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Saxon - Denim And Leather (Reissue) Award winner

Denim And Leather (Reissue)
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 10 June 2018, 12:25 AM

Monster Of Rock Festival, 1980, the first edition of the Castle Donington event that took the interest of countless of fans. Headlining the bill were RAINBOW along with performances of JUDAS PRIEST, SCORPIONS, APRIL WINE, RIOT and there were SAXON. Inspired by their appearance in that special event, the band wrote the astounding hit “And The Bands Played On”. This outstanding song was released as a single in 1981, however, most Metal fans know as a part of the tracklist of SAXON’s fourth album, “Denim And Leather”, originally saw light via Carrere Records. I gather that this serves as a fine intro right before entering the belly of the beast, which is “Denim And Leather”, especially since the former mentioned song nailed me to the floor, driving me crazy since the first time I tasted it.

As a part of a major reissue spree via BMG Music, “Denim And Leather”, and its followers, received a special digipack edition, portrayed as a book of rare photos and posters the original feel of the album’s release along with the surrounding events that did the job to promote it. I expected linear notes to be honest, especially from Biff Byford, since only he and Paul Quinn, were the remaining founding members that were actually there at the time. Nonetheless, listening to the music while looking at the photos garnered a fine effect.

This is actually my first time reviewing a SAXON classic, so I won’t lie, it is a bit nerving, so please bear with me. SAXON’s style needs no deep discussion to be honest. One of the true pioneers of NWOBHM, from my point of view, the bread and butter of the movement. Without too much fuss or over the top technical songwriting, the chaps from Barnsley gathered an immense fan core that made them iconic giants in Metal music in overall. “Denim And Leather”, another totem to the band’s growing legacy at the period of time, proved how well the the basic formula of creating British Metal songs. SAXON found quite of an edge with the album, hitting the right spots nearly every passing song, enticing the ears, serving it British as it can be. Pouncing between melodies, generic song structures and common riffs swang between the late 70s and early 80s, eventually led SAXON’s musical charm to be spread like wildfire, influencing numerous of bands along the years, and even nowadays.

Jumping the fire, diving into the tracklist, it was easy for me to spot on the blasts from the past in flash. I already mentioned the songs earlier on in my opening, “And The Bands Played On”. Other than IRON MAIDEN and JUDAS PRIEST that developed their own style of British Metal, SAXON on the other hand, played their cards differently. The straightforward Hard Rock meets Heavy Metal attitude, flair of the live performance, the blazing eyes and the inspiring lyrics, made me a worshipper. An easy tune to connect to, and trust me, it will nail you.  The self-titled, “Denim And Leather”, is no less than an experience, the general gratitude of a band showing their appreciation to their fans, commemorating the pursuit of the music by all means possible. SAXON’s belief of the basics set the tone for the initiation of an anthem to be screamed live. Calling the charge with the “Princess Of The Night”, as the song states, it is music to my ears. Enslaving the soul of Rock N’ Roll at their feet, SAXON provided a solid idea of how to take on a 70s driven tune and Metalizing it up to become a powerful hit. “Never Surrender” main riff actually sounded similar to MAIDEN’s “Twilight Zone”, which was released along with “Killers” in that very year. However, the development of the song into a leathery fist, told an entirely different story, an ill-mannered, street toughness spirit that wreaked havoc. As if commanding through the speakers, “Play It Loud” screamed its message through the channels. One of the roughest SAXON anthems, somewhat AC/DC oriented with its Blue Collar Rock creed. No doubt an inspiring number that contributed to the foundation of this amazing record.

Taking part within this reissue, there are several fine treats to be noticed. “20,000Ft”, in its remix version, displays the old classic energy charge, originally part of the earlier “Strong Arm Of The Law” album, and the live version of “Bap Shoo Ap”, performed at Monsters Of Rock Festival with ferocious vigor. Both tunes appeared in the 1981 “Never Surrender” single, prior to the album’s release. Furthermore, a rather substantial overview of the support of the album through seven tracks of the album’s hits in a quality that is a certified pleasure.

“Denim And Leather” is a fortune for any collector or a Metalhead that respects him/herself. A must experience for whoever wishes to be embraced by the grandeur of British Metal.

Purchase Link: BMG Music

4 Star Rating

1. Princess Of The Night
2. Never Surrender
3. Out Of Control
4. Rough And Ready
5. Play It Loud
6. And The Bands Played On
7. Midnight Rider
8. Fire In The Sky
9. Denim And Leather
10. 20,000Ft (Remix)
11. Bap Shoo Ap (Live At Donington)
12. Intro / And The Bands Played On (Live At The Rainbow '81)
13. Princess Of The Night (Live At The Rainbow '81)
14. Midnight Rider (Live At Hammersmith '81)
15. Never Surrender (Live At Hammersmith '81)
16. Fire In The Sky (Live At Hammersmith '81)
17. Machine Gun (Live At Hammersmith '81)
18. Play It Loud (Live At Hammersmith '81)
Biff Byford - Lead Vocals
Paul Quinn - Guitars
Graham Oliver - Guitars
Steve Dawson - Bass
Pete Gill - Drums
Record Label: BMG Music


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Edited 19 September 2019

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