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Saxon - Crusader (Reissue)

Crusader (Reissue)
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 09 June 2018, 9:32 PM

What can really change in a year’s time? In particular, while discussing a band that has been pretty much constant in its musical direction. Everything can happen, and history validated it more than once. The support period of “Power & The Glory” was done, supposedly while touring the next in line was written and composed and it didn’t take long for the English chaps to nail it down in the studio. “Crusader” was originally issued in 1984, the band’s last album with Carrere Records before joining the big league. The emergence of “Crusader” showed SAXON in a slightly different light than the their not so far past, nonetheless, at least they didn’t overly challenge themselves with what they were trying to achieve.

Last of this reissue pack of BMG Music, “Crusader” was neatly packaged into a high quality book alike Digipack, identical to the previous albums. Photos, posters, single artworks are included within the booklet in a very high quality, a perfect reminder of the era of the release. Aside from the original album, which saw remastering, additional rarities were joined. Similar to the extras of “Power & The Glory”, additional Kaley Studio demos took an integral part, consisting of tracks that weren’t chosen to take part of the official release. Lastly, a demo single track from yet another session, also of a track that was in the original plan to make it to the final list. I must say that the quality of the Kaley Studio demos is extraordinary, at times even sounded better than the album’s production values. Unquestionably, these bonus tracks are jewels for collectors.

While “Power & The Glory” pictured a heavier version of SAXON, slowly leaving the merits of NWOBHM, incorporating what is soon to be called Traditional Metal, “Crusader” maneuvered in a direction that stirred a bit off. It was a start of something that would later be revealed but not on this album though. Less heavy, less bombastic, whether songwise and production wise, nurturing elements of Hard Rock, Boogie Rock and AOR, on the other hand, still maintaining a Heavy Metal edge. Though I must say that the album’s intro and self-titled track are more or less a continuance of the previous album, yet what comes afterwards is bound to tell a another story. By no means it is to be regarded as a minus, but it was hard for me to shake that SAXON were on the edge on “Power & The Glory” and it appeared that they backed down a bit, less capitalized on their early rising to power while deciding to lower the tone. Surely “Crusader” has its glamorous harmonious moments while also sending out blows, it is catchy, rocking the house and easy to sing along to.

“Run For Your Lives” as it progresses, one would say that it fits to be played in a soccer match, especially with the singalong that would easily be noticed. One of SAXON’s catchiest tunes in that period, flaming lead guitar working and harmonic vocal demonstration. The album’s strongest chip. “Do It All For You” is where SAXON turned AOR, became emotive and mellow. It is not about the guts to write a song that is off a regular signature, it is merely looking around, taking a chance and in the end it was worth it. The overall production of the song is impressive, specifically the backing vocals on the chorus, making it majestic. The expected lead guitar punch did its magic like in any power ballads of the decade, but that was pretty obvious, it is a must. “Helter Skelter” shared the similar fate as “Make Em Rock” did on the previous album, it shamefully didn’t enter the official album tracklist. Really I have no idea why. This tune could have upscaled the efforts of the album, NWOBHM at its finest moment, catchy main riff that is explosive, trailing intense soloing, energetic rhythm section and one hell of a vocal performance. “Rock City”, an impressive Hard Rock meets melodic Heavy Metal title, a vibrant tune in the spirit of the early 80s and what would be SAXON’s prime direction coming across the middle part of the 80s. Quite of a driving force in this album. Finally, there is “Crusader”, an epic, a historical bloody period that was awarded with the lawful music to accompany its deeds and antics. No less than an anthem, I had mixed feelings the first time I listened to it, mainly due to the reason that I expected SAXON to fire off the release with a blaze after such an intro. Eventually, it proved itself right, a rather dramatic tune, Byford showing his storytelling abilities through his profound singing. Others tracks worth mentioning, for your attention: “Sailing To America”, “Set Me Free” (Sweet Cover)

“Crusader” sums up this current run of SAXON reissues, until the next ones later in the year. Although its magnitude, at least for yours truly, was less than its previous contenders, it still does justice for the SAXON legacy and it is prerogative to be listened to.

Purchase Link: BMG Music

4 Star Rating

1. The Crusader Prelude
2. Crusader
3. A Little Bit Of What You Fancy
4. Sailing To America
5. Set Me Free (Sweet Cover)
6. Just Let Me Rock
7. Bad Boys (Life To Rock N'Roll)
8. Do It All For You
9. Rock City
10. Run For Your Lives
11. Borderline (Demo 1983)
12. Helter Skelter (Demo 1983)
13. Crusader (Demo 1983)
14. Do It All For You (Demo 1983)
15. A Little Bit Of What You Fancy (Demo 1983)
16. Sailing To America (Demo 1983)
17. Just Let Me Rock (Demo 1983)
18. Do It All For You (Intro) / Run For Your Lives (Demo 1983)
19. Living For The Weekend (Demo Session)
Biff Byford - Lead Vocals
Paul Quinn - Guitars
Graham Oliver - Guitars
Steve Dawson - Bass
Nigel Glocker - Drums
Record Label: BMG Music


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