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Get Down and Dirty: Three Albums From Metal Heroes Saxon Arrive From Edsel

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Saxon - Solid Ball of RockAre you ready for a Solid Ball of Rock?

Edsel Records has recently reissued the first three albums with which British heavy metal pioneers Saxon greeted the 1990s.  Solid Ball of Rock (1991), Forever Free (1992) and Dogs of War (1995), all originally released on Germany’s Virgin label, have each been expanded with two bonus tracks for these new editions.

Considered part of the same New Wave of British Heavy Metal that also included Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, Saxon made its debut in 1979 with a self-titled album on the French Carrere label featuring the line-up of Biff Byford (vocals), Graham Oliver (guitar), Paul Quinn (guitar), Steve Dawson (bass) and Pete Gill (drums).  Byford, Quinn and Oliver would remain with the band through the period covered by these Edsel reissues; Gill left the band in 1981 while Dawson departed in 1986.  (Byford and Quinn still remain with Saxon today.)  The band’s sophomore effort, 1980’s Wheels of Steel, is generally considered Saxon’s breakthrough, with single “747 (Strangers in the Night)” helping to catapult the album to No. 5 status in the United Kingdom.  In 1980, Saxon made its first well-received appearance at the Monsters of Rock Festival, and also first appeared on Top of the Pops performing the album’s title track.  1983’s Power and the Glory would become the group’s biggest selling LP, and in 1984, Saxon signed with EMI.  1985’s Innocence is No Excuse was viewed by some fans as a blatant attempt to smooth out the band’s sound for commercial success, but it, too, placed in the U.K. Top 40 (and No. 136 on the U.S. chart).  As the 1980s ceded to the 1990s, Saxon was dropped by EMI, but Virgin Germany picked the group up in 1990 for Solid Ball of Rock.

By 1991, Saxon consisted of Byford, Oliver and Quinn plus Nibbs Carter (bass) and Nigel Glockler (drums).  Carter joined the band in 1988, and though he was the new kid on the block, he contributed five songs to Solid Ball of Rock in addition to co-writing three others.  The same line-up stayed put for follow-up Forever Free in 1992, which included a cover version of Willie Dixon’s “Just Wanna Make Love to You” among the band original compositions.  Whereas Rock was recorded in Hamburg, Saxon cut Free in both England and Austria.  1995’s Dogs of War, also recorded in England, turned out to be the band’s final album with guitarist Graham Oliver.  It was also Saxon’s final album for Virgin.  Following Oliver’s acrimonious departure, Doug Scarratt replaced him, and the new line-up was on its feet for 1997’s Unleash the Beast on the CMC International label.  Saxon has just released its brand-new album Sacrifice via EMI, and is currently on tour in the U.K. and Europe through June.  Sacrifice features this same roster of Byford, Quinn, Carter, Glockler and Scarratt.

After the jump: what’s on Edsel’s new reissues?  Plus: track listings and order links!

Saxon - Forever FreeAll three reissues feature new liner notes by Joe Geesin (Record Collector) based on a 2013 interview with Biff Byford.  Solid Ball of Rock includes, as bonus tracks, the single version of “Requiem (We Will Remember)” as well as “Reeperbahn Stomp.”  Both appeared on Steamhammer Records’ 2002 reissue.  Forever Free appends live versions of “Princess of the Night” and “Forever Free” as previously included on Steamhammer’s 2002 reissue, while Dogs of War includes live takes of “The Great White Buffalo” and “Denim and Leather.”  The 2006 reissue of Dogs on the SPV label also included these same two bonus tracks.

Edsel’s Saxon reissues are available now and can be ordered at the links below!

Saxon, Solid Ball of Rock (Virgin 7 87490 2, 1990 – reissued Edsel EDSA 5017, 2013)

  1. Solid Ball of Rock
  2. Altar of the Gods
  3. Requiem (We Will Remember)
  4. Lights in the Sky
  5. I Just Can’t Get Enough
  6. Baptism of Fire
  7. Ain’t Gonna Take It
  8. I’m on Fire
  9. Overture in B-Minor/Refugee
  10. Bavarian Beaver
  11. Crash Dive
  12. Requiem (We Will Remember) (Single Version) (Bonus Track)
  13. Reeperbahn Stomp (Bonus Track)

Tracks 12-13 from Virgin single 614 023, 1990, also included on Steamhammer CD 74082, 2002

Saxon, Forever Free (Virgin 263 098, 1992 – reissued Edsel EDSA 5018, 2013)

  1. Forever Free
  2. Hole in the Sky
  3. Just Wanna Make Love to You
  4. Get Down and Dirty
  5. Iron Wheels
  6. One Step Away
  7. Can’t Stop Rockin’
  8. Nighthunter
  9. Grind
  10. Cloud Nine
  11. Princess of the Night (Live) (Bonus Track)
  12. Forever Free (Live) (Bonus Track)

Tracks 11-12 also included on Steamhammer CD 74092, 2002

Saxon, Dogs of War (Virgin 7243 839983 2 6, 1995 – reissued Edsel EDSA 5019, 2013)

  1. Dogs of War
  2. Burning Wheels
  3. Don’t Worry
  4. Big Twin Rolling (Coming Home)
  5. Hold On
  6. The Great White Buffalo
  7. Demolition Alley
  8. Walking Through Tokyo
  9. Give It All Away
  10. Yesterday’s Gone
  11. The Great White Buffalo (Live) (Bonus Track)
  12. Denim and Leather (Live) (Bonus Track)

Tracks 11-12 also included on SPV CD 74112, 2006

Written by Joe Marchese

April 17, 2013 at 12:12

Posted in News, Reissues, Saxon

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