It was obvious that Saxon’s NWOBHM sound on their second and third releases was something of an anomaly or a blip on the radar, for this debut is something altogether different, offering up a typical 70’s hard rock sound produced by Argent’s John Verity.
Written by: Eric
SERIAL: CAL 110
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England
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
WEBLINKS: Site Link
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.
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 backing 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.
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.
Entire Album (Select Tracks)