4 out of 5 Stars!
No Mean City is one of my favorite Nazareth albums—the band’s tenth studio release, if memory serves me correctly. This is also the first Nazareth album to include Zal Cleminson, the guitar hero of The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, who injected a boost of energy into the band, not only contributing his songwriting chops, but adding his distinctive guitar tones to the proceedings and finally giving Nazareth that dual-guitar punch I felt it needed.
Unlike most (if not all) previous Nazareth albums, no outside songwriters were used for No Mean City—the group reworked no “cover tunes”—and includes not only some sterling kick-ass rockers such as the opener “Just to Get Into It,” but also “Simple Solution (Parts 1 & 2),” “Claim to Fame,” “What’s in It for Me,” and the brutal “No Mean City (Parts 1 & 2),” but also the track “Star,” probably the finest ballad Nazareth ever recorded.
Moreover, the album features my best-loved Nazareth cover art of all time, thanks to artist Rodney Matthews, which clearly gives a hint as to the killer material on offer.
Though perhaps not as perfect as previous Nazareth collections such as Hair of the Dog or (my favorite) Razamanaz, the power and consistency of material on No Mean City easily matches that of other top-tier albums such as the previous Loud ‘n’ Proud, Play ‘n’ The Game, and Expect No Mercy, making this one another gem in the band’s vast catalogue.