What does it sound like?:
In the mid eighties the big time seemed to beckon for Saxon. Having extricated themselves from their contract with indie label Carrere and signed for EMI, the band seemed set to step up to the next level. After a couple of so so releases which saw contemporaries like Iron Maiden and Def Leppard disappearing over the horizon, the band needed to deliver with this album. Innocence Is No Excuse showcased a slicker more radio friendly almost pop metal sound, in contrast to the heavy riffing they were known for. As such, it gave them their highest US chart placing, but for me the best piece on here is the most traditional Saxon song Broken Heroes. The other songs rely on more straightforward melodies and structures with simplistic singalong lyrics, which may well have worked better in a live setting than on here. Good in parts, but nothing to set the world on fire.
Having not really hit the mark previously, 1986’s Rock The Nations marked a return to the old tried and tested formula. Indeed, the album gets off to a strong start, with its first two songs heralding a real return to form. However, this isn’t maintained over the course of what is another patchy album, with a few winners being lost among weaker songs. Oddly, the album features a couple of collaborations with Elton John, neither of which are anything special. So a promising start dissipates as the album loses steam and focus., resulting in a frustrating rather than bad album, which leaves you wondering what might have been.
1988’s Destiny seemed set to be the band’s last shot at the big time as EMI’s patience began to run out. The band seem at a bit of a low ebb, with too much reliance on formulaic 80’s rock songs and production, and not enough inspiration, not helped by line up changes. Most of the songs are a bit flat, with the notable exceptions of Red Alert and For Whom The Bell Tolls, and, the best song here, a rocked up cover of Christopher Cross’s power ballad Ride Like The Wind, which gave the band an unlikely minor hit. Overall though the album is another patchy effort, which sadly seems to be the key phrase for this part of the band’s career. Too AOR for the old school metal fans, not commercial enough for fans of albums by bands such as Magnum.
All three albums come with extensive bonus tracks, mainly demos, B sides and live material, and are nicely packaged in hardback covers with photos and plenty of background information on the albums.
What does it all *mean*?
Just around the next corner, the band were dropped by EMI, fired their management and were forced to take time out to recharge their batteries and rethink their strategies. It would be a long road back.
Goes well with…
Beer drinking and hell raising.
Might suit people who like…