Review: Saxon – ‘Inspirations’

Cover versions and covers albums alike have and will continue to divide opinion for decades. On one hand, it can be a lazy album filler with little thought put into it, on the other, a song can have new life breathed into it. It can also be a great way to introduce a fan base to artists they may not have heard before. Now it’s Biff and the boys’ turn to give the covers album the Saxon treatment!

Recorded at Brockfield House in York and produced by Biff Byford himself (more on that later) this eleven-track album gives us a little peek into the music that inspired the band, Hence the title “Inspirations”

Straight out of the gate “Paint It Black” sets the tone immediately with muscular guitars and thunderous drums driving the stones classic deep into your ears. For the most part, the artists chosen to tribute here are the usual suspects, Sabbath, Motorhead, Deep Purple, etc. But it was The Beatles’ “Paperback Writer” that most caught my attention. I’ve long been a fan of the original and was keen to hear Saxon’s take on it. It hurtles along like an out-of-control train. Elsewhere “Evil Woman” sees Biff doing his best Ozzy impression. The big standout track has to be the one that was the most unlikely, Toto’s “Hold the Line”. The unmistakable piano intro replaced by a Marshall-driven electric guitar.

I never had Biff Byford pinned as a record producer but the production on this album is stellar. The sound is bombastic, sharp and crunchy. The guitars cut through the mix and it’s refreshing to hear the bass guitar driving along with some of the best sounding drums I’ve heard in a long time! Biff double records plenty of the vocals on this record and it gives the records a unique sound.

Something not often mentioned in album reviews but I wanted to point it out here is the cover art. It’s a black and white artist drawing of Saxon standing outside Brockfield House surrounded by all the acts covered inside. It’s a nice nod to The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper album although I can’t help thinking it should have been in colour. The black and white making it look like the latest doom metal release.

Structurally the songs on this album don’t deviate too far from their originals, Saxon play them straight albeit in their own classic style. Nothing on here is going to change the face of music or metal alike but goddamn these songs are so much fun. I’m not afraid to admit I was playing some serious air guitar to “The Rocker”. This album is screaming out to be played loud at your next party!

Available March 19th, more information here.

Review – Colin Plumb

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