What does it sound like?:
It’s easy to forget now, but as the seventies became the eighties, the big teasers from Barnsley were one of the leading lights of NWOBHM, alongside the likes of Def Leppard and Iron Maiden. Unlike those two bands, who went on to achieve global success that continues to this day, Saxon rather faded from the picture after their initial onslaught. Although the band is very much still a going concern with a new album in the works, their fortunes are somewhat diminished these days. However, this thirty four track double cd set covering their golden years from 1979 – 1988 is a great summary of their glory days in the sun.
I remember seeing them when they were still called Son of a Bitch, and so eagerly bought their debut album, represented here by four songs, and a fine start to their career it was too, even if it was a bit rough and ready in places. This was a mere taster though for their mighty second album, Wheels Of Steel. This album still sounds good today – the title track, 747, Strong Arm Of The Law, Dallas 1pm – all great stuff. The next release, Denim and Leather, continued their run of form, with the band at their commercial peak – check out The Bands Played On, Princess Of The Night and Never Surrender. For me, their powers then started to wane with the disappointing Power and The Glory – another success but one that didn’t quite hit the spot for me. There followed a series of increasingly less successful, patchier albums – there were some good songs still, but they were rather inconsistent, not helped by a number of line up changes after the inevitable inter band fall outs over the years. Crusader is maybe the best of these albums, with the sound a bit more polished, although Innocence Is No Excuse is also good in parts – see Broken Heroes and Rockin’ Again to get an idea of their sound in this era. Rock The Nations didn’t really work, although trivia fans will note Elton John guesting on piano on Northern Lady. The set concludes with the Destiny album, notable for its cover of Ride Like The Wind – Christopher Cross never sounded like this!
What does it all *mean*?
A good summary of the band’s first ten years – although overall you’d have to conclude they didn’t consistently fulfil their early promise often enough to make it into the really big league.
Goes well with…
Remembering the golden days of NWOBHM.
Might suit people who like…
Maiden, Leppard, the usual suspects from that era.