Archive for Denim and Leather

Great Metal Albums of 1984: Saxon- Crusader

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 14, 2018 by 80smetalman

My trip through all the great albums of 1984 has led me to make many conclusions about the year, the music and certain bands. Here’s another one. It is my belief that Saxon were the best band from the new wave of British heavy metal, (NWOBHM), age not to have made a major impact in America. Sure, I had heard of them and even heard a couple of their songs back when I was in the marines stationed on Okinawa and liked them, but I never got around to listening to them properly until early 1985 when I heard their classic “Princess of the Night” from the outstanding “Denim and Leather” album on a metal compilation album. While I did make up for that mistake afterwards, I still think that Saxon never really got the recognition in America they truly deserved.

Onto Saxon’s 1984 album “Crusader.” The problem is that when any band puts out the album one calls their favourite by that band, all other albums are held in comparison to that one. In my case, all Saxon albums are held up to the light shone from “Denim and Leather” and that’s not particularly fair to “Crusader.” What Saxon did on this album is to take all the great things from the one album and recreate it on this album while at the same time not making it a total clone of the former. I think the objective was achieved on “Crusader.”

I love the way “Crusader” opens. It starts with medieval fanfare with galloping horses and all before going into the big title track. For me, it’s history coming to life through music as the story of crusaders is told in the song. It also helps that that period of history is one of my favourite eras. You know, knights on horses hacking down their enemies with swords, damsels in distress and catapults reducing castles to rubble, I love all that. I do think that if teachers play this song while teaching about it in school, more metalheads would wake up and pay attention and learn about all about the Crusades.

Tired cliche alert: One song doesn’t make or break an entire album. The rest of “Crusader” holds up very well and I do hear all the good things done on “Denim and Leather” on it. It’s just that one track, “Just Let Me Rock” seems to take all of those good things and incorporate them all into one song, although the title track of “Denim and Leather” seems to be the biggest influence here and that’s not a bad thing because Saxon definitely did not simply clone that song. On that thought, “Bad Boys Like to Rock and Roll” sounds like a fusion of the “Denim and Leather” tracks “Rough and Ready” and “Midnight Rider” and again, it’s done very uniquely and played outstandingly. The one song where there is no influence from my favourite Saxon album is the power ballad, “Do It All For You.” Power is the key word in the song and it does belt your eardrums even though it’s a ballad. However, the big clincher on the track is the Biff’s vocals. His best effort definitely shines through here.

I usually view covers of songs with a hint of cynicism and I did so with the cover of The Sweet classic, “Set Me Free.” Another cliche alert: Saxon put their own stamp on it and make the song their own, believe me they do. It’s not often that I like a cover as much, possibly more than the original, but I can’t fault Saxon’s efforts here. The answer, I think to why I like this song and all the other songs so much, is the guitar work of Oliver and Quinn. Both guitarists are simply exemplary on the album.

Track Listing:

  1.  The Crusader Prelude
  2. Crusader
  3. A Little Bit of What You Fancy
  4. Sailing to America
  5. Set Me Free
  6. Just Let Me Rock
  7. (Bad Boys) Like to Rock and Roll
  8. Do It All For You
  9. Rock City
  10. Run For Your Loves

Saxon

Biff Byford- vocals

Graham Oliver- guitar

Paul Quinn- guitar

Steve Dawson- bass

Nigel Glockler- drums

While I might have only highlighted a few songs on “Crusader,” let me just say that all the songs make this album great.

Next post: Motorhead- No Remorse

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to: https://book-fm.cf/print/free-download-rock-and-roll-children-by-michael-d-lefevre-pdf.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Great Metal Albums of 1983: Saxon- Power and the Glory

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 26, 2016 by 80smetalman

220px-powerglorysaxon

For a young American living in the sticks of Southern New Jersey in 1983, Diamond Head was probably the best kept secret of the new wave of British heavy metal, (NWOBHM). I only was fortunate to know their existence because I happened to see them live in England that summer. However, if that is truly the case, then Saxon was the best NWOBHM band not to fully get the respect in the US they truly deserved. Their 1983 album “Power and the Glory” is a solid piece of evidence as to why.

