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Samson - 1979 Survivors

ARTIST: Samson
ALBUM: Survivors
LABEL: Lazer
YEAR: 1979
CD REISSUE: 1991, Grand Slamm (USA), SLAMCD18 * 2001, Castle Music (UK), CMRCD 188


LINEUP: Paul Samson - vocals, guitar * Chris Aylmer - bass * Thunderstick - drums * Bruce Bruce - vocals, harmonica, guitar * John McCoy - bass * Colin Towns - keyboards

TRACK LISTING: 01 Easy As It Seems * 02 I Wish I Was The Saddle of a Schoolgirls Bike * 03 Big Brother * 04 Tomorrow Or Yesterday * 05 Koz * 06 Six Feet Under * 07 Inside Out * 08 Wrong Side Of Time


Paul Samson had already done the rounds by the time Samson's debut hit the shelves, having put time in various bands such as The Innocence, Refugee, Kelly, Front Room and McCoy. One thing these bands all had in common was the same members rotating in and out, with Aylmer amongst the personnel of Front Room. Samson actually rose from the ashes of McCoy, whom Samson himself had joined as replacement for Bernie Torme, and 'Survivors' was produced by McCoy, and nearly all the songs here are written by Samson and McCoy. It's not really representative of the metal direction Samson would take therefore, and despite being included in the lineup here Bruce 'Bruce Bruce' Dickinson doesn't sing a single note here, with Samson handling the duties. Dickinson wasn't the only Maiden connection, Clive Burr having been replaced by madman Thunderstick on the drum stool prior to recording.

The Songs
This isn't bad by any means but it's hardly an example of NWOBHM. As these songs had been written much earlier they have a typical mid to late 70's UK hard rock stance, much more traditional blues based hard rock riffing instead of anything galloping. That said it's still very heavy and on odd moments is very progressive, 'Tomorrow Or Yesterday' (the lone Samson written track) exploding with an extended keyboard solo and brutal guitar work, with slower, dreamlike passages that might make some think of Montrose's 'We're Going Home'. 'Koz' is a breakneck instrumental where Bruce delivers his harmonica with Samson's virtuosity overriding everything else. Listen to this and you might think it had been recorded in 1971. Gillan fans will be taken with 'Six Foot Under' which displays the forceful keyboard laden metal that McCoy and Towns would add for Ian Gillan's band, showing what an influence that pair had on Ian's music. Heavy Metal highlight is 'It's Not As Easy As It Seems', which is the real indicator of where Samson would take his band by 'Head On'. This one could be Russ Ballard if you think hard enough as Samson has the same vocal range. A bit of blues is thrown in on the obscurely titled 'I Wish I Was The Saddle Of A Schoolgirls Bike', and the keyboard additions to 'Inside Out' are quite welcome.

In Summary
Even by 1979 there might have been elements to this album that sounded a little dated. Some of the extended jams have that loose bluesy feel of the early 70's UK scene, but not nearly as accomplished as this. You can certainly hear what Samson were destined to become in short time, but with McCoy as co-writer the feeling that these compositions were destined initially for McCoy themselves is hard to shake off. With Dickinson taking over vocals for 'Head On' Samson sounded instantly more viable, with their own recognisable sound. There's no reason to ignore 'Survivors' however, it's a good listen for anyone interested in hearing the origins of that era of British metal. The real shame is that Samson and Aylmer are no longer with us of course.

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#1 | Jez on June 12 2008 04:52:11
One of the first appearences Of Bruce Dickinson (albeit on the back cover photo only) & one of the first NWOBHM albums to be released. To be honest, it ain't that good for the most part, but is worth getting for the fantastic 'Tomorrow Or Yesterday' (which also appeared on the first 'Metal For Muthas' album)-A Totally killer track. If you only buy one Samson album, ignore this and get the awesome 'Head On' album instead.
#2 | sir lord baltimore on April 27 2009 13:15:52
Agree with Jez 'Tomorrow Or Yesterday' is a great track. Shock Tactics is Samsons best record.

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