Edsel Records [Release date 28.10.13]
You could argue: why do we want another Saxon live album from a time when arguably they were past their peak? Don’t be so miserable. Recorded in Germany in 1991 the band had just recorded ‘Solid Ball Of Rock’ and included the title track from that album. But apart from that it is essentially business usual as they power their way through a “greatest hits” selection which so often happens when a band is “between albums”.
It is another chance to hear the classic modern line-up of the band (with Graham Oliver replaced by Doug Scarratt in 1996) and, mastered from the original tapes, the audio is excellent. It was evidently recorded also for German radio at the time.
The band are on form, though, and in terms of their songs it really doesn’t get any better. Three tracks were included from their first EMI album in 1985 ‘Innocence Is No Excuse’ (Back On The Streets, Rock And Roll Gypsies, Broken Heroes) and one from 1988′s ‘Destiny’ (‘Ride Like The Wind’).
The early nineties was a difficult time for traditional heavy rockers and Saxon didn’t find it any easier, even given their ascendant status in the years 1980-1982. In respect of labels they had been released from their late-1980s deal with EMI and had lost their bass player Steve Dawson during this period. By the end of the 1990s they would become embroiled in litigation as previous members Oliver and Dawson tried to wrestle back use of the band name.
GRTR! reviewer and long-term Saxon watcher Joe Geesin has supplied informative liner notes and overall this is a worthwhile release for fans of the band and those catching up on a lesser-known and sometimes overlooked period of the band’s history. However purchasers should be aware of the album released in 1989 (when the band were signed to Castle) which pretty much duplicates the set list – ‘Greatest Hits – Live’ – also available on DVD as ‘Live Legends’. ****
Review by David Randall
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