Archive for Saxon

Great Metal Albums of 1985: Metal For Breakfast

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 18, 2018 by 80smetalman

Welcome to the first heavy metal compilation album I bought. It was early February 1985 when I saw “Metal For Breakfast” at my local record store. Since I often used to feel like the way the dude on the cover looks, I thought it was worth a look. When I flipped to the back cover of the album and saw who was actually on it and their songs, I knew I had to buy it straight away. Who couldn’t resist an album with Ted Nugent, Saxon, Y&T, Quiet Riot, Ozzy and Judas Priest on it. Furthermore, the songs from these artists with the exception of Judas Priest’s hidden gem, (I had never heard “The Ripper” until this album), was more incentive to get it. But that’s only half the story!

Attic Records, being based in Toronto, seemed very eager to unveil much of its local talent and they chose a good group to do so. I had heard of Anvil but never listened to them. “Forged in Fire” changed all that. Any band called The Killer Dwarfs had to be granted a listen and “Heavy Mental Breakdown” did not disappoint. This was the first step on their way to them becoming my all time favourite Canadian band. I know Mercyful Fate are from Denmark but the fact that “Black Funeral” comes right out and sings “Hail Satan” sticks one in the ear for the American religious zealots. On the second side is the lovely Lee Aaron and “Metal Queen” is mind blowing. Of course, there’s always a hidden gem and on “Metal For Breakfast” it’s the track “Metalhead” by Blotto. It takes a dig at metalheads but it’s done in a really funny way plus, it’s a good song. So what you have is a great combination of well known metal tunes and ones that weren’t so well known coming together to make a fantastic album.

Track Listing:

1. Anvil- Forged in Fire

2. Ted Nugent- Cat Scratch Fever

3. Killer Dwarfs- Heavy Mental Breakdown

4. Accept- Balls to the Wall

5. Mercyful Fate- Black Funeral

6. Blotto- Metalhead

7. Lee Aaron- Metal Queen

8. Saxon- Princess of the Night

9. Judas Priest- The Ripper

10. Quiet Riot- Metal Health

11. Y&T- Mean Streak

12. Ozzy Osbourne- Crazy Train

And I think you should listen to the hidden gem:

Back in 1985, “Metal for Breakfast” was the classic metal combination of what was known and not so known in the heavy metal world. Nowadays, it’s just a classic 80s album but it still kicks ass!

I probably looked more like this back then.

Next post: Dokken- Tooth ‘N’ Nail

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Great Metal Albums of 1984: Tank- Honour and Blood

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 19, 2018 by 80smetalman

A term that has been batted around quite a lot here on 80smetalman is ‘hidden gem.’ In most cases, I use it to describe a song I really like on an album that has a well known single or two on it. On occasion, I have also used the term to describe albums from bands who have more well known albums than the one I am posting about at the time. Now, I’m going to use it to describe a band or two. Whenever the new wave of British heavy metal, (NWOBHM), is mentioned, the first bands that come to mind, even mine, are Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Def Leppard and maybe Saxon. All of them great bands who have given us more than three and a half decades of great music. However as I tour through the years, I have discovered two hidden gems from the NWOBHM age. One I posted about a couple of months ago, Grimm Reaper. The other is brought to you now, Tank. I knew of both bands back in the day and loved them and often wonder why neither of them were as big as the others.

Back in those days, I had become quite diligent in scouring the heavy metal import section at my local record store and that’s where I came across what I think is their best album, “Honour & Blood.” The problem is that I didn’t appreciate it enough back then, so I’m making up for it now. What you get with this album is seven songs of pure metal magic. The shortest song is a mere four minutes and thirty-seven seconds long and there is only one other song less than five. Tank go off on crazy long metal jams which are just superb. There is not one song, even the two that are eight minutes long, where I am thinking that the song has gone on for too long. BTW, those eight minuters are the opening and closing tracks on the album and a good way to do it. Especially so on the closer because it features the very amusing lyrics, “Kill, the poor bastard’s dying.” What a fun way to the close the album, of course the cool guitar solo kind of punctuates it too.