It would be a very difficult task for any Saxon album to knock off “Denim and Leather” as my favourite album of theirs, so “Power and the Glory” will have to settle for number two. It is every much the killer as its 1981 predecessor! I have to admit, I’m pretty much impressed with all eight of the tracks on here. Maybe that’s why it’s only number two because “Denim and Leather” has nine.

“Power and the Glory” opens with the title track which is a good song to catch your attention. However, compared to the other tracks on the album, it’s the weakest, not that in any way it’s not a good track, it is. But the others that follow are mind blowing. Some really cool guitar solos from Oliver and Quinn on the tracks “Nightmare” and “This Town Rocks.” On the latter, I am wondering which town they are singing about because back in the mid 1980s, I lived in a town that didn’t. Some might say that about the town I live in now in the UK but those who rock aren’t visible. They just come out whenever a cool band like Hells Bells comes to town. Here I go digressing again. Great songs all here!

Impressing me further is the intro to “Midas Touch.” While Saxon has historically had many songs whose introduction has been a great hook, the one on this track takes the top spot for the album. And like so many Saxon songs, “Midas Touch” isn’t a song with a great intro that descends into mediocrity as the song progresses.

If my favourite Saxon album didn’t have such a killer closing track, then I would probably be gushing over the closer on “Power and the Glory.” I have to put “Denim and Leather” totally out of my mind so I can sing the praises of “The Eagle Has Landed.” It works in so many ways, as a closer and as a song in itself, great song. I have to say that I think Biff and the boys were on top form when they made “Power and the Glory.”

Track Listing:

  1. Power and the Glory
  2. Redline
  3. Warrior
  4. Nightmare
  5. This Town Rocks
  6. Watching the Sky
  7. Midas Touch
  8. The Eagle Has Landed
Saxon

Saxon

Biff Byford- vocals

Graham Oliver- guitar

Paul Quinn- guitar

Steve Dawson -bass

Nigel Glockler- drums

Some might argue that with all the great metal, especially (NWOBHM) albums that were out in 1983, it’s easy to see why Saxon’s “Power and the Glory” might have been overlooked in the US. No excuse I say and I wish it didn’t take me another two years before I started listening to Saxon in earnest. This album deserves to stand with all the other ones that were around in that year.

Next post: Y&T- Mean Streak

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

 

 

Great Metal Albums of 1982: Saxon- The Eagle Has Landed

Posted in 1980s, Concerts, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 18, 2015 by 80smetalman

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One of the things I should have realised, but didn’t, is that there were some killer live albums in 1982. Three of them, Black Sabbath- “Live Evil,” Michael Schenker Group- “One Night at Budokan” and Blue Oyster Cult- “Extra Terrestrial Live,” I bought not long after they had come out. The fourth, Ted Nugent- “Intensity in 10 Cities” would escape my knowledge for a long while. That’s the problem when you are in the military and spend most of the year deployed overseas. It creates a Swiss cheese effect on things like musical releases from bands you might follow. This caused me to completely miss a fifth great live album and one that definitely stands shoulder to shoulder with the ones I’ve already listed. That is Saxon- “The Eagle Has Landed.”

Having seen Saxon live before I got to listen to “The Eagle Has Landed,” I had a very strong inclination that this was going to be an excellent live album. I was right. It has all of the classic Saxon songs at the time with the bonus touch of being played so well live. I thought it was only natural that they used the great song “Wheels of Steel” for the audience participation part of the show. After all, that song is one of their best known songs.

The added bonus for me was that the album was recorded while Saxon were on tour for my favourite album of theirs, “Denim and Leather.” “Princess of the Night” has its much deserved place on the album and is played brilliantly on it. Here is my personal slight disappointment about that. Other than “Princess,” the other two songs, “Never Surrender” and “Fire In the Sky” wouldn’t have been my first choices from “Denim and Leather” to use on the live album. Don’t get me wrong, they are both cool songs but why the hell wasn’t the title track on it? After all, “Denim and Leather” is a metal anthem that rings true throughout the metal generations! I thought it was only right that it be on the live album. Another song I would have used would have been “Play it Loud,” almost for the same reason. Saying that, “And the Band Played On” and “Midnight Rider” appear on the 2005 remaster. But enough of me nit picking, there are so many great songs on “The Eagle Has Landed” that it makes it a guaranteed good listen.

