Saxon Re-release The First Three Albums in Expanded Format In Digi-Book Sleeves
Wheels Of Steel
Strong Arm Of The Law
They say the first three albums of any bands career are the most important and boy, in the case of Saxon wasn’t this the case.
Starting off as Son of a Bitch Saxon paid their dues playing every gig that came their way. When a French record label career came looking and liked what they saw Saxon wee ready for the challenge and it was at this point the band changed their name to the more commercially attractive Saxon from Son of A Bitch. There was no lack of attitude from the Barnsley Boys however and the debut album produced by guitarist John Verity captures the bands raw and committed sound. Another thing in Saxon’s favour was the then prevailing musical trend…. The New Wave of British Heavy Metal or NWOBHM as Sounds put it. From early days through to the present the band embarked on a journey that continues right up to the present; a hugely successful one with thirteen million albums worldwide sold to date.
The self-titled debut album form Saxon recorded in early 1979 and released in May 1979.Saxon was not only considered the inaugural album in this new genre but also a very promising start for the band. Whilst some of the material was perhaps tentative and unsure of the direction, songs like Militia Guard, Stallions of The Highway and Backs to The Wall left you in no doubt where Saxon was going. The next album and the next year were pivotal for the band and kicked the doors in and saw Saxon getting on a ride which they are still on today….
Come 1980 and the NWOBHM was well underway and garnering praise from much of the music press and attracting a whole army of fans who were too young to have known anything about rock or even punk. Having already released their debut self-titled album in 1979 Saxon were primed to deliver their second album. Little did they or anyone else know just how important Wheels of Steel would become, not only for the band but also the NWOBHM.
Wheels of Steel opens with a huge statement of intent with Motorcycle man and follows that with the rabble-rousing anthem Stand Up And Be Counted. One of the key things about Saxon was that the guys in the band were just ordinary bands and the audience connected with that “We are one of you” attitude which was repaid when the album went gold on release in May of 1980 Many of course will remember the two hit singles drawn from this album. The title track and 747 (Strangers In The Night) both of which sold in sufficient quantities as singles to give the band hit singles and also appearances on British TV music show Top Of The Pops. 747(Strangers In The Night) has also been played on every tour the band has undertaken since the album came out. A third single Suzie Hold On also showed respectably in the UK singles charts……… Saxon had arrived with this album and was determined to stay
Many bands would take a few years to pitch up with their third album but in the autumn of 1980 just four months after their commercial breakthrough with Wheels of Steel. Some journalists saw fit to criticise the band for running out of ideas for Strong Arm of The Law but the reality is it was a strong offering and remains a favourite with the by now ever growing fan base. Key Saxon tracks featured ion this album are Dallas 1PM , Heavy Metal Thunder and the title track Strong Arm Of The Law. The track many people homed in on was Dallas 1PM which was about the assassination of President Kennedy and when the band released the album in what was to become an important market, America that track opened the album in a revised running order, replacing Heavy Metal Thunder as the opener. Strong Arm of The Law and Dallas 1PM retain their places in the Saxon set list to this day and have become huge fan favourites since the albums were released almost forty years ago
These reissues are essential for anyone interested in and with a love of British rock music or even the NWOBHM. Saxon were the standard bearers of this genre alongside Iron Maiden and deserve both the respect and admiration as one of Britain’s finest bands, not to mention exports. All these albums come in miniature Digi-book covers with a booklet containing photos and information form the time and bonus tracks from the period the album was released in. Saxon were criticised and mocked over the years, but the truth is, in what they do, they do it very well in fact nobody does it better and proof of that is the band still release albums and tour regularly to huge appreciative audiences as these albums approach their fortieth anniversary many of the songs contained on them will find themselves in the set list being performed to audiences who are as fervent now as they were when the albums were first released.