SAXON Reissue First Three Albums - Review.

On 30 March Saxon reissue their first 3 albums - Saxon, Wheels of Steel and Strong Arm of the Law in two formats: Vinyl - Coloured splatter/Swirl Vinyl and CD versions which will be issued with 24 page media books containing original lyrics, rare photos and memorabilia.

Saxon –Saxon – Originally released in May 1979. Though this album doesn’t contain any of the stand out songs that made the band famous, it does still contain some good songs which helped to pave the way for future success. Most notably Stallions of the Highway, Backs to the Wall and Frozen Rainbow, which occasionally still make the live set nearly forty years later. This reissued version contains 14 bonus tracks on top of the eight original songs. This includes demo versions from the Son of a Bitch days of five songs Big Teaser, Stallions of the Highway, Backs to the Wall, Rainbow Theme and Frozen Rainbow. I’ve not come across these before and they made quite interesting listening. There are five songs from a BBC session recorded 15 February 1980, a live version from 1979 of Judgment Day which was originally released as the B side to Suzie Hold On and three songs from the inaugural Monsters of Rock festival in August 1980 including a great version of Backs to the Wall. All of these have been released on various CDs before.

1. Rainbow Theme

2. Frozen Rainbow

3. Big Teaser

4. Judgement Day

5. Stallions Of The Highway

6. Backs To The Wall

7. Still Fit To Boogie

8. Militia Guard

CD Bonus Tracks

9. Big Teaser (demo 1978)

10. Stallions Of The Highway (demo 1978)

11. Backs To The Wall (demo 1978)

12. Rainbow Theme (demo 1978)

13. Frozen Rainbow (demo 1978)

14. Backs To The Wall (BBC session 1980)

15. Stallions Of The Highway (BBC session 1980)

16. Motorcycle Man (BBC session 1980)

17. Still Fit To Boogie (BBC session 1980)

18. 747 (Strangers In The Night) (BBC session 1980)

19. Judgement Day (Live B side 1979)

20. Still Fit To Boogie (Live at Donington 1980)

21. Backs To The Wall (Live at Donington 1980)

22. Stallions Of The Highway (Live at Donington 1980)

Saxon – Wheels of Steel – Originally released in May 1980. This was the album the propelled Saxon to stardom with two top 40 singles 747 (Strangers in the Night) and Wheels of Steel. The album also contains staple live favourite Motorcycle Man. Throw in some other great songs like Stand Up and be Counted, See the Light Shining, Machine Gun and Suzie Hold On and you can see what a great Heavy metal album you have here. This reissued version contains five songs from the Monsters of Rock festival in August 1980 and a live version of Stallions of the Highway which was originally issued as a B side, these have been previously issued on CD. What I hadn’t heard before were demo versions of two songs, Suzie Hold On and Wheels of Steel, and these make a welcome addition.

1. Motorcycle Man

2. Stand Up And Be Counted

3. 747 (Strangers In The Night)

4. Wheels Of Steel

5. Freeway Mad

6. See The Light Coming

7. Street Fighting Gang

8. Suzie Hold On

9. Machine Gun

CD Bonus Tracks

10. Suzie Hold On (1980 demo rehearsals)

11. Wheels Of Steel (1980 demo rehearsals)

12. Stallions Of The Highway (Live B-side)

13. Motorcycle Man (Live at Donington 1980)

14. Freeway Mad (Live at Donington 1980)

15. Wheels Of Steel (Live at Donington 1980)

16. 747 (Strangers In The Night) (Live at Donington 1980)

17. Machine Gun (Live at Donington 1980)

Saxon – Strong Arm of the Law – Originally released in September 1980. This for me was the best release of the three. Every song with the exception of Sixth Form Girls is a heavy rock classic. Songs like Heavy Metal Thunder, Strong Arm of the Law, and Dallas 1pm made the live set on the recent Thunderbolt tour, but don’t overlook To Hell and Back Again, 20,000 Feet, Hungry Years and the wonderful Taking Your Chances. This reissue contains four songs, from a BBC session recorded on 25 April 1982. Three of the songs 20,000 Feet, Dallas 1pm and an early version of The Eagle Has Landed were previously available on CD through the BBC archive series. The fourth track 747 (Strangers in the Night) I had not heard before. The CD concludes with four versions of tracks, which again, I had not come across, three form the 2008 Abbey Road Mix 20,000 Feet, Heavy Metal Thunder, Hungry Years and Mandy which is an early version of Sixth Form Girls with alternative lyrics.

1. Heavy Metal Thunder

2. To Hell And Back Again

3. Strong Arm Of The Law

4. Taking Your Chances

5. 20,000 FT

6. Hungry Years

7. Sixth Form Girls

8. Dallas 1PM

CD Bonus Tracks

9. 20,000 FT (BBC session 1982)

10. Dallas 1PM (BBC session 1982)

11. The Eagle Had Landed (BBC session 1982)

12. 747 (Strangers In The Night) (BBC session 1982)

13. To Hell And Back Again (Abbey Road mix)

14. 20,000FT (Abbey Road mix)

15. Mandy (Early version of Sixth Form Girls)

16. Heavy Metal Thunder (Abbey Road mix)

So which to buy? Well if money is no barrier buy all three, if you’re a bit strapped for cash personally I’d go for Strong Arm of the Law and follow that up with Wheels of Steel when you’ve saved a bit more cash.

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