Listening to Exercises by '70s Scottish hard rockers Nazareth just one time will make you wonder how this could possibly be the same band that went on to record such hard rock classics as "Hair of the Dog," "Bad, Bad, Boy," and "Love Hurts." Exercises, the band's sophomore effort, is a collection of mostly acoustic tracks with lush harmonies and little sign of the driving in-your-face rock that they showcased on their debut Nazareth. The album has a few good moments but it certainly is a document of a band that has made a temporary mistake in deciding their musical direction. The band was known for being a pure powerful hard rock band in concert and on later releases, but on this album they decided to abandon the riff-heavy guitar assault they showcased as a live act. On tracks like "Madelaine" and "In My Time," the band comes across more like laid-back English pop balladeers Badfinger than their real contemporaries like Deep Purple and Thin Lizzy. The role of acoustic folkies does not suit Nazareth well. There are a few strong moments on the album. "Woke Up This Morning" is a strong track that provides a bluesy vocal performance by Dan McCafferty, driving rhythm, and some great slide guitar work by Manny Charlton. "Called Her Name" is another song where the listener will find the band hitting full stride and sounding much more comfortable. Unfortunately, moments like these are too far and few between on this album. Fortunately with the help of Deep Purple bassist/producer Roger Glover, the band managed to return to their hard rock style and finally captured their live sound on their follow-up album, 1973's Razamanaz, which cemented their reputation as an upper-echelon hard rock act of the '70s.
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AllMusic Review by Paul Tinelli