Great Metal Albums of 1986: Saxon- Rock the Nations

October 11, 1986 was my first time attending a concert at the famous Hammersmith Odeon in London. No prizes for guessing who the headline band was or I wouldn’t be writing about it now. The support act will get the treatment in the next post but that night, I was excited about finally getting to see NWOBHM stars, Saxon and they didn’t disappoint.

An additional bonus on the night was that Saxon were on tour for their latest album, “Rock the Nations.” While I might have been there to hear some of my favourites from earlier years like “Wheels of Steel” and “Princess of the Night,” (they played both), the new material they played that night was just as good and of course, I had to get the album.

According to some critics, (I never pay attention to them anyway), “Rock the Nations” sounded cliche-ridden and sighted the departure of bassist and key song writer Steve Dawson as the reason why. Having only just started exploring Saxon in detail at the time, I didn’t know the internal politics of the band and for me, the album had everything I liked about Saxon in it.

“Rock the Nations” opens with the title track and makes it no secret that this is a Saxon album. Critics might have called it cliche but to me it was typical Saxon. If they wanted to pick on any track and they do, it’s the first single, “Waiting for the Night.” First, I can’t fathom why it was called a sappy ballad because I find it a radio- friendly, mid-tempo metal song. The other so-called sappy ballad is the closer, “Northern Lady.” Yes, it’s a ballad but in no way is it sappy. It’s a power ballad to the max with a great guitar solo. Furthermore, being married to a northern lady, it holds a special place for me in my metal heart.

Singles and ballads aside, there are some real cookers on this album. “Battle Cry” and “We Came to Rock” are great ones but if you want full on power chords and great solos, then you must listen to “You’re No Angel.” That track is the power rocker and its successor, “Running Hot,” gives it a one-two punch. “Empty Promises” walks the tightrope between all out power rock and the more radio friendly melodic metal. Actually, I thought this one would have made a better single.

This leads me to the hidden gem and the one track that’s definitely different. I’m talking about “Party ’til You Puke.” Something I did more times than I’d like to admit back then. There is a jazz feel on the song, mainly down to the fact that the band got some pianist named Elton John, (you might have heard of him), to tinkle the ivories on it. But while it has a jazz feel, there is enough power chords on here to let you remember that it’s still a Saxon metal song. The guitar work here says it all!

Track Listing:

  1. Rock the Nations
  2. Battle Cry
  3. Waiting for the Night
  4. We Came to Rock
  5. You’re No Angel
  6. Running Hot
  7. Party ’til You Puke
  8. Empty Promises
  9. Northern Lady
Saxon

Biff Byford- lead vocals, bass

Graham Oliver- guitar

Paul Quinn- guitar

Nigel Glockler- drums

Paul Johnson- bass (doesn’t not actually play on the album)

Elton John- piano on “Party ’til You Puke”

Those same critics once said “Rock the Nations” will be an album quickly forgotten by the Saxon faithful. I have never forgotten this album. I’ve always considered it Saxon’s “Welcome to England” present for me.

Next post: Loudness- Lightning Strikes

To buy Rock and Roll Children, email me at: tobychainsaw@hotmail.com

12 Responses to “Great Metal Albums of 1986: Saxon- Rock the Nations”

  1. Banger! I especially love Battle Cry.
    Very jealous you saw them live on this cycle.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Party Til You Puke with a jazz feel…OK you sold me on that one!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great stuff as I do enjoy Saxon and cool you saw them back in the day. Can’t wait for the Loudness post.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The more I hear from Saxon, the more I like.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This was the last Saxon album I bought back in 86. It was nothing personal lol it was due to so many bands and magazines to keep up with that some stuff would slide off the radar.
    Having said that The Eagle Has Landed and Power and the Glory are my two fav Saxon albums. Stellar!

    Liked by 1 person

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