This assortment of various demos and unreleased material comes courtesy from the Graham Oliver and Steve Dawson ‘Saxon’ side of the fence.
Written by: Dangerzone
ALBUM: Diamonds And Nuggets
LABEL: Angel Air Records
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England
TRACK LISTING: 01 Stallions Of The Highway (Live) * 02 Midnight Rider (Live) * 03 Frozen Rainbow (Live) * 04 Turn Out The Lights * 05 Coming To The Rescue * 06 See The Light Shining * 07 Stand Up And Be Counted * 08 Freeway Mad (Part 2) * 09 Ann Marie * 10 Lift Up Your Eyes * 11 Street Fighting Man * 12 Still Fit To Rock ‘N’ Roll * 13 Big Teaser * 14 Frozen Rainbow * 15 Walking * 16 Make ‘Em Rock * 17 Stone Room Jam * 18 Ain’t You Glad To Be Alive * 19 Freeway Mad (Part 2 old)
WEBLINKS: Site Link
This assortment of various demos and unreleased material comes courtesy from the Graham Oliver and Steve Dawson ‘Saxon’ side of the fence, both men currently embroiled in a bitter court battle with Biff Byford’s real Saxon over the rights to the name.
This 78 minute collection encompasses nineteen tracks, spanning nearly thirty years with early tracks from Coast, Dawson and Quinn’s early 70s band prior to Saxon, up to three shelved ‘Power And The Glory’ outtakes from 1983. It can be repetitive, two versions of ‘Freeway Mad (part 2)’ and ‘Frozen Rainbow’, but overall this is a fine glimpse into Saxon’s forgotten moments.
A trio of live favourites open the CD, ‘Stallions Of The Highway’, ‘Midnight Rider’ and ‘Frozen Rainbow’, with the liner notes stating Nigel Glockler is on drums, so these must be culled from a 1983 gig. Nothing exceptional. Two of the ‘Power And The Glory’ edits follow, ‘Turn Out The Lights’ and ‘Coming To The Rescue’.
The third effort ‘Make ‘Em Rock’ appears near the end, but all three are the main reason to own this CD. Representing Saxon at their peak, it displays their penchant for melody and crunch. ‘Turn Out The Lights’ can almost be pegged as AOR Metal, with a favourable hook and thrilling guitar fills. The lyrics, concerning a retired circus highwire walker devastated at the closing of the circus, are brilliant off-beat Byford lyrics.
‘Coming To The Rescue’ and ‘Make ‘Em Rock’ are full tilt metal, and of better quality than much of the actual 1983 album, particularly ‘Watching The Skies’ and ‘Midas Touch’. These could have made a classic album that much better.
Hardcore Saxon fans (I’m part time these days) will find much to savour with raw demos of ‘Wheels Of Steel’ cuts like ‘See The Light Shining’, Stand Up And Be Counted’, ‘Street Fighting Man’ and both ‘Freeway Mad (part 2)’ versions. Inevitably they are a pale shadow of the final copy.
‘Ann Marie’ is a song recorded by Saxon in their ‘Son Of A Bitch’ days, and contains a riff used later for 1981’s ‘Midnight Rider’. This was written before Biff showed up, according to Oliver. ‘Lift Up Your Eyes’ is a Coast composition with Byford on vocals, while ‘Walking’ is Coast‘s first recording, from way back in 1972, typical and basic early 70’s Savoy Brown type hard rock.
Elsewhere ‘Still Fit To Rock ‘N’ Roll (later removing the r ‘n’ r and adding’ boogie’), ‘Frozen Rainbow’ and ‘Big Teaser’ represent the debut albums crude origins, while the memorable, unreleased, ‘Ain’t You Glad To Be Alive’ and ‘Stone Room Jam’ (later to become ‘The Eagle Has Landed’) complete an exhausting listen.
There’s a lot to digest with this one, although for many fans the demos of already well known standards might become grating. I cannot emphasise how superior the lost 1983 session tracks are, quality musicianship, perfectly produced and most of all metal of the highest order.
The booklet enclosed with the CD is first rate, with detailed liner notes from veteran scribe Dave Ling and a track by track analysis from Oliver and Dawson. While these men may be wrong to insist they are the real Saxon, hats off for making this music available, even it is a cash in. Oliver states that ‘there are many more gems to be unearthed should the demand exist’. That’s nice, but next time more unreleased bonuses maybe?
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