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  • Saxon
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4.1 out of 5 stars
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Saxon may be one of the best known bands that emerged during the celebrated New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) era, but before their genre defining albums Wheels of Steel,Strong Arm of the Law and Denim & Leather, the band issued this often-overlooked 1979 debut album.

Prior to this album's release, Saxon was operating under the unlikely moniker Son of a B!tch. The band was more or less a merger of SOB, which featured Graham Oliver, Steve Dawson and Pete Gill, and Coast, which included Biff Byford and Paul Quinn. Coast was a heavy prog rock band and SOB was a heavy blues rock act. It made for an interesting combination, to say the least. The Saxon debut sounds a bit like a pairing of Kansas and AC/DC. It's a heavy album and rocks pretty hard, but there's a bluesy, boogieing vibe as well. Wheels of Steel this ain't, though you can hear the future Saxon sound peeking out in the melody and speed of songs like "Stallions of the Highway" and the NWOBHM prototype "Militia Guard".

The Saxon on this debut recording may bear little resemblance to the Saxon that would totally redefine the British metal scene just one year later, but this is still an album that's absolutely worth owning. It's a great look at the formative stages of one of Britain's most important metal bands, and is a pretty rockin' album at that.

Edition Notes - EMI reissued the Saxon debut (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 features expanded liner notes by Metal Hammer Magazine's Jerry Ewing and a whopping 14 bonus tracks, more than doubling the original album's length. The first five bonus tracks are the original 1978 Son of a B!tch demos. After that come five BBC session recordings. The live b-side of "Judgement Day" from the Suzie Hold On single comes next, followed by three live songs recorded at Donnington in 1980. Between the remastered sound, liner notes and sheer volume of bonus tracks, there are plenty of reasons to replace your old version of Saxon.

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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on February 1, 2006
"Where were you in '79 when the dam began to burst?"

In America, you were probably clutching your Aerosmith, Van Halen, Ted Nugent, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple albums and playing them at full blast to ward of the aural nausea of the Village People, Bee Gees, et al.

In the UK, you were experiencing the first ripples of what would become, in my opinion, the most energetic revitalisation of rock music, never equalled before or since:


There were exciting new bands taking their place alongside classic metal warriors like Judas Priest, the revitalised Black Sabbath, Motorhead, Whitesnake (pre-hair metal days) and UFO.

Among them were Iron Maiden, Def Leppard (yes, they were once a metal band!) and...SAXON.

This is an example of a new, young band at the forefront of a new, exciting musical genre. They haven't quite found their feet here and in a lot of ways still sound like the band gigging around pubs in their native northern England. Some of the tracks, like "Big Teaser" and "Still Fit To Boogie" are forgettable. However, others, like "Backs To The Wall", "Stallions Of The Highway" and "Militia Guard" give hints of the band that would soon release seminal slabs of British metal like "Wheels Of Steel" and "Strong Arm Of The Law".

The album isn't perfect, but I find it worlds better than their lame attempts to "crack America" in the '80s and '90s with dreck like "Crusader" and "Destiny" (I still cringe at their cover of Christopher Cross' "Ride Like The Wind"), though they returned to form after that.

Of course, they never went beyond a cult following in America, but if you listen to this disc you'll see the beginnings of a band who went on to stardom nearly everywhere else in the world and were on the bill at the first Castle Donington festival.
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on July 8, 2003
Saxon kept it going for 4 albums - and a killer live album (The Eagle has landed). They had a unique sound all their own, and spent much of the early years supporting "bigger" bands like Maiden and Motorhead.
But they sounded nothing like either band. Many so-called metal bands would appropriate portions of Saxon's style, and listeners could be forgiven for thinking that Saxon stole from them - when the reverse is true.
Anyway, although the music still kicks a**, the "vibe" that Saxon put out could not be matched by any other band at that time. Slade may have sang "We'll Bring The House Down", but Saxon did it.
A truly great debut album - but a better starting place to get into what Saxon were about would be any of the next 3 - Wheels of Steel, Strong Arm of the Law and Denim and Leather. Don't pass the stunning live album by either.
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on March 3, 2015
As far as debut albums go, one could do a lot worse. This is often the case with many artists, and this one is no exception. Still struggling with their identity, this finds Saxon still working on their own bridging of Sabbath and Z.Z. Top to forge their own sound. Still, "Stallions of the Highway" and "Backs To The Wall" show signs of the promise that would ultimately be fulfilled with the next three albums while the rest of the record seems a bit un-focused. That aside, if you're a Saxon fan then you should get this. Trust me. It's still a good time to be had, but the times soon to come would be a whole lot better.
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VINE VOICEon January 3, 2005
Originally released in 1979 as this was Saxon's very first album. Should keep in mind that any new Saxon fans should get their later CD reissues FIRST, then later get a copy of this debut of theirs. Not sure if the problem is in the production or the final mix of this album. Either way their self-titled first lp clearly shows you what the band was like, before they got good. No, make that great. Their follow-up to this CD, 1980's 'The Strong Arm Of The Law' indicates what the group that was active during the 'New Wave Of British Heavy Metal' (aka NWOBHM) era is totally capable of. That was only the beginning of many great Saxon recorded works to come. In my opinion, to this very day, they're STILL able to pen out good songs. As for the CD here, the only two cuts I thought were that good were "Frozen Rainbow" and "Backs To The Wall". The line up: Biff Byford - vocals, Graham Oliver & Paul Quinn - guitars, Steve Dawson - bass and Pete Gill - drums. Not really a bad lp, it just could have been better.
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on January 2, 2009
This is Saxon's inncredible debut from 1979, and in my opinion, their strongest album to date. Believe me, this is saying a lot about a band that would go on to produce so much more fantastic music. Everything on this album just comes together perfectly and beautifully.

