Since their inception in the late 1970’s, Saxon have gone from being one of the forerunners of the awkwardly titled New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) to become one of the standard bearers of rock, and whilst they’ve never achieved the iconic status of other NWOBHM bands like Maiden and Leppard, nonetheless they’ve become one of the most successful UK rock bands of all time, helping to define the way rock is played, releasing several classic albums and writing some of the best known ‘fists-in-the-air’ songs. Their mission from the outset was to bring ‘Heavy Metal Thunder’ to the world. Forty years on, despite a few line-up changes, they’re still out there doing it, and all the evidence you could ever want to hear is contained on this set; forty coruscating tracks covering four decades at the top of the pile, handpicked by Mr Biff Byford himself, surely in the premier league of rock frontmen.
This latest ‘live’ set, Eagle Has Landed 40 gathers together forty tracks spreads across gigs from around the globe. One of the truisms about Saxon is, no matter how patchy a few of their mid-period albums may have been, as a stage band they never let you down. You always knew, and still do, when you go to see a Saxon gig, they will rock you till you drop. This release, their eleventh such album, offers yet more proof of Saxon’s rep as a ‘live’ act.
There are stone-cold classics from all parts of their career.. 747 (strangers in the night), (with Phil Campbell), Dallas 1pm and Strong Arm Of The Law from their early days, right up to the thunderous Battering Ram and They Played Rock ‘n Roll, their 2018 tribute to the fallen Motorhead, with all manner of other classics in-between. Unlike other Saxon ‘live’ releases, this one includes the mighty ‘Denim and Leather’ from Wacken 2014, backed by a small chamber orchestra. The close bond between Saxon and Motorhead is suggested when they perform ‘Ace of Spades’, and they give it added gravitas by bringing on the now sadly departed ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke to play with them. Lemmy himself would have approved of this stellar version of his classic song.
Since Saxon began, entire musical movements and genres have come and gone, but Biff and his merry men are still out there, rocking venues to their foundations and giving their legions of fans exactly what they want to hear. Here’s to the next forty years.