It remains a mystery, the original title of the Scots' ninth LP, as the record they delivered to their label didn't have the blistering sabre-dance that is "Expect No Mercy" on it. It was a totally different product even though it shared half of the tracks with the finished variant, the souped-up one which A&M hoped would send the quartet back up the charts. Not that the original songs were bad as this reissue, revealing the first version for the first time, proves - the crystal ballad "Moonlight Eyes" was to be revived three years later for "The Fool Circle", and the omission of the rousing "Life Of A Dog", a worthy follow-up to another canine gem from the NAZ canon, feels sinful - but ultimately, the suits were right: the platter didn't pack much punch.
So Manny Charlton as a producer, and a principal writer this time, grafted some weight to what was to remain on the cards without compromising the band's country leanings. Yet the bluegrass picking had to get impressively metallized in the "New York Broken Toy" bustle and go down the drain from CRAZY HORSE's "Gone Dead Train", but the speeding up of and adding volume and bass swing to the soulful "Shot Me Down" only sharpened its glossy drama. More so, the honing of the delirious, guitar-as-brass, "Kentucky Fried Blues" allowed the foursome to build a new song, the funky charmer "Gimme What's Mine", around its memorable riff, whereas stripping "Revenge Is Sweet" of its initial embellishments made the groover too streamlined to be etchy. When it comes to simple things, still, there's nothing better on the album than the acoustic romp through "Place In Your Heart" and the Ray Charles-indebted, C&W-tinctured reading of "Busted".
The singer's love for black music infused the epic folk drift of "All The King's Horses" with gospel sway while his compadres attached the tasty drone to the album closer's rich tapestry, giving it the loch-sized depth and making it a great augmentation to the record which justifies the sending of some other tracks to the cutting floor. There's nothing special about the bluesy "Desolation Road", "Can't Keep A Good Man Down" bubbles like a nice idea to be elaborated on, and "Green" is too insipid a rocker for NAZ anyway but it boasts a great Scottish bit amidst all the riffing. There were no mercy towards those, and quite rightly so: the real diamond emerges when it's faceted, and this reissue is the best example of it.
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