The Eagle Has Landed Vol. 3
posted on 6/2006 By:
What can you say about a band like Saxon, critically? Especially in reference to a live album? What are the odds a band that has been in business for nearly three decades is going to fuck up a live record of some of their coolest shit? Their third fucking live record? I have seen these guys in a little sidehall and in a big arena, I have seen them at their denim and leather best and at their foofoo hair metal worst. Their worst kicked everyone else on the ticket’s ass. And their best? The first time I saw them they opened up for Maiden in ‘83 along with a then still cool Fastway, and they came closer than anyone else at the time to giving the Irons a run for their fucking money. I was working at a youth program that had me raking rocks, rolling boulders and making railroad tie fences in the delightfully warm Utah summer that year, making minimum wage and paying most of it to my mom to help out, but at the end of that summer I had stashed enough to buy Denim and Leather, Strong Arm of the Law, Wheels of Steel and Power and the Glory, mainly based on that ass kicking they delivered two months earlier.
And by all that drinks and is drunk, twenty three years later those old songs sound just as fucking perfect for a night’s guzzling, gambling and general carousing. Christ, with all the modern metal that abounds I almost forget how great old school hard rock/heavy metal can be when the fucking gloves are off. I love the new bands and styles…most of them…but every year or so I have to break out the Fire Down Unders and Strangers in the Nights. AC/DC, UFO, Riot, Pat Travers...Bands that were metal kind of by accident, but happily so. You could call them hard rock and I don’t think anyone would care. It’s just a matter of degrees. And Saxon is one of those bands that owns their own spot on that list.
So, Saxon releases their third live record, and I am old, which means they are really old. And while time has beaten it’s heavy tattoo on their abilities, their spirit is EXACTLY as it was in ‘83. And given that the band plays a sort of timeless kind of hard rock, the effects of age are more than offset by the sheer balls of the band. Byford is not a great singer in any sense, and he never was, but he has a sense of immediacy and heart that infects a listener. He is at his best when bantering and hollering like a lager headed football fan. It’s his nature. When he tries to get overly singsongy, the effects of age tell more heavily.
The rest of the band, particularly drummer Glockner, are as tight-and loose-as ever. This is a band that treats every song they do like the end of the fucking universe is just around the corner, so this is fucking it. Last one. Ever. Guitaists Quinn and Scarret, still not possessing the kind of guitar sound I craved then as now, nevertheless deliver the shit straight and hard. The riffs, old and new still catch me off guard as the two race around each other. Nibbs Carter’s bass nails the it all to the hull, and the band sails through the numbers like the veterans they are.
Taken form various stops on their European, form Kiel to Paris to Wacken, the whole collection is just the thing for an old fucking asshole like me to relive the Power and the Glory. The setlist covers their career fairly well, although how there can not be a “Princess of the Night” is fucking beyond me. But I am biased. There is, however, “Wheels of Steel“, which will get you anywhere you need to go. And “Redline“, for fuck’s sake! It’s also a little ironic that one of the true “heavy metal” songs on this collection is “This Town Rocks”. It’s a good demonstration of how this band grew out of that gray area. Rock, Metal, whatever: Saxon does it like it should be. Always have.
The sound is generally fine, although some performances suffer a bit from venue to venue. A quibble. And like I said, I have never really liked the guitar sound they get, but somehow none of that matters when it comes to Saxon. It’s just too fucking trivial beside their pure love of the game.
And there is your bottom line. Saxon are bigger than criticism, bigger than technical bullshit, bigger than age, bigger than Jesus. Wanna know how to rock? Wanna know how to work a crowd? Wanna know how to transcend trends and niches? Here is your manual. My advice, as you set out to explore this two CD set, is grab some imported bitter, dark and warm, gather some old friends, get out the deck and chips, and put the player on auto replay. Then just drink, laugh, fight, gamble and drink again and let Saxon set the fucking tone. If you can manage not have a classic time then you don’t and never fucking will get it. But that’s your psychosis. Mine is people who don’t dig Saxon. Grab this set.
"Are their any Wham fans here tonight...?"
Register to post comments.
Into The Labyrinth
The Inner Sanctum
Dogs of War (Re-Release)