Everything to love about heavy metal is here: the mystery and fantasy ("Rainbow Theme," "Frozen Rainbow"), the rock 'n' roll anthem ("Still Fit to Boogie"), and more. Much more.

The musicianship and the compositions on this album are simply fantastic. Pounding drums by Pete Gill,and some of the coolest, most complimentary bass lines I've ever heard from Steve Dawson. Then you've got the crisp, crunchy guitar riffs and screaming, wailing guitar solos of Graham Oliver and Paul Quinn. These guys don't play anything outrageously flashy, but their playing is so amazingly tasteful that in this case, less is more. Completing the sound is Biff Byford's passionate, clean vocals. A great frontman with true spirit.

Something really awsome in this music is the vocal harmonies, especially in a songs like "Big Teaser," and "Militia Guard." Most of these songs really rock hard and do it most excellently, but there are also some beautiful, mellow moments on this album. "Rainbow Theme" and "Frozen Rainbow" are mesmerizing and mystical, and there is a truly gentle, soothing stretch in the middle of the epic "Judgement Day."

Some bands take a while to find their sound, but this was not the case with Saxon. Believe me, they had their sound with this debut, and what a unique, flamboyant, powerful sound they had.
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on November 24, 2003
I think this album is a great album (especially if your on a motorway). Its a good album, but i think its one of those albums you have to listen the whole way through to get the best of it. But No doubt, i would recommend it for your first Saxon album.
1. Rainbow Theme - A good little intro to start of with. A nice little part instrumental part singing type song. 4/5
2. Frozen Rainbow - Continues with the Rainbow Theme. I personally like this slightly better than the Rainbow theme. 5/5
3. Big Teaser - A cool riff a cool rock song. 5/5
4. Judgement Day - Listen to all of this song and you will find it awesome. 5/5
5. Stallions Of The Highway - What can i say? A typical motorbike on the highway/motorway type song. Saxon are very good at songs like that. 5/5
6. Backs To The Wall - Have to say, my least favourite song on the album. A good rock riff and beat but you get sick of the same old sh**. But its not bad if you only listen to it occasionally. 3/5
7. Still Fit To Boogie - 6 simple words. A Good Rock N' Roll Song! 5/5
8. Militia Guard - At first i thought this song sounded dodgey and not in tune. But then i listened to it all and it sounded great. The Drum Roll thingy at the start is pretty cool. A good solo to. 5/5
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on April 26, 2002
28 minutes and 51 seconds of totally enjoyable hard rock / heavy metal. This is the debut by SAXON. Simple as that. A killer album, lacking production, but very good.
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on September 15, 2002
Saxon's debut album. Great riffs and solos on this album,
we can not talk about the best produced album but the songs
included are classics such as the beautiful "Frozen rainbow",
"Still fit to boogie" and "Backs to the wall". This first
album represented just a little taste of what's going to
come in the future,but it deserves attention and it's relly
worth listening to.
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on July 21, 2000
Well the band definetly matured into the shape that they took when releasing Denim and leather but this gem is a classic Saxon and a tremendous metal album. Sounding almost like zepplin meets rainbow this album is sure to please any fan who likes them from the 80's. Worth the bucks.
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