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Saxon – Power & The Glory

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Last Updated on 10:37 by Giorgos Tsekas

I have a large list of articles written for many many albums that either changed my life or changed extreme’s sound course still most of them are not completed or written about a dozen of years ago (or during these years) and probably some things have (also) changed in the way I see them; Believe me the albums remained 100% the same…so I have to look back on my scripts. I had some notes ready for the 40th anniversary of Saxon’s fifth studio album, the legendary ‘Power & The Glory’originally out on March 1983 by Carrere Records. Due to personal issues I wasn’t much on writing this year, especially on March, and now that things seem to get much better I took my notes in order to finish my text about it. As it was written a long time ago I didn’t remember well some annotation about the critical reception the album had. Through AllMusic I found a review by Eduardo Rivadavia (which his last name should bring you in mind one of the longest avenues of the world or the first ‘democratic’ president of Argentina that gave his name to the avenue…), that more or less speaks about a weak (I say weak ‘cause giving a 3 out of 5 stars actually makes it good, but just good) album just above average. Well I couldn’t disagree more and this made me search for other reviews on internet, something I never do, and I rediscovered why I didn’t and I will never do it again. No matter if a review is well written or not, if it doesn’t add some information or even some trivia about the album or the way it was recorded, despite the fact that it may say the same things about the album as your opinion about it, still it doesn’t ‘help’ you at all. Well just imagine when you read the exact opposite things on a review of what you have in mind about an album… So you can see why you can’t ‘trust’ anyone but your own self! After all in our days you can hear any album or record you want via so many platforms and you can judge as good as any other fan, listener, music journalist or whatever can! To make this long story short I certainly dig ‘Power & The Glory’ and probably the 1,5 million that bought it I guess agree with me…

But let’s get 41 years ago when Saxon at the height of his success in their homeland, United Kingdom, tried to break into the American market and went to record their next record there. It was the ‘Def Leppard syndrome’ years, the frenetic search for ‘gold’, and the hunt for commercial success beyond Atlantic Ocean. They entered Axis Sound (in Atlanta) with a new drummer, Nigel Glockler in the fall of 1982. As it follows a tremendous trilogy (‘Wheels of Steel’, ‘Strong Arm of the Law’, both in 1980 & ‘Denim and Leather’ the following year) things couldn’t get more difficult in terms of comparison, but truth be told its predecessors gave it a remarkable momentum despite the fact that it was the first album not recorded by the classic lineup of the band.

The artwork cover is so simple if not naïve, almost ugly, so ugly it would be a disaster, that makes it romantically and nostalgically perfect in its simplicity and naivety! In a raw and more focused on music era back then, some records didn’t need any fancy or strong artwork cover to make you buying it. You just went to your local record store and asked them to bring you the new Saxon LP. As simple as that. The production (by former Kansas producer Jeff Glixman, Pete Hinton and Saxon) though was hmmm…something new! Probably a bit refined, and radio-friendly, less edgy or rough, still with great work on guitars and layering making an advanced path for ‘Crusader’ or ‘Innocence Is No Excuse’ to come later… That could help some really great ideas to shine. Some would say the exact opposite! But how can you bury riffs like the opener in the title track? You just can’t…‘Power & The Glory’ is an instant classic anthem and the album continues the birth of Heavy Metal anthems like something naturally and easy to do as ‘Redline’ or ‘Warrior’ spins in your deck. There’s an endeavor on writing faster songs here and more catchy tunes and choruses flirting with Rock ‘n Roll but you can still see the mid-tempo N.W.O.B.H.M. origin clearly too. The lyrics vary from anti-war/soldiers of fortune – inspired by the Falklands war themes or biker songs, U.F.O.s and I mean aliens not the legendary band…or even about nightmares; everyday issues and staff as any hard working man’s/woman’s band would write about.

The track list features also a slow ballad-esque song, ‘Nightmare’ which I love and upon its motive later and through their entire career wrote excellent songs, but back then most fans couldn’t appreciated much and though that the band was selling out, which wasn’t true at all.  ‘This Town Rocks’ was written as a crowd pleaser (lyrically speaking as musically it sounds like proto-thrash) and you can see that in ‘Power & The Glory’ Saxon were playing safe in terms of song writing formulas. Something that I couldn’t care less as the final result in more than amusing to my ears…’Watching The Sky’ has this a little bit radio oriented/radio friendly riff, but the chorus is easy and memorable and makes you want to sing it man, so I guess it worked its purposes, ‘Midas Touch’ is heavy and interesting with Byff taking it on his shoulders with great performance and based on atmosphere and a strange combo of catchy riffs and moody parts in the way we have heard in ‘Frozen Rainbow’ before. A hidden gem in their discography. The closer ‘The Eagle Has Landed’ (which was the title of their first live album that was out just before the release of  ‘Power & The Glory’ and was recorded during the European leg of the world tour supporting the album ‘Denim and Leather’ and released in 1982. The album reached #5 in the UK charts. It also won the British Heavy Metal live 1982 Award)- is one of their most famous songs and has this strength, and heaviness with its slower parts, then speeds up again with excellent powerful guitar soloing born for live shows, intense vocals and turns to be a genuine classic. Surely their most ‘Pink Floyd’ meets Priest’s ‘Victim of Changes’ moment ever.

At the end of the day and the safe look after 40 fucking years we are dealing with another classic album from Saxon, featuring a bunch of great songs, the Quinn/Oliver guitar duo on their peak (again), Byff sitting on his Heavy Metal throne (that moved him from England to the States), a great rhythm section giving extra energy and five young guys full of thirst for success. Dreams are made with ingredients like the aforementioned and if you are Saxon somehow you live them…

Giorgos Tsekas
Giorgos Tsekas
"Κάποτε Όταν Θα ‘χουμε Καιρό... Θα Σκεφτούμε Πάνω Στις Ιδέες Όλων Των Μεγάλων Στοχαστών, Θα Θαυμάσουμε Τους Πίνακες Όλων Των Μεγάλων Ζωγράφων, Θα Γελάσουμε Με Όλους Τους Χωρατατζήδες, Θα Φλερτάρουμε Όλες Τις Γυναίκες, Θα Διδάξουμε Όλους Τους Ανθρώπους" Μπ. Μπρεχτ

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