As for the songs in between, they are all great! “When All Hell Freezes Over” is a typical but well done pure metal jam and I’m hooked by the way they sing the chorus. Blistering guitars adorn the title track. “W.M.L.A. (Wasting My Life Away)” and “Too Tired to Wait For Love” are also great metal anthems and more than just amusing titles. However, my favourite track is the cover of the Aretha Franklin hit, “Chain of Fools.” I admit, the rhythm reminds me a little of the Rolling Stones classic, “Satisfaction,” but the song just kicks it.

Track Listing:

  1. The War Drags Ever On
  2. When All Hell Freezes Over
  3. Honour and Blood
  4. Chain of Fools
  5. W.M.L.A. (Wasting My Life Away)
  6. Too Tired To Wait For Love
  7. Kill

Tank

Algy Ward- bass, vocals

Cliff Evans- guitar

Mick Tucker- guitar

Graeme Crallan- drums

The more I reflect back to those years, the more convinced I am that Tank were a hidden gem in the new wave of British heavy metal. They may not have hit it as big as the others, constant personnel changes didn’t help them there, but they left behind several albums, including “Honour and Blood” for us to enjoy.

Next Post: TNT- Knights of New Thunder

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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

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Great Metal Albums of 1984: Grim Reaper- See You In Hell

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 16, 2017 by 80smetalman

Whenever the new wave of British heavy metal or NWOBHM is mentioned, it is usually Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Def Leppard and Saxon who spring to mind first. These great bands blazed a trail for metal bands from both sides of the Atlantic to follow. Leading the chase out of Great Britain was the heavy metal outfit, Grim Reaper. For me, the name alone made them worth giving them a listen and that turned out to be a very wise choice.

Coming from Droitwich which is in Worcestershire, England and only about 20 miles from Birmingham, there is no surprise in the Judas Priest influence with the band. However, lead singer Steve Grimmett has a vocal style that is somewhat like Iron Maiden although I can at times hear a little of Halford as well. Okay, I’m a wishy-washy bastard. Anyway, with this mighty infusion, it is little wonder that Grim Reaper sounds as good as they do and why I think their debut album, “See You in Hell” is cool.

The title track, which is the band’s best known song leads the charge. Listening to it, it is no wonder why it’s number 38 on VHS Most Awesome Bad Metal Songs Ever. It’s definitely my all time favourite Grim Reaper song. However, the seven other songs on the album aren’t far behind and make sure that it’s not a one song album. All throughout the album are the bashing power chords and way out soloing of guitarist Nick Bowcott and the fore-mentioned vocals of Grimmett. All of which are supported by a more than capable rhythm section of Dave Wanklin and Lee Harris. This makes it difficult for me to pick out a standout song beyond the title track. They are all stomp on your face metal tunes that rock. The only possible exception is the slower, at times ballad like “The Show Must Go On.” While quality wise, its as good but no better  than the other tracks, it does depart from the hammering chords of those songs and shows that Grim Reaper are versatile. Bowcott’s guitar work is quite eerily outstanding on it. However, that only changes things up slightly before the closer blasts your ears to pieces.

Track Listing:

  1. See You in Hell
  2. Dead On Arrival
  3. Liar
  4. Wrath of the Ripper
  5. Now or Never
  6. Run For Your Life
  7. The Show Must Go On
  8. All Hell Let Loose

Grim Reaper

Steve Grimmett- vocals

Nick Bowcott- guitars

Dave Wanklin- bass

Lee Harris- drums

Grim Reaper’s debut “See You in Hell” album led the charge for what many thought would be a second new wave of British heavy metal. Especially with Maiden and Priest coming out with albums the same year. In 1984, that was true and though things would go sour for this band a few years later, this is still an album to be proud of.

Next post: Gary Moore- Victims of the Future

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Great Metal Albums of 1983: Tank- This Means War

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 16, 2017 by 80smetalman

220px-tank_this_means_war

Whenever a group of bands are identified with a certain area and style of music, there are those who stamp their names as standard bearers of that music but if you look down the list, there are many other bands in that group who typify that style but don’t get the recognition they probably deserve. For example, when Southern Rock was at its commercial hey day in the very early 1980s, bands like Molly Hatchet, The Outlaws, 38 Special and Blackfoot were the bands people identified with that form of rock. Not many would be able to identify Doc Holliday, Johnny Van Zant Band or Mother’s Finest to name just a few and they were just as good as the ones previously mentioned.

