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Saxon: The Vinyl Hoard

Hot on the heels of their multi-vinyl studio album retrospective, Eagles & Dragons, UK metal veterans Saxon turn their attention to their live output from more recent years (well, the last couple of decades, the band have been on the go since 1977). Brought together under the name The Vinyl Hoard, this 8 record, gold vinyl set celebrates The Eagle Has Landed II, The Eagle Has Landed III and the To Hell And Back Again DVD. Each here is renamed from the tour the recordings came from, hence we start with The Dogs Of War Tour 1995 (THL-II), before moving on to The Lionheart Tour 2004 (THL-III disc 2), A Night Out With The Boys Tour 2005: The 25th Anniversary of the NWOBHM (THL-III disc 1) and finally Rock Sound Festival 2006 (THAB). Each of the tours comes packed in a gatefold sleeve with newly created artwork from legendary Saxon artist-in-residence Paul Gregory and look to be things of utter beauty. Now I say, 'look', because the box sets themselves weren't, at the time of writing, available for review, so while this looks like it will be an awesome set (and its Eagles & Dragons predecessor was stunning, so I've no reason to believe this will be otherwise), I haven't actually clapped eyes on one.

So with that in mind, let's turn our attention to the music. With guitarist Graham Oliver having departed the band after the release of the Dogs Of War album, the tour found his ex-sparring partner Paul Quinn joined by new recruit Doug Scarratt. The pair combined like old-hands, while the rest of the band was completed by bassist Nibs Carter, drummer Nigel Glockler and of course singer and on stage raconteur Biff Byford. Credited as being recorded 'in Germany', the band are on top form as they hammer their way through old classics like "Crusader", "Princess Of The Night", "Denim And Leather" (where Scarratt gets to take centre stage for an extended solo) and closer "Wheels Of Steel". Newer mainstays such as "Solid Ball Of Rock" and "Forever Free" sitting nicely with (then) brand new cuts such as "Dogs Of War". The energy in the set is matched by the ferocity with which the songs are attacked and the crowd's enthusiastic response. Put it all together and it makes for an extremely fine live album.

Impressively, a feature across this whole box-set is that there's very little crossover of songs from album to album, only "Solid Ball Of Rock" repeated from the previous set on The Lionheart Tour, while the likes of "Jack Tars", "Lionheart", "Unleash The Beast" and "Broken Heroes" receive a welcome airing. The sound here is a much rawer, but no less effective, blast than the other 'shows' in this set, giving a less polished but welcome 'I was there feel' as the band strut their stuff.

Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, it's no surprise that the Night Out… album finds a collection of older numbers on show. Debut album cut "Frozen Rainbow" standing up superbly all those years later, while "Suzie Hold On", "Never Surrender" and "Stallions Of The Highway" do likewise; closing trio "Wheels Of Steel", "And The Band Played On" and "Crusader" met like the stone cold classics they are. I doubt anyone would have predicted that two and half decades down the line people would be paying homage to a metal movement that began in the late 70s in working class Britain, but they were, and continue to do so a further 11 years on.

It's massively to this band's credit and possibly much of the reason why they remain so relevant, that not only can the closing disc reveal vintage fan favourites such as "Heavy Metal Thunder", "Strong Arm Of The Law" and "Motorcycle Man" for the first time in this 8 album set, but also find more recent cuts like "Dragon's Lair" right at home against its more celebrated set-mates. Although the verve with which songs new and old alike are attacked also does much to explain that feat.

If there's one thing Saxon have continued to do throughout their many years, it's record great songs and play them live. Arguably it is in that live arena where they are at the peak of their powers, hence with three live releases brought together across eight records in what looks to be a stunning package, fans of the band really should not miss out on this excellent collection– there's even a limited to 500 version that come with a frameable print signed by Biff Byford himself!

Amazon Exclusive Edition with signed print

Standard Edition (no print)

Track Listing
Disc: 1
1. Intro/Warlord
2. Dogs Of War
3. Forever Free
4. Requiem
5. Crusader
6. Lights In The Sky
7. Iron Wheels  
8. Ain't Gonna Take It/Nibb's Bavarian Bass  
9. Crash Dive  
10. Refugee

Disc: 2
1. Solid Ball Of Rock
2. The Great White Buffalo
3. The Eagle Has Landed/Paul Quinn guitar feature
4. Princess Of The Night
5. Can't Stop Rockin
6. Denim And Leather/Doug Scarratt guitar feature
7. Wheels Of Steel/Demolition Alley

Disc: 3
1. The Return
2. Lion - heart
3. Man And Machine
4. Beyond The Grave
5. Searching For Atlantis
6. To Live By The Sword Part. 1
7. Unleash The Beast
8. To Live By The Sword Part. 2
9. Flying On The Edge

Disc: 4
1. Jack Tars
2. English Man O' War
3. Court Of The Crimson King
4. Broken Heroes
5. Dragon's Lair
6. Rock Is Our Life
7. Are We Travellers In Time
8. Solid Ball Of Rock

Disc: 5
1. This Town Rocks
2. Backs To The Wall
3. Redline
4. Stand Up And Be Counted
5. Never Surrender
6. Frozen Rainbow
7. Suzie Hold On
8. Play It Loud

Disc: 6
1. Warrior
2. See The Light Shining
3. To Hell And Back Again
4. Stallions Of The Highway
5. Wheels Of Steel
6. And The Bands Played On
7. Crusader

Disc: 7
1. Heavy Metal Thunder
2. Dogs Of War
3. Strong Arm Of The Law
4. Witchfinder General
5. Backs To The Wall
6. Solid Ball Of Rock

Disc: 8
1. Motorcycle Man
2. Dragon's Lair
3. To Hell And Back Again
4. Princess Of The Night
5. Wheels Of Steel
6. Crusader

Added: October 8th 2016
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Demon Music Group Saxon vinyl box
Hits: 7366
Language: english

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