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Articles Home » 1979 Articles » Saxon - 1979 Saxon
Saxon - 1979 Saxon

ALBUM: Saxon
LABEL: Carerre
YEAR: 1979
CD REISSUE: 2009, EMI, 50999 6 94443 2 6 (w/ bonus tracks)


LINEUP: Bill Byford - lead vocals * Graham Oliver - guitar * Paul Quinn - guitar * Steve Dawson - bass * Pete Gill - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Rainbow Theme * 02 Frozen Rainbow * 03 Big Teaser * 04 Judgment Day * 05 Stallions Of The Highway * 06 Backs To The Wall * 07 Still Fit To Boogie * 08 Militia Guard


Arguably the premier NWOBHM biker band originally going by the utterly charming moniker Son Of A Bitch which I'm sure would have aggravated Barnsley's teetotaling women's groups to no end if the band had not changed over to the far more serviceable and logo ready Saxon. The band was already a big deal in the UK when I spotted 'Wheels Of Steel' on a record store wall in 1981 and the cover alone told me I just had to have it, but as the decade wore on I became less and less interested in the band that seemed to lose their way beginning with 1984's 'Crusader'. A respectable album, but not what we had come to expect from the lads who gave us such rip-roaring classics as '747 (Strangers In The Night)' and 'Motorcycle Man'. It was obvious their NWOBHM sound of their second and third releases was something of an anomaly or a blip on the radar for their debut is something altogether different, offering up a typical 70's hard rock sound produced by Argent's John Verity.

The Songs
Think Trapeze, Nazareth and Judas Priest's 'Rocka Rolla' and you have the early Saxon vibe with 'Rainbow Theme' and 'Frozen Rainbow' tied together for a retro progressive rock epic and certainly not what you'd expect in an album of mixed successes. Turning the volume up and an indication of things to come both 'Big Teaser' and pounding 'Judgment Day' are straightforward rockers and built to please. The four on the floor biker anthem 'Stallions Of The Highway' as well as the pounding riff-fest 'Backs To The Wall' I'm sure pleased the patched denim and leather jacketed throngs although the unbelievably average Foghat styled 'Still Fit To Boogie' should be forgotten as quick as a blink. The much better 'Militia Guard' with its Sweet-like background vocals and militaristic percussion close out the album just under a half hour and while this certainly isn't the greatest debut ever recorded, there is enough classic Saxon to justify the repeated plays I've given it over the years as I'm sure many of our readers have as well.

In Summary
The last Saxon release I bothered with was 2004's 'Lionheart' which was far from the band at their best although as a concept album it did have its moments. A couple of studio releases have come out since, but I'll stick with the early records and some of the best hard rock/metal to come out of South Yorkshire.

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#1 | dangerzone on November 27 2010 13:39:52
Great review Eric. I totally agree that Saxon lost it, although I don't believe they truly became pathetic until the original guitar tandem of Oliver/Quinn split up. That said they were always best as a biker outfit and this is about as crude and heavy as it gets.
#2 | sabace on January 12 2012 19:10:35
this brings back memories - stallions of the highway indeed! good stuff .
#3 | Jez on March 11 2013 20:02:03
The first Saxon album i bought way back, and still a goodie. May surprise a few people when they listen to a couple of tracks Namely 'Rainbow Theme' and 'Frozen Rainbow' - quite Rush like in places. 'Big Teaser'and 'Militia Guard'and 'Stallions Of The Highway' are other highlights from this excellent debut.
#4 | code4 on October 04 2015 17:43:25
The secret of the rainbow with never be revealed! wow, that lyric used to crack me and my brother up (albeit after a few 'special cigarettes'). A special place in my heart for this one as i got it for 50p at a charity shop in my mid teen years having no idea who Saxon were and ended up loving it.
I think basically that i was not able to resist that cool blood-red effected back cover photo of the band on stage while at the same time the band name along with the super cheesy front cover in turn had pretty much guaranteed in my mind that they were going to be a heavy metal band i would not enjoy (not being much into metal as a teenager).
Well, it turned out it has metal edges but was to my ears more a good 70's classic hard rock 'n'roll type of sound. But also it has a sort of psychedelic pink floyd-ish vibe even (or at least it did to what were young inexperienced ears at the time). I love the atmospheric break-off parts in the opening song and 'Judgement Day' as well. Maybe the latter is my favourite song of the record but actually i would never skip songs and felt the fact it was quite short in length really worked in it's favour, leaving you wanting more! I thought also that the low-budget no-frills production also suited the album making you think that 'what you hear is what you will get' if you choose (or chose, back in 79) to go and see the band (as i sure would've done despite no doubt looking out of place amongst a fair lot of biker dudes?haha).
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