The same applies to the new wave of British Heavy Metal, (NWOBHM), which came out right after. Living in the US at the time, I knew and adored Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Saxon, Motorhead, Def Leppard but bands like Diamond Head, I only knew because I had seen them live. As for Tank, they came to my attention because I just happened to see one of their albums in the import section of my local record store. It wasn’t the one I’m posting about now.

To be honest, I didn’t listen to “This Means War” until I actually came to Britain and that was late 1986. A new friend who we nicknamed ‘Trendy Bastard’ because he dressed a little too much like Bon Jovi, had an extensive collection of music and one night, treated us to the album. It definitely made an impression on me because although I never bought this album, it has stuck in my mind for all these years.

All of the elements of NWOBHM are present on “This Means War.” When I listen to it, I hear influences from Motorhead and Judas Priest. The songs are fast paced but not at a real break neck speed. Still, the power and rhythm combine to make them catchy. Algy Ward’s vocals sound closer to that of Rob Halford and done competently.  Guitars are also done well, prime example being “I Won’t Ever Let You Down,” though I’m not quite ready to add Peter Brabbs and Mick Tucker to my guitar list. The best examples of what I’m talking about are the tracks, “This Means War,” “If We Go, We Go Down Fighting,” “Just Like Something From Hell” and “Echoes of a Distant Battlefield.”

Track Listing:

  1. Just Like Something From Hell
  2. Hot Lead, Cold Steel
  3. This Means War
  4. Laughing in the Face of Death
  5. (If We Go) We Go Down Fighting]
  6. I Won’t Ever Let You Down
  7. Echoes of a Distant Battlefied
Tank

Tank

Algy Ward- bass, vocals

Peter Brabbs- guitar

Mick Tucker- guitar

Mark Brabbs- drums

Was it because so many British metal bands were gaining status in the US the reason why Tank got left out? While they might not have been as spectacular as the greats who did achieve, they were still a cool band and as “This Means War” proved to me, they deserve some recognition.

Next Post: KISS- Lick it Up

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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

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Memories of Some Great Rock Clubs

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 1, 2015 by 80smetalman

From October 1982 to April 1983, I was stationed on Okinawa although I did spend some time in South Korea and seven weeks near Mt Fuji in Japan. For an emerging young metalhead such as myself, the challenge was to find a good place to unwind and totally rock out. The enlisted club provided very cheap beer and live bands brought over from the Philippines that usually consisted of four or five musicians with a pretty girl on lead vocals. Some of these bands were quite good, others, not so. However, it didn’t quench my desire to find some real hard rock so I had to look elsewhere. The town outside my base, Henoko, didn’t provide anything of the like but there was a town, just a twenty minute bus ride away that did.

Kin

Kin

The town of Kin had several cool rock bars, the most notable of these was called Sgt Peppers. It had a great sound system with several really cool video screens. The best part was that they always played great rock and metal. It was here that I first learned about bands like Saxon, Whitesnake and the Plasmatics. However, they mixed it with some classic rock as well. I remember the live video of “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath as well as live footage from Nazereth playing “Love Hurts” and “Hair of the Dog.” The great thing about Sgt Peppers is that whenever you went in, you were never disappointed by the music being played.

One disadvantage with Sgt Peppers was the fact that beer was so expensive, $2.25 for a bottle was rather dear in 1982-3. So, if the funds were running low, I would go one street over to another cool rock bar called Kin Loo. The Kin Loo wasn’t as sophisticated as Sgt Peppers but the beers were only $1.50. Yes, I too wish I could pay those prices for a beer these days. It might not have had the video screens like the other place but the music was still good. The best thing was that you could request what you wanted to hear and they would not just play one song but an entire side of an album. That gave me a chance to reminisce about old favourites and get an idea of anything new. This gave me the opportunity to listen to the album that started my 1983 in great style, The Scorpions, “Blackout.”

Both of these bars were great in helping me unwind from the stresses of military life. I did manage to get to the very south of Okinawa where there was an even larger Sgt Peppers and a club called Condition Green with an in house band with the same name. But that was only the one time so I had to rely on those bars in Kin. Fortunately, they were both able to provide me with what I needed. That’s why I still remember them so fondly after so many years. Unfortunately, unlike the Driftwood, the internet didn’t have any photos of them so I can’t say if they’re still there.

Next post: National Anthems

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