Official website the ex Nazareth guitarist and Rock Radio host

Nazareth (again)

Nazareth's No Jive lineupA phone call from Pete out of the blue: “Manny’s oot, we want you back!” After phoning Manny, who confirmed he was indeed “Oot” adding “Best of luck Bill, you’ll fuckin’ need it!” Billy rejoined the band as sole guitarist for the first time. They toured the States with Ten years After & Blackfoot, Europe with Kansas, Saga, Uriah Heep, Wishbone Ash, all those old guys, the word, Revival, was used a lot! Then they did No Jive!

Before rejoining Naz, Billy had written Cover Your Heart, Every Time It Rains and Right Between The Eyes whilst playing with La Paz, demos featured on Radio Clyde Rock Show. A fourth track, Johnny Don’t Dance, was also intended for No Jive but Dan felt he didn’t do it justice despite his liking for the song. Cry Wolf was “Iffy.” Demo time in Coatbridge studio was taken and rough versions of Rains and Eyes recorded. However, versions done on Billy’s 4-track at home were deemed superior and the project moved to Dunfermline. Cry Wolf also demoed.

No Jive was written and arranged at Shorties Rehearsal Studios, Elgin Street, Dunfermline just prior to departure to St Ingbert, Germany to do album proper. The 4-track was used after agreeing keys/harmonies and structure thus a regular tape recorder was also set up which recorded the entire time spent thrashing out each song. Pete’s Tell Me That You Love Me evolvement is particularly interesting. The idea was to have everything demoed to save time in Germany including transferring drum machine patterns to samplers etc. Band members met at nearby Jinty’s Bar and Billy would eventually depart to Shorties, either to lay down drums and guitars for Dan & Pete to play to or with either of them if required. A short list of songs (Definite/Possible/Naff) was compiled which featured future Boogaloo tracks Open Up Woman, Lights Go Down, The Robber & The Roadie, The South and Kremlin Party. Excepting Cover Your Heart (see By Jove feature) the track listing was set and approved by all. Open Up Woman to be included if they could knock it into shape in St Ingbert.

Ian Remmer’s credit of Engineer on No Jive was possibly unexpected by the man himself. “Most lucky to be alive” was his true and agreed position within the first week’s recording. From then on, he would set up the required mics and patches for the day’s schedule (vocals/overdubs etc.) and leave. In return, they spared his life. Billy controlled the desk and Pete took on the role of co-producer for Dan, Billy or Darrell’s dubs. Billy and Pete took two days solid, alone and the bass guitar tracks were completed. After a hard day (pints of Champagne and orange all round!) everyone wanted a ‘playback.’ Normally, the engineer would have to realign the desk, change reels and generally cater for the wants of the client but fear of Nazareth and fear of wiping the tape prevented both sides from risking it. Instead a DAT machine was linked up from where rough mixes could be blasted through the monitors safely. A second pair of 100-watt speakers and DAT etc. was installed upstairs in the TV room in case anyone couldn’t make it off the couch.

Although released through a duff record company, response to No Jive was a major boost to the band. In particular it took care of the “Where’s Manny?” sections of fans and promoters and Billy no longer felt as if he were in his shadow as he, quite rightly, was in the 80’s line-up. Manny himself was also complimentary. For the first time in years, they were getting airplay and MTV coverage as a band with something new to offer. (Danny Bonnaducci’s Chicago radio show is well worth trying to get hold of). Billy threw himself into the next batch of writing and Move Me was ready to record a few months later. All they needed was a deal. David Krebs (of Aerosmith’s Lieber & Krebs) flew to Scotland and, following much backslapping, gave the go-ahead to record Move Me. He never asked to hear any of the songs. “Billy’s wrote ’em? That’s good enough for me!” Once in Germany, Krebs backed down and the band were stuck in a studio they couldn’t pay for, recording an album with no deal. In stepped old friends from Polygram GMB, Karin and Astrid, who’d been impressed with the reaction to No Jive in Germany. Deal done, album saved and to be released on a real label again.

1994 also saw Billy, Pete and Dan undertake 2 short unplugged UK tours where songs like Simple Solution and Shapes Of Things were given the acoustic treatment. These shows are particularly memorable for their intimate nature and humour content. (Get a tape of one of these shows; you’ll know what we mean.)

At this time, Billy was also a member of two ‘fun’ bands who played many weekend gigs in pubs and clubs around Glasgow. The Broons featuring Pete Agnew on bass and his son, Lee (now with Nazareth) on drums and yet another line-up of The Party Boys with Zal, Ted McKenna and bassist Nick Clark.

Initial response to the album was good and a major tour (backed by Polygram) of Europe scheduled for Feb/March ’95 sent the band into rehearsals in optimistic mood….then…. The colour, texture or adhesive quality of shit which flew, let’s leave it! Billy says, “I have no intention of bad-mouthing any of my former band mates or stirring things up. My expulsion from Nazareth (I was fired) occurred due to circumstances identical to Manny’s dismissal in 1990 and, like Manny, I wish them all the best. We last got together for Darrell’s funeral and shared many happy memories together. I’m never likely to forget, hopefully we’ll do it again sometime in less tragic circumstances.”

Part 1: Early days | Part 2: Nazareth | Part 3: SoloPart 5: Rock Radio


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