Saxon is probably the most successful band from N.W.O.B.H.M. movement sharing this title with Iron Maiden. Twenty one full length albums, millions of copies sold all over the world and a devoted fanbase that grows stronger day by day. This is Saxon.
They created a great name for themselves in just a few years, releasing amazing albums, such as “Saxon” (1979), “Wheels of Steel” (1980), and “Strong Arm of the Law” (1980) and touring all over the world. In 1981 though, one of Saxon’s most characteristic tracks and a lit beacon in the Pantheon of greatest tracks ever written, “Princess of the Night” rocketed the band’s reputation.
“Princess of the Night” was originally released in the same titled 7” single, in January 1981, 10 months before the release of the band’s 4th album entitled “Denim & Leather”. That single provided a quick taste of what was coming up next and the success of this release made the anticipation from their fans even bigger for the upcoming full length album. The title track has amazing riffs, powerful drumming, catchy chorus, interesting and unconventional story (perhaps the – only and -greatest song ever about a train), tight as… denim guitars and time as …leather.
“Princess of the Night” is a great Saxon classic – a track that is always included in their live set and always gets a place on ‘best of’ releases. ‘Fire in the Sky’ on the b-side is a great but from many overlooked classic Saxon track that appeared also on “Denim & Leather”. The lyrics have a “coming Armageddon/Apocalypse” theme that wasn’t so popular back in the days and neither too common in Heavy Metal. “Fire in the Sky” has sharp guitars and nice rhythm and personally speaking is certainly among best songs from “Denim & Leather” album. So “Princess of the Night” is definitely a strong release with historical meaning and collective value. As an addition note please mark that the German version of this has the same cover art, only photographically inverted (white becomes black, and vice versa) while Carrere released also a live 7” single of the “Princess…” only for the market of Spain in 1982.
In 5th of October 1981 time was ripe for Saxon to release their 4th record and prove that the fuss around their name is justified. If you move past its poor cover, a cover that would be more suitable for a collection or a best-of release, you’ll find that “Denim & Leather” is flawless. Ok, setting aside that reduce in sound volume during the track “Midnight Rider” (it was a totally different era of technology/production), a record opening with the previously released “Princess of the Night” and including tracks like “Never Surrender”, “And The Bands Played On”, “Out of Control”, “Rough and Ready”, “Fire In The Sky” and concluding with the title – track is definitely a case of pure, raw power.
We’re talking about the definition of street feeling, riffraff and Heavy Metal of the highest level (and with all the clichés of course). With this studio album Saxon became an established entity in the entire Heavy Metal elite and escaped from the narrow circle of N.W.O.B.H.M. which of course have continued to honor for more than 35 years now and are one of the most successful representatives of the genre.
The album was recorded at “Aquarius Studios” in Geneva, Switzerland and “Polar Studios” in Stockholm, Sweden. The official release of the album took place on October 5, 1981 by the French record label “Carrere” and continued the success of the two previous albums of the band, “Wheels of Steel” and “Strong Arm of the Law”. “Denim and Leather” went to # 9 in the UK charts, remaining on the lists for three months, thus awarded as a silver record from the “British Phonographic Industry”. The album had three successful singles, “And the Bands Played On”, “Never Surrender” and “Princess of the Night”. The lyrics are dealing with diverse subjects, from the crowd of “Monsters of Rock” festival, for which Saxon pay tribute with the legendary track “And the Bands Played On” to a reference to a “Princess” railway train in “Princess of the Night” or a reference to bikes, partying, or the spirit of this music. Finally, we should note that “Princess Of The Night”, “And The Bands Played On” and “Denim & Leather” an integral part of the concerts’ setlist of the band for 40 years now.