Nazz – Nazz Nazz (1969): On Second Thought

Share this:

Draped in dapper Mod wear, Nazz not only cut a stunning figure, but had the talent to match, while generous press coverage provided increased exposure.

Formed 1967 in Philadelphia, Penn., Nazz featured lead singer and keyboardist Robert “Stewkey” Antoni, lead guitarist and vocalist Todd Rundgren, bassist Carson Van Osten and drummer Thom Mooney. Signing a deal with SGC Records, they furnished the label with a trio of albums before splintering in 1970.

Released in the fall of 1968, the band’s self-titled freshman album contained a pair of minor hit songs that would both enjoy bouts of revival. “Open My Eyes” appeared on the landmark compilation album Nuggets: Psychedelic Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era 1965-1968 in 1972, and, a year later, Todd Rundgren – now a solo artist – scored a Top 5 winner with a remake of Nazz’s “Hello It’s Me.”

Their sophomore album was initially christened Fungo Bat, and was slated to be a two-record set. Later retitled Nazz Nazz, it testified to be just as fantastic – if not better – than the debut effort. The band’s adoration of British luminaries such as the Beatles, the Yardbirds and the Who remain as guideposts, but an exploration of new possibilities additionally defined the material.

Nazz Nazz gets the gig going in a highly exhilarating manner with “Forget All About It,” which zips and zooms with storming harmonies and melodies as sharp as glass. Both inject commercial pop sensibilities into a hard-rocking disposition. “Not Wrong Long” then snaps, crackles and flashes with like-minded movements.

Greased with volume and power, the absolutely shattering “Under the Ice” cops cues from the heavy-handed doodlings of the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Blue Cheer, and then there’s “Meridian Leeward,” a curious slice of psychedelic whimsy.

Tooting horns intersect accordingly with driving fretwork on the blues rock-oriented “Kiddie Boy,” and “Gonna Cry Today” registers as an alluring ballad built around poignant lyrics and buttery vocal exercises. Nazz Nazz closes on grand footing with “A Beautiful Song,” which clocks in at more than 11 minutes in length and dispenses a diversified layout of imaginative curves and contours.

Mixing standard pop and rock practices with experimental sprinklings, Nazz Nazz pushed all the right buttons and should have sent the band into superstar stratosphere. Perhaps if they had the support of a bigger record company, things would have been different but it was not to be. Although Nazz coughed up one more album, titled Nazz III, they had called it quits by the time it was issued in 1971.

Following the group’s expiration, Todd Rundgren embarked on the previously mentioned, quite successful solo career. He also became involved in various other projects, played in a gaggle of groups – most notably Utopia, Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band and the New Cars – and gained the reputation as an in-demand producer.

Stewkey Antoni and Thom Mooney went on to join Fuse, who eventually changed their name to Sick Man of Europe. Mooney exited the band by then, and Antoni left prior to Sick Man of Europe morphing into Cheap Trick, who have always cited Nazz a primary influence.


Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 with "Stand By Me" -- which is actually one of her favorite songs, especially John Lennon's version. She's contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as Rock Beat International's associate editor. Paterson has also published Inside Out, and Twist & Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Beverly Paterson
Share this:
Close