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SAXON Saxon Reissue

By Rob McNees, Vinyl Aficionado
Friday, June 22, 2018 @ 2:07 PM

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BMG Records

As Vinyl has made a much heralded comeback, all manner of people are attempting to cash in, and record companies are obviously no exception. So for fans like myself, it’s mind-boggling to see labels reissuing albums that quite frankly aren’t that hard to snatch up an original copy of to begin with. They could at least jazz it up a little maybe??

Well I’m well chuffed and giddy like a schoolboy on prom night with BMG’s reissues of one of the finest NWOBHM bands to ever don denim & leather, that being the mighty SAXON!!!

Not only remastering the albums, but throwing in loads of unreleased goodies that have been begging to be heard. And some amazing stuff it is to Brothers & Sisters.

So let’s start at the top, with the album itself. One of the earliest proponents of this newly christened New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, their self-titled debut originally came out on the French label Carrere Records. Dropping on May 21st 1979, the cover immediately grabbed you with the Anglo Warrior with sword and shield attacking as the proud red SAXON logo screamed for your musical attention.

But it wasn’t all just shiny wrapping paper with no substance inside, once the needle dropped on this slab of UK mayhem, pure unadulterated British Steele was unleashed. The opening salvo was the two fisted shot of short instrumental "Rainbow Theme" leading into the semi-ballad "Frozen Rainbow". Lead singer Peter “Biff” Byford showing right off the bat that he had the pipes to carry the flag for fine British Heavy Rock. The riff for "Big Teaser" comes blasting out of the speakers showing that SAXON could indeed play music that fit the barbaric cover. "Judgement Day" starts off with Peter “Frank” Gill showing his meddle, and a mellow interlude showing that SAXON can go either way, hard or subtle, and be damn convincing either way.

One of my favorite Heavy Metal biker tunez of all times is next as "Stallions of the Highway" comes charging in with guitar duo Paul “Blute” Quinn and Graham “Oly” Oliver riffing like a V-Twin roaring down the motorway. “I got the wind in my hair” indeed! "Backs To the Wall" keeps the fists banging while bassist Steve “Dobby” Dawson keeps that bottom end thundering. "Still Fit to Boogie" has a little bit of Boogie in it, but don’t let that dissuade you from enjoying it. Album closer "Militia Guard", with its military style drumming cadence and solo guitar leads into a epic track, with touches of acoustic guitars amongst the riffing and dual harmony guitars. If SAXON hasn’t shown you that they’re no one-trick pony here, then maybe you should be listening to hair rock.

Which brings us now to the bonus material, and for a SAXON Metalhead, it’s legendary stuff! First up is the earliest demos when the band was called SON OF A BITCH. From 1978, future SAXON bangers like "Big Teaser", "Stallions of the Highway", "Backs To the Wall", "Rainbow Theme" and "Frozen Rainbow" are showcased here. Pristine sound from demos 40 years old. Not necessarily 180* different from the final versions that made it to the debut, but when you see what SOB was writing in ‘78, it makes you appreciate them that much more.

And that’s not all! Also here is the essential BBC sessions from Tommy Vance’s Friday Rock Show! Transmitted on 15th February 1980, it shows the NWOBHM in full swing and SAXON already at the forefront. "Backs to the Wall", "Stallions of the Highway", "Still Fit to Boogie", and early versions of "Motorcycle Man" and "747 (Strangers In the Night)" off of the seminal Wheels of Steel album that wouldn’t see the light of day for another 3 months! Also included is the live version of "Judgement Day", which was the B-side to the "Suzie Hold On" 7”.

But wait, there’s more!!!! Also included is 3 live tracks from the legendary Monsters Of Rock gig from 1980! If you’ve been under a rock somehow and you don’t know what this is, let me clue you in. This particular Donington Festival was held 16th August, 1980 on the Castle grounds in England and featured the lineup of US bands TOUCH and the amazing RIOT, Canadians APRIL WINE, SAXON, Germany’s Heavy Metal export SCORPIONS, and then titans JUDAS PRIEST and RAINBOW w/Graham Bonnet headlining the bill. It was a headbangers dream and a huge break for SAXON. In fact, there was an album released of this very show featuring 1 song each from TOUCH, RIOT, APRIL WINE and SAXON with 2 from SCORPIONS and RAINBOW and nothing from JUDAS PRIEST. I always wondered where were the rest of the songs from this show. So here’s a little taste right here. All 3 songs from the debut, "Still Fit to Boogie", "Stallions of the Highway" and "Backs To the Wall" also released on the M.O.R. album.

So there you have it, the first release of the SAXON reissues. The CD comes in a fine small book with pictures, lyrics and interesting info. A worthwhile purchase for a 1st time buyer or if you were there from the beginning!

For my Vinyl familia, I haven’t seen a reissue yet to know if all these goodies come on Wax or not. So keep your eyes peeled!

4.2 Out Of 5.0 Skulls

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