Friday, March 16, 2007

Saxon-Wheels of steel, 1980

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The New Wave of British Heavy Metal or NWOBHM for anyone not familiar with it, was an outpouring of metal bands from England that started around 79-80 and stayed fairly strong until about 83-84. Iron Maiden and Def Leppard came out of it and became huge world wide. Others like Raven and Venom have some success for a short time. Still others like Witchfinder General and Tank developed cult followings years later. Saxon maybe fell somewhere between the first two categories. They initially got a lot of notice in the early 1980's but never quite made it that big in the states. Changes in sound and line-up changes also made them seem inconsistent in the 80's. Yet there was a time from about 1979-1984 when they were pretty solid (and actually they have been good in recent years as well). My favorite Saxon album is "Wheels of steel" from 1980 and it's also the first album I heard by them. It's a cut and dry, straight ahead slab of metal that may have been more influential that it's normally credited for. If I had to describe the album in one word it would "pure". Pure as in it's solid metal without a lot of fluff, baggage or much to district from the overall sound of the album. "Motorcycle Man" kicks of the album and plunges ahead with a lot of power for the time. "Stand up and be counted" is more medium paced, but nonetheless solid and a real kicker. Then comes "747 (Strangers in the night)" which is one of the best Saxon songs of all time. Just an incredible track that gets me every time. The rest of the album is just more guitar driven metal and every track is at a high level. Saxon were truly one of the best bands to emerge from the NWOBHM movement.


Blogger Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

Great album, great review, and you should hear their brand new album The Inner Sanctum...they still have it. Outstanding.

8:14 PM  
Anonymous Rhodeislandrock said...

Saxon is one of my favorite bands, they make my Top 5. WHEELS OF STEEL is also my favorite album by the band.

I agree that the album is pure Metal. I don't think there is one weak song on the album. The solos on '747' are blistering as is the pace of 'Motorcycle Man' and 'Machine Gun'. I'd have to say that '747' is probably the best track on the record with the title track coming in second. I really dig 'Suzie hold On'. I know it was a single but I think it could have charted in the U.S. with proper promotion.

Ray - I just ordered mine today, I can't wait for the U.S. release April 3.

12:33 AM  
Blogger RockDog said...

I remember them! Cool review, Mark! (as always!)

Have a good weekend!

6:27 AM  
Blogger rock_of_ages said...

A superb album no question. Still going strong today and there new ones a stormer as well!!

7:17 AM  
Blogger Hard Rock Hideout said...

I always wondered why Saxon never got the love in the U.S. The CD I am most familiar with is Solid Ball of Rock. That disc had a few tracks that were getting a lot of play on the nationally syndicated Z-Rock (Hard Rock Station) back in the early 90's.

I was flipping through a magazine in Borders the other day, and they had a full page or two on Saxon's discography, and they mentioned Denim and Leather as essential.

Looks like I need to go shopping :-P

8:47 AM  
Blogger aXe mAn said...

Very good review!! Well written!!
I am a Saxon fan!!
I play the song "Denim & Leather" regularly!

10:29 AM  
Blogger DPTH International said...

I am quite familiar with Saxon in name only, I have never given them a chance. Maybe I'll start with Wheels OF Steel.

10:29 AM  
Blogger Metal Mark said...

Ray-I liked the last album so i may have to get the new album.

Rhodeislandrock-747 is so good that I always have to listen to it at least twice before moving on to the next track.


Rock of ages-They had a shaky period in the mid-80's, but they were strong before that and have been strong over the last few years as well.

hardrock hideout-They got some notice here in the early 80's. However by the mid-80's the amount of competetion and some more commercial style releases hurt them. I think all their albums from Wheels of steel through Crusader are must listens as are some of their more recent efforts.

Axe Man-Thanks.

dpth-They are solid metal, but they certainly have their own sound. The level of heaviness of their early albums is similar to say what Judas Priest and Accept were doing around the same time. Their more recent albums are even heavier.

7:50 AM  
Blogger Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

Yeah, Lionheart was a really strong album, but The Inner Sanctum is even better. I was just amazed by the loudness of the first three songs.

4:39 PM  
Blogger Andre du Plessis said...

Haven't heard them in a while but I remember the songs '747 and 'Denim & Leather'. Good band - didn't know they where still going, must look out for their albums again.

11:57 PM  

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