Saxon were at the crossroads in 1985, half way between their traditional metal sound mixed with equal amounts of hard rock and AOR.
Written by: Dangerzone
ALBUM: Innocence Is No Excuse
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England
LINEUP: Biff Byford – vocals * Paul Quinn – guitars * Graham Oliver – guitars * Steve Dawson – bass * Nigel Glockler – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Rockin’ Again * 02 Call Of The Wild * 03 Back On The Streets * 04 Everything You’ve Got * 05 The Devil Rides Out * 06 Rock n Roll Gypsy * 07 Broken Heroes * 08 Gonna Shout * 09 Everybody Up
WEBLINKS: Site Link
Saxon were at the crossroads in 1985, half way between their traditional metal sound mixed with equal amounts of hard rock and AOR. They had compromised their British sound with 84’s ‘Crusader’ by using REO Speedwagon producer Kevin Beamish.
This was an obvious attempt to try and crack the US market with a smoother, more melodic approach. This sickened their fan base who saw it as a sellout. The following year they were at it again, only with better results and one of their more enjoyable outings. The formula was so slick that Saxon should have gone platinum, instead of fizzing out without trace.
Saxon had become fond of heavy keyboard use for atmosphere and laid it on thick on most cuts. The use of huge choruses was perfunctory, creating a big stadium rock vibe.
‘Gonna Shout’, ‘Everybody Up’ and ‘Raise Some Hell’ are all classic knuckle brained party rock that were superior to the multitudes of US acts hacking away at the same territory. There are a non-stop supply of riffs to fit the group choruses which invite the listener to sing along.
‘Broken Heroes’ on the other hand is a serious ballad about forgotten war heroes. Emotive vocals from Biff along with melodic guitar lines and brazen dramatic hook should have made it a no 1 million seller. Saxon could do nothing right however and it went nowhere.
Major rock anthems such as ‘Rockin’ Again’ and ‘Back On The Streets’ contain effortless melody while still retaining hard rock aggression. Saxon were still a metal band above all and ‘Give It Everything You’ve Got’ is as fast and riff heavy as previous years, if more streamlined with deft keyboard touches.
This was bassist Steve Dawson’s final album, leaving shortly afterwards. Many felt Saxon had become unrecognisable from their roots and were trying too hard to break the US.
It didn’t matter as they, and increasingly the U.K, weren’t buying their albums. Saxon carried on in similar fashion through 86’s ‘Rock The Nations’ and 88’s ‘Destiny’ regardless, none the worse for wear if tattered critically.
‘Innocence’ was Saxon’s most enjoyable mid to late 80’s album though. Clearly the band was having fun, and invariably it’s a set of good time heavy metal. Professional to the core, it should have broken them big.
Entire Album (Select Tracks)