All joking aside this is the last great album Saxon ever made in my opinion. They’ll never sound this good ever again.
Written by: Dangerzone
ALBUM: Solid Ball Of Rock
SERIAL: 261 114
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England
LINEUP: Biff Byford – vocals * Paul Quinn – guitar * Graham Oliver – guitar * Nibbs Carter – bass * Nigel Glockler – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Solid Ball Of Rock * 02 Altar Of The Gods * 03 Requiem (We Will Remember) * 04 Lights In The Sky * 05 I Just Can’t Get Enough * 06 Baptism Of Fire * 07 Ain’t Gonna Take It * 08 I’m On Fire * 09 Overture In B-Minor/Refugee * 10 Bavarian Rhapsody * 11 Crash Drive
WEBLINKS: Site Link
The late 80’s weren’t the happiest time for Saxon, as their more melodic direction on efforts like ‘Rock The Nation’ and ‘Destiny’ saw the band lose all the momentum they had built during the early 80’s.
The music the band was producing wasn’t bad by any means, but compared to the rawness of their younger days, it was lacking the intensity one had come to expect from the lovable Barnsley boys.
Predictably a change was needed and in came bassist Nibbs Carter, fresh from a stint in Fastway and only 24 years of age. Carter must have been what the band needed as he wrote five songs singlehandedly for this album, a true return to form for Saxon, but one that perhaps came too late.
Wisely Biff and his cohorts returned to the metal sound of old, if not exactly in the same raucous vein of ‘Wheels Of Steel’ or ‘Power And The Glory’. It’s a great album however, full of anthems and melodic heavy metal, without resorting to the AOR of ‘Destiny’.
Biff sings about the devil in Louisiana on the title track, a brooding and catchy anthem co written by Bram Tchaikovsky, a fairly well known British vocalist from the late 70’s.
Carter provides the speed metal driven ‘Altar Of The Gods’, which was probably the heaviest the band had been since 1983. This ones heavy enough to make you jump out of a window. I remember Jerry Ewing describing this track as ‘hare brained’ back in 1990 in a copy of Metal Forces. What a turkey.
‘Requiem (We Will Remember)’ is the bands stirring tribute to all the late rockers and this is an example of a ballad with some balls to it, hardly of the power variety. The bands 500th UFO inspired track appears on the fast ‘Lights In The Sky’, furthering the bands claim that they were ‘back’ to their metal roots.
The opening riff of ‘I Just Can’t Get Enough’ recalls the boogie of the first albums and this is a convincing hard rocker all round, melodically and musically. Carter adds another fast inclusion, this time ‘Baptism Of Fire’ with Biff singing familiar lyrics like ‘can’t you hear the thunder roaring somewhere in the night, twenty thousand voices screaming.’ you have to love this.
There’s a bit of raunch in the tone of ‘Ain’t Gonna Take It’, which gives AC/DC a run for their money during the same period. This is far more AOR inspired mind you. There’s more than a hint of cornball during ‘I’m On Fire’, especially in the riffs and lyrics, which again can be compared to AC/DC, although the hooks here are a tad more serious in execution.
Biff gets worldy on ‘Overture In B- Minor/Refugee’ as he delivers an impassioned elegy to the displaced amongst us. I don’t know what inspired this, but musically this is straight from the ‘Innocence is No Excuse’ era, which one would assume makes it decent, but it really doesn’t, a dreary track.
Carter gets to flex his bass muscles on a brief piece titled ‘Bavarian Beaver’, which makes me think they’d been paying too much attention to Manowar. Sensibly the album closes with a decent headbanger, ‘Crash Dive’, which sounds like one of the tracks off the dozen or so Paul Dianno/Dennis Stratton melodic rock cover albums of the 90’s. It’s similar to Samson also and well done, Saxon at their heaviest.
All joking aside this is the last great album Saxon ever made in my opinion. They must have been really down their luck at the time because I recall a story of them on tour and riding around in a massive Cadillac instead of a tour bus.
1992’s ‘Forever Free’ had some inspired moments, as did ‘Dogs Of War’, but after that it was truly over. I miss Saxon in this form and with each successive album released after the departure of Oliver they just turned more and more into a dull, serious and extremely stale outfit. They’ll never sound this good ever again.
Solid Ball Of Rock
Ain’t Gonna Take It