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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on May 1, 1999
On "Denim and Leather", Saxon clearly demonstrates why they are one of heavy metal's guiding lights. While lesser bands mindlessly put riffs together, Saxon has a firm grasp of the elements that go into writing good songs. On several tracks, like "Denim and Leather", "Princess of the Night", as well as "And the Bands Played On", Saxon reveals a penchant for strong hooks, anthemic choruses, and soaring thematic guitar structures. This is the album that brought Saxon to the forefront of the early 80's metal scene and established them as a emerging power. This album is a classic representation of the early stages of Saxon's career and should be a part of your collection. Play it loud!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Iron Maiden may be the best known band from the legendary New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) scene, and rightly so, but for a time Saxon was a close second. Actually, once Maiden acquired Bruce Dickinson and took on the larger world stage, it was Saxon that best embodied the sound and spirit of the NWOBHM scene. The speed, the frantic energy, the "denim and leather" attitude - Saxon had all that and then some.

Saxon's trademark sound changed a bit in 1981 when they recorded Denim and Leather, their fourth album in just three years (I still can't get over that). The label brought in a new producer (Nigel Thomas) and I think that cost them some of the unique feel of Wheels of Steel and Strong Arm of the Law. Still, the band was getting better with each passing year, and their songwriting skills kept improving. Denim and Leather features some of the best known Saxon tunes, including metal anthems "Play It Loud", "Never Surrender" and of course the rousing title track. In addition to the fist-pumping metal songs, there are some surprisingly good mid-tempo numbers like "Princess of the Night" and "Midnight Rider" that appeal on a totally different level.

It's probably not as essential as Wheels of Steel and Strong Arm of the Law, but Denim and Leather is still a totally worthwhile album that all Saxon fans should own. I'd also recommend it to just about any fan of classic heavy metal in general and British metal in particular.

Edition Notes - EMI reissued Denim and Leather (along with the rest of the early Saxon albums) in 2009. EMI has been responsible for some of the best-sounding classic hard rock reissues lately (see: Whitesnake, UFO, MSG and the Scorpions), and their Saxon reissues do not disappoint. In addition to the digitally remastered sound, the reissue of Denim and Leather features expanded liner notes by Classic Rock Magazine's Malcolm Dome and a whopping nine bonus tracks, essentially doubling the original album's length. The first bonus track is a remix of "20,000 Ft." (from the Never Surrender single), and the rest are live tracks from that era. Between the remastered sound, liner notes and bonus tracks, there are plenty of reasons to replace your old version of Denim and Leather.

PS - When you line up the spines of the EMI Saxon reissues they form the Saxon logo and the Wheels of Steel cover icon. I'm a total geek for stuff like that!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2005
Well, I was 5 in '79 but, later, when I first heard this 1981 release by Saxon, I understood why they hit it big and are still going strong (yet underrated). Saxon was part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal that was unleashed on the world in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Formed in 1977, Saxon--as is announced in the track "Denim and Leather"--burst on the scene in 1979 while on tour with Motorhead. Denim and Leather was their 4th album in just three years of putting out studio releases. It starts with "Princess of the Night," an interesting and charming track about an old, obsolete steam locomotive that brought fond memories to one young admirer: "She used to be an iron horse, 20 years ago." It sounds like early Iron Maiden (another of the Brit Metal New Wavers). Although this track and others on here resemble the style of Paul Di'Anno era-Maiden, vocalist Biff Byford sounds so much like Bruce Dickinson on this first track, it's scary! "Princess..." is my favorite song on this album followed by "Out of Control" with its catchy guitar hooks.

