Saxon required another monumental effort to separate themselves further from the pack and achieved that comprehensively with ‘Denim And Leather’ which rightfully became one of the cornerstones of the whole genre.
Written by: Dangerzone
ALBUM: Denim And Leather
SERIAL: CAL 128
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England
LINEUP: Biff Byford – vocals * Paul Quinn – guitars * Graham Oliver – guitars * Steve Dawson – bass * Pete Gill – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Princess Of The Night * 02 Never Surrender * 03 Out Of Control * 04 Rough And Ready * 05 Play It Loud * 06 And The Band Played On * 07 Midnight Rider * 08 Fire In The Sky * 09 Denim And Leather
WEBLINKS: Site Link
At the peak of their powers in the early 80’s Saxon were untouchable and easily rose to the top of the NWOBHM movement. Admittedly 1980’s ‘Strong Arm Of The Law’ was inferior to that same years ‘Wheels Of Steel’ but compared to the hundreds of other bands roaming the scene was worlds ahead.
Saxon required another monumental effort to separate themselves further from the pack and achieved that comprehensively with ‘Denim And Leather’ which rightfully became one of the cornerstones of the whole genre. You could also argue that Saxon were ahead of Iron Maiden in regards to production and on an equal footing heaviness wise. Back then Saxon still had a vague biker image with as much boogie credentials as metal, witness the back cover with the lads all firmly planted on their machines.
‘Princess Of The Night’, ‘And The Band Played On’ and the title track became Saxon staples, a trio of anthems that remain part of the bands show a quarter of a century later. Perhaps all three have become worn out through years of live abuse and countless compilation inclusions but the initial impact they no doubt had upon arrival in 1981 still remains keen today to those who were there at the time.
It’s the remainder of the album which makes this essential listening, beginning with the hard edged ‘Never Surrender’, one of Biff’s finest rebellious vocals and punctuated by by some AC/DC style riffing. ‘Out Of Control’ recalls the raw ‘Wheels of Steel’ mannerisms, highly commercial it must be noted, but like the more clever bands Saxon keep the riffs coming to lessen the melodic hook.
‘Rough And Ready’ is the best of boogie and metal rolled into one, fast and engrossing, snarling Biff cementing his legendary status in the process. ‘Play It Loud’ again adopts the AC/DC riffing, only to maximum effect more than AC/DC were doing in 1981. Headbangers paradise in all it’s prime.
More accessible is the catchy ‘Midnight Rider’ which proves how adept and superior Saxon’s use of melody was, but is no match for ‘Fire In The Sky’ and its nuclear holocaust warnings, set to blinding speed and the trademark twin guitar lines of Oliver and Quinn, which to this day are sadly missed.
For years in the 90’s it was fashionable to bash Saxon as being outdated and albums like ‘Denim And Leather’ as relics that should be buried forever. Nobody goes around spouting that kind of rubbish anymore because Saxon are still here, going strong unlike half the bands who were cutting edge in 1995.
This was vital in 1981 and continues to be years later, music that hasn’t aged despite the connotations the title track brings to mind, that of the youth of those years who used this as a personal anthem.
Metal continues to inspire however so why shouldn’t this despite the intervening years? Saxon might not have gone on to the success they should have in the 80’s, but leaving behind immortal statements like this means they did indeed succeed. It will never be forgotten.
Entire Album (Select Tracks)
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