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Saxon - Innocence Is No Excuse (Reissue)

Innocence Is No Excuse (Reissue)
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 05 August 2018, 10:46 PM

The reissue spree continues, and after a short, but felt like forever, wait, BMG Music delivers the final batch of 80s era SAXON albums. This majestic batch, following the vein of the previous trios, comprising of the three albums, starting with “Innocence Is No Excuse”. Now let's dive in.

Similar to most of the 80s Rock and Metal bands, a lot could had been done in a period of a year, or less you might say. The British machine kept rolling, oiled and ready for everything in its path. So it was 1985, mid 80s, NWOBHM was considered as a post era and different other voices began tingling within the heavy music horizon. SAXON was on a course of a change and possibly the early bird of the upcoming era of the band was with the next album in line, “Innocence Is No Excuse”. Newly signed to EMI Music, everything screamed that something different is about to take place musically in SAXON. Maybe it was a label’s request, treading carefully with “demand”, that a marketable strategy was in order material wise, or maybe just a shrapnel of what has been going on in the lighter end of Metal music.

Needless to say that SAXON didn’t really sound like “Denim And Leather” or “Wheels Of Steel”. “Innocence Is No Excuse” captures a relatively softer SAXON, less hard as iron but rather more encrusting with soothing, velvet, touch. Turning their gaze towards into a melodic directed Hard Rock that was in favor of their past antics of NWOBHM, SAXON portrayed their material as catchier, grasping with their songwriting, ear pleasantry, almost on the course of establishing a foundation of AOR for themselves.

I know what you might think, the band lost its way down the road, surrendered probably to the industry. Nevertheless, guys, you won’t read a bad comment about that from me no matter what. SAXON certainly didn’t make a fool out of themselves or took their past achievements for granted, in fact on the contrary. SAXON were able to compose the crunchy riffs that crowned them glory, maintained the same measure of overall sense that kept them over the edge in the early 80s, and virtually with their new attained elements, were also able to institute a front of magnificent hits that are a part of their legacy. Furthermore, attributed with a much better sound production, everything sounded clearer, not as polished as you might wonder, enabling every listener to take pleasure of the abilities of this group and its outcomes.

Entering into the corridors of the tracklist, though a fan of NWOBHM period, I could easily found myself repeating several tunes within this release. “Rock N’ Roll Gypsy”, one of the original album’s leading singles, continues SAXON’s exploration of the atmospheric side of the melodic Hard Rock, only to stumble upon one of their mega hits. Sure it might raise recollections of past efforts, however, the songwriting style of a perfected AC/DC joined by mid 80s antics, is certain to cover any doubt of this song’s rate level. Of course lest I forget the solo section that is a picture of might, I had to mention that. “Broken Heroes”, I was left speechless after listening to this tune for the first time, and just like magic, it enchanted me time and time again. A memorial song for the fallen, exceptionally emotive, might even shed a tear depending on the moment. An exemplary mixture of the band’s current Hard Rock flanking AOR, enticing vocal harmonies uplifting the drama and a catchy riffs and melodic licks that would take you miles and miles away.

“Devil Rides Out” is a kind of an American in its vibe, might even produce examples of early DOKKEN but for some reason I always came back to DEF LEPPARD. The funny thing is that both bands have been dashing side by side in the same Metal scene. SAXON, as if were playing safe, delivered a crispy hit of Hard Rock but a headbanger for the youthful Metalheads running around. “Krakatoa” is undoubtedly one of this reissue’s best of songs. I was so glad that this B-side, originally from the “Rock N’ Roll Gypsy” single, made it to this album. Another reminder of SAXON’s ability to recreate the glory days of “Power And The Glory” and its earlier comrades. Folks this is NWOBHM in its energetic guns blazing mania, right there at your disposal. “Rockin’ Again”, opening the album gracefully, displays a blasting Hard Rock meets Heavy Metal anthem, such an addictive riff in the chorus, exploding with the grandeur of the genre. NWOBHM is still in there in the SAXON ranks, yet tagged along by various of Popish features that began defining the Hard Rock spectrum in the mid-80s.

Back to the booklet. In the manner of the previous reissue runs, the special digipack unravels high quality photos, some of them could be rendered as rare, along with the songs’ lyrics. Yes, there is no written word or an interview, but like the earlier reissues, I let the music do the talking. Furthermore, material wise, there is a distinct chance to listen to the band’s intakes of several of the album’s songs with studio demos, showing changes that found their way into the official tracklist. Quite interesting I might add.

“Innocence Is No Excuse” made a pretty obvious hint that things were rattling in the SAXON camp. Other than the music going into a slightly different direction, it was also the final moments of the band’s bass player Steve Dawson that left the band. A year later came out “Rock The Nations” and the rest… next review.

Purchase Link: BMG Music

4 Star Rating

1. Rockin’ Again
2. Call Of The Wild
3. Back On The Streets
4. Devil Rides Out
5. Rock N’Roll Gipsy
6. Broken Heroes
7. Gonna Shout
8. Everybody Up
9. Raise Some Hell
10. Give It Everything You’ve Got
11. Live Fast, Die Young (B-side of “Back On The Streets”)
12. Krakatoa (B-side of “Rock N’ Roll Gipsy”)
13. Broken Heroes (Chapel Studio demo)
14. Devil Rides Out (Chapel Studio demo)
15. Rock N’Roll Gipsy (Chapel Studio demo)
16. Rockin’ Again (Chapel Studio demo)
17. Gonna Shout (Chapel Studio demo)
Biff Byford - Lead Vocals
Paul Quinn - Guitars
Graham Oliver - Guitars
Steve Dawson - Bass
Nigel Glocker - Drums
Record Label: BMG Music


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