard-rockin' decades and thank you for one of the greatest rock catch-phrases of all time, "Now you're messing with a son of a bitch!"
You can order the album here.
Nazareth - Rock 'n' Roll Telephone (5 Stars)