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Saxon - Inspirations Award winner

Saxon
Inspirations
by Mike McMahan at 23 March 2021, 10:56 AM

SAXON. All you have to do is say the name, and fans of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal's ears will perk up. Mine do. The band has earned it the hard way. They have been consistently active in the scene since 1979, recording numerous studio albums since then, and laying down several live releases, as well. Their live shows absolutely shine, and the “The Eagle Has Landed” series of releases bears testament to that fact. These guys are legendary.

It was of particular interest to me to hear that they were releasing an album’s worth of cover material this year. After all, who influences the influencer? In this case, on a release simply titled “Inspirations”, we find a treasure trove of artists, some anticipated, like AC/DC and BLACK SABBATH; some…not so much, such as THE KINKS and TOTO. There are some really interesting covers to speak of on this album, overall, with some very ballsy picks among them. Some are incredible in their delivery…one, not as much.

In a case like this, it will be easier to go on a track-by-track basis, so I’ll simply start at the front and travel through, touching on each along the way. THE ROLLING STONES staple “Paint It Black” opens the festivities here, with a nicely distorted guitar replacing the original pseudo-sitar like STONES’ intro. The song lends itself nicely to the genre, with its dark imagery and hard driving chorus, but not as much to SAXON’S particular style. Overall, this one left me a bit flat, particularly for an opener.

LED ZEPPLIN’S “Immigrant Song” follows, and quickly made me forget any disappointment with the opener. The song’s bombastic nature is perfectly replicated here, and Byford’s vocal is entirely up to the task. “Paperback Writer” has always been one of my favorites from THE BEATLES, and it is given new life here. The musical delivery from the band is fantastic, with a harder driving tempo; and the harmony vocals really put it over the top for me. BLACK SABBATH’S own cover of the band CROW’S “Evil Woman”, from their debut release, follows. As expected, SAXON’S cover is simply fantastic. Tasteful and respectful to the source material. Very well picked selection. The same can be said for Jimi Hendrix’ “Stone Free”. The guitar work on this track sparkles; although Byford’s vocal work on the tune is a bit hard to take, after a bit.

“Bomber”… MOTORHEAD. Yes. Simply YES. There are a lot of DEEP PURPLE tracks I might have personally chosen over “Speed King”, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with this version. Again, the guitar work shines, and Biff’s vocal just absolutely kicks ass. The entire band is on point here, and kudos to them for it. This is not an easy cover. THIN LIZZY’S “The Rocker”… Again, simply yes. It’s always great to see some love thrown to Phil Lynott. This is a great cover.

The most surprising track on this release was TOTO’S “Hold The Line”, and I am very happy to see it included. Again, not the easiest cover in the world for anyone, but this one is done very well. Is that Paul Quinn tearing up a Steve Lukather solo? Wow. AC/DC’S “Problem Child” and THE KINKS’ “See My Friends” close the album out well. Both songs are done very respectively, and with great musicianship and feel.

All in all, this is a great record. With the exception of “PAINT IT BLACK” (which is not BAD, by any stretch of the imagination), every other cut here is solid. This is a covers record worth hearing, and it’s very cool to see where the origins of one of Heavy Metal’s finest lay.

Well played, guys. Well played, indeed.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Paint It Black
2 .Immigrant Song
3. Paperback Writer
4. Evil Woman
5. Stone Free
6 .Bomber
7. Speed King
8. The Rocker
9. Hold The Line
10. Problem Child
11. See My Friends
Lineup:
Biff Byford – Vocals
Paul Quinn – Guitars
Nibs Carter – Bass
Doug Scarrett – Guitars
Nigel Glockler – Drums
Record Label: Silver Lining Music Ltd.
     


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Edited 14 May 2021
 

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