Track Listing:

  1. Motorcycle Man
  2. 747 Strangers in the Night
  3. Princess of the Night
  4. Strong Arm of the Law
  5. Heavy Metal Thunder
  6. 20,000 Feet
  7. Wheels of Steel
  8. Never Surrender
  9. Fire in the Sky
  10. Machine Gun
Saxon

Saxon

Biff Byford- vocals

Graham Oliver- guitar

Paul Quinn- guitar

Steve Dawson- bass

Nigel Glockler- drums

Like I said, there were many great live albums in 1982. Saxon’s contribution “The Eagle Has Landed” definitely belongs along side of the other great ones from that year.

Next post: Twisted Sister- Under the Blade

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

 

Great Metal Albums of 1981: Saxon- Denim and Leather

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 17, 2014 by 80smetalman

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I know I’ve said this before, but Saxon didn’t fully come to my attention until 1985. I had heard of them before that and even remember liking one of their songs but I can never remember which one. I blame it on the booze. Their master song “Princess of the Night” appears on a compilation album I had bought in the above year but it would be more than another year until I saw this great album “Denim and Leather” on sale at my local record store for $3. I snapped it up without further thought and it is probably the wisest investment I ever made.

“Denim and Leather” is my all time favourite Saxon album and it is easy to understand why. But before I sing it’s praises, let me begin with the one minor flaw with the album, if you want to call it that. It is with the song “Rough and Ready,” which is about being a hard man. Now, in my mind, there is nothing more ridiculous than someone who is clearly not hard trying to sound like they are and sorry Biff, you’re not convincing here. Saying that, the song does redeem itself with some good musicianship equal to the rest of the album.

That leads nicely to the monster classics on this album, there are no fewer than five blockbusting songs on “Denim and Leather.” Of course,  I have to mention the track already mentioned “Princess of the Night.” It has such a killer intro that stays with you long after the song is done. Even now, I listen to it and say “wow!” Not taking anything away from the three songs that follow “Princess of the Night,” especially “Never Surrender,” but “Play It Loud” is definitely the “Wheels of Steel” of the album in the sense that it is the perfect song to play at full volume when driving in your car. I bought the album on cassette so I got to do a lot of that back in the day. Just when you’ve gotten over it, your ear drums are once again assaulted by another great one in the form of “And the Band Played On.” The guitar work in this song is completely amazing, my head just wants to keep banging away to it even when it’s over. “Midnight Rider” follows on and between this song and “Princess of the Night,” I get the impression that Saxon are into trains because that’s two songs about them. That doesn’t stop the former from also being a killer song. Then following “Fire in the Sky,” which like April Wine’s “Caught in the Crossfire” is about nuclear destruction, a relevant fear back in 1981 with Ronald Regan wanting to put cruise missiles everywhere, is one of the finest album closers of all time. The title track “Denim and Leather” is the best way to bring any album to a close. Like the other gems on the album, it has that memorable guitar crunch that aids Biff Byford’s vocals in creating history. For me, Saxon’s “Denim and Leather” is definitely my pick for one of the best albums of 1981.

Track Listing:

1. Princess of the Night

2. Never Surrender

3. Out of Control

4. Rough and Ready

5. Play it Loud

6. And the Band Played On

7. Midnight Rider

8. Fire in the Sky

9. Denim and Leather

Saxon

Saxon

Biff Byford- vocals

Graham Oliver- guitars

Paul Quinn- guitars

Steve Dawson- bass

Pete Gill- drums

When people mention NWOBHM, they are quick to say Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Def Leppard, but Saxon only gets mentioned as an after thought in many cases. I think the problem was that they put out their three greatest albums in rapid succession, sort of like Blackfoot. Furthermore, Oliver and Quinn often get left out when great guitar duos are mentioned. They are every bit as good a combo as Downing/Tipton and Smith/Murray. It is a shame that they didn’t make it as big as the the others but they’re every bit as good. “Denim and Leather” is proof in the pudding.

Next post: Sammy Hagar- Standing Hampton

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London