The rest of the album has a blue collar hard rock sound. Fans of early AC/DC and early '80s Judas Priest will like Saxon's rawness and aggression. The title track is an anthem to rock 'n roll that would fit nicely on any AC/DC album of that time. "Play It Loud" is another AC/DC-esque anthem. Saxon may have sounded blue collar, but they also paid attention to details. "Rough and Ready" has some nice vocal harmonizing. "Midnight Rider" is another favorite of mine. It reminds me of the catchy tracks off Judas Priest's Stained Class. There is nothing weak here; every track kicks! Recommended to fans of early 1980s metal during a time when metal was about to be accepted as cool by the record-buying public and well before pop metal bands began to swarm on the music world.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 1999
Energetic, creative, metal coming from the heart!!! This CD by Saxon reveals with details what was the NWOBHM in the 80's. THis CD has Saxon playing powerful, but simple and rocking, songs, with drummer Pete Gill playing amazingly, Biff singing all his chords, the guitar duo of Oliver and Quinn not so good on solos, but amazing on riffs and bass player S. Dawnson delivering a good rhythm section. "Princess of the Night" is an ultimate classic!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 27, 2003
I've been a Saxon fan for well over 20 years, and I've seen all the debate over their lack of major, worldwide success that bands such as Maiden or Priest enjoyed. 'Denim & Leather' holds some of the answers to that burning question of why Saxon never garnered the attention of the bigger bands of the time.
When I speak of Saxon's lineup, I'm talking about the band from 1979-1985. I don't consider anything after 1985's 'Innoncence is No Excuse' to be true Saxon ('Innocence' doesn't have much to do with true Saxon music, though it had a few bright spots). Musicianship was never a question. Graham Oliver & Paul Quinn were the most underrated guitar duo of the New Wave metal bands, Steve Dawson always gave a workman-like (if unspectacular) bass performance, and Pete Gill/Nigel Glockler could thunder with the best. When we get to Biff Byford, however, the problems begin. Byford's voice is best described as a third-rate Ian Gillian knockoff, and he showed weak range & power in his vocals. Trying to carry subject matter & lyrics that were often trite with a weak voice was a drag on the band. You'd never mistake Biff for Rob Halford, Graham Bonnet, or Bruce Dickinson. Biff's best vocal work showed up on 'Power & the Glory'. On to 'Denim & Leather' now.
First, the good stuff. 'D & L' opens with an absolute classic Saxon killer, 'Princess of the Night'. The main riff hits you right in the gut, and after Graham Oliver's ripping solo slaps you upside the head, you're ready to replay the song about 15 times. A Saxon Top 5, hands down. 'Never Surrender' is an angst-ridden trip back to the band's youth that was a hit in the U.K., and a cool song to boot. 'And the Bands Played On' is Saxon's very own 'Smoke on the Water', a tune about their gig at Donnington's Monster's of Rock the previous year. It's a short, rocking song with a catchy main hook riff. 'Fire in the Sky' is a fast-paced, hard-hitting nuclear holocaust tune, comparable to 'Motorcycle Man' in terms of structure. Finally, the title track is a classic Saxon anthem about the New Wave of British Heavy Metal ("where were you in '79/when the dam began to burst/") featuring more piercing solo work by Oliver.
Sadly, this album also began a bad trend for the band. 'Denim & Leather' seemed to start the band's penchant for radio-friendly filler junk songs. 'Rough & Ready' is utter filler garbage that should've stayed on the cutting floor. 'Play it Loud' is a silly attempt at an airplay-friendly anthem, with a laughable main riff. To a lesser extent, 'Out of Control' seems to be the most polished & commercialized track on the album. It's a decent song, but a little weak in the knees (much better than the two mentioned before). Funny how 'Never Surrender' was a hit, when it's glaringly clear that 'Out of Control' was aimed at radio. 'Midnight Rider' isn't bad, but once again comes up a little weak. Think of it as a tamer version of Motley Crue's drivel-anthem 'Girls Girls Girls'. Biff croons about riding a tour bus across the U.S.A., without the raunch of Crue's stupid song. Okay, but nothing that sticks like 'Princess'. 'D & L' is a good album, but it isn't the watershed point that many claim it to be. 'Wheels of Steel' & 'Strong Arm of the Law' were much stronger efforts.
This penchant for including too much filler material became a staple in the band's future releases (with the exception of 'Power & the Glory', which I believe to be the band's finest hour). Too many forgettable songs delivered by a lead vocalist with a forgettable voice were vital components to Saxon's downfall. In the end, the key to their failure was the unwise decision to abandon their strong cult following by shifting gears and penning the radio-friendly, commercial tripe that showed up on 'Crusader' and the next few albums. The title track to 'Crusader' was Saxon's last great anthem. Such a shame for so promising a band. There was a reason Steve Dawson quit after 'Innocence' flopped and created backlash by fans. I guess Byford's proclamations that 'Crusader' & 'Innocence' were indeed sellout attempts at commercial success didn't sit well with Dawson, much like it didn't sit well with fans who stuck by this band. A stronger follow-up to 'Power & the Glory' could've vaulted Saxon to elite status. Well, we'll never know.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 16, 2005
After two phenomenal albums in 1980, Saxon put out -Denim & Leather- in 1981 and countiued their streak of exellent albums.

A reviewer could be easily fooled here, there are a mixed bag of postive and negative postings on this NWOBHM classic but don't be decived by those. True, this isn't as good as say -Wheels of Steel-,-Stong Arm of the Law- or even -Power and Glory-, you have to consider the fact that this album was predominantly written on the road. This is still a very good Saxon CD though, i find it to be my personal favorite mainly because of the "heavy metal rules, screw everything else" atmosphere that exudes from it.

The production is pretty clear for a early 80's rock album, so it's got pretty good sound qaulity wise for a metal record. I find that even thought there are a couple fillers on this one, it's still pretty solid in material. "Princess of the Night", "Play It Loud", "And The Bands Played On", "Midnight Rider" and "Denim & Leather" are the best songs.

I really love the song "Denim & Leather", it is one of the greatest heavy metal songs ever written. It is a tribute to the fans basically, which i like because shows how these guys loved and appreciated their fans.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 27, 2009
During my formative years, an older, more experienced "seen-it-all" metal veteran friend of mine played a song and band I had never heard up to that point -- it was Saxon's "Denim and Leather." In hearing it, I was instantly addicted to the awesome, reverby power chords in the song and the timeless lyrics of metal brotherhood and the D.I.Y. spirit that anyone who wants to can get up and start a band if they so desire. This song embodied the very essence of the NWOBHM scene that spawned Saxon, one in which bands released some of the most exciting hard rock/heavy metal music the world had ever known, largely through independent and self-financed recordings made outside the bounds of major labels and record executives. I luckily found the LP used at the time at a local mom-and-pop record store (remember those?). (This was back in the early to mid-'90s, when both Saxon's and most NWOBHM releases in general were only available on CD in the form of outrageously expensive Japanese imports, that I by default couldn't afford.)

Years later though I did get my hands on the 1996 Holland import CD pressing on Disky of the vinyl record I'd long cherished, "Denim and Leather." Let me tell you that I've never been more disappointed in my life! Not only was the packaging terrible and almost nonexistent, but the sound quality was noticeably "cleaned up" and sterile, all but stripping this masterpiece of its original rawness and power.

You can imagine then how much I rejoice now in 2009, when Saxon's early releases FINALLY get CD releases that for the first time do these essential recordings justice.

Never has this been more apparent than on the group's strongest outing to date, "Denim and Leather," originally released in September 1981. Finally, that awesome reverb and big roomy sound of the original vinyl is back and forever frozen in time on CD, and without the expected crackles and pops characteristic to old records. Unlike previous pressings, this sounds just like the vinyl.

"Denim and Leather" contains some of Saxon's all-time classic songs and ones still played live by the band to this very day. Aside from the aforementioned title track, the album features the single "Never Surrender," a fast and true heavy metal anthem for the ages about soldiering on and never giving up, even when people and other forces of opposition stand against you. If Saxon's music doesn't embody this spirit, I don't know what does. "Play It Loud" is an earthshaking number about cranking this music up loud and proud, even when people try to silence it, and this particular record was tailor made for doing just that. My all-time favorite though has to be the speed metal scorcher on the LP's B-side, "Fire in the Sky." I've always loved it. If the frantic tempos and awesome reverb of this track don't blow the roof off the place in no time flat, nothing will.

If that weren't enough, each reissue contains liner notes with input from frontman Biff Byford himself and even a reproduction of the LP's original back cover, making them essential for collectors, so much so that I've officially retired my worn old Carrere vinyl pressing of this album. (It goes without saying that I also have sold my copies of the previous, inferior CD pressings and upgraded to these.)

In short, this is one of the greatest heavy metal records of all time and finally in a reissue that gives the recording a new lease on life. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 6, 2004
This is one of my favorite heavy metal albums...ever. Saxon were a fist-pumping, headbanging heavy metal band from Britain. They never really hit it big in America, like most of the NWOBHM bands, but attained a large following in England. I feel this band is terribly underrated, and this album is one of the best albums of the early eighties. The title track is a true headbanger's anthem, which gives homage to the club beginnings of Saxon themselves. This is one of those headbanger's albums that will always live strong in the hearts of metalheads, even though they were not a commercial success.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 21, 2003
As a 41 year old metal afficionado who 'grew up with hard rock/metal', I finally picked this one up on CD, after wearing out the LP and tape. There are some truly great structured metal tunes on 'Denim and Leather', the title track being utterly classic and killer! In fact, I would have bought the CD just on the strength of this one 'fist-pumping' song alone! 'Denim and Leather' has to be in everyone's Top 20 list of all time great classic metal! It's that good.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2003
Saxon in my opinion were one of the most underrated metal bands in history and they couldn't break into the big league like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Def Leppard did, vocalist Biff Byford has a unique voice and Paul Quinn and Graham Oliver are in the same competition as Dave Murray and Adrian Smith of Iron Maiden or K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton of Judas Priest.
Princess of the Night
One of Saxon's best songs and too band that it couldn't be on Collection of Metal. 5/5
Never Surrender
Amazing song even though it's only 3:13. 5/5
Out of Control
Not as strong as the first two but a good song nevertheless.
Rough and Ready
A little better than the previous song but not quite a classic.
Play it Loud
Great song, and if the people around you think it's too loud, don't listen to them. 5/5
And the Bands Played On
Saxon got this song from playing the Monsters of Rock tour in England, another classic. 5/5
Midnight Rider
A biker anthem and again another Saxon classic. 5/5
Fire in the Sky
A decent song, but not Saxon's best. 4/5
Denim and Leather
Now they saved the best for last, the title track is such a killer tune, it should've been a metal anthem like Quiet Riot's Cum on Feel the Noize or Ratt's Round and Round, as a matter of fact, this album is worth it for the title track alone, I'd give this song a 11 if I can. 5/5
If you're a classic metal fan, you must get this album but beware, it's very hard to find and it shouldn't be, this album needs more recognition than what it gets.
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