Saxon – Inspirations


So you’re the front man of an iconic heavy metal band 44 years into a career which has seen so many ups and downs including two UK top 5 albums in the 80’s and a re-birth following a 2007 reality TV appearance (Harvey Goldstein’s Get Your Act Together). You have released 22 studio albums and have issued a number of live recordings plus an acoustic/orchestral album (2013’s Unplugged & Strung Up) as well as your own solo album (2020’s School Of Hard Knocks). So what’s left to do? Well the answer for Biff Byford and his merry band also known as Saxon is Inspirations. Available on Digital, CD, Vinyl and “Mix Tape” Cassette. What we have here are 11 tracks which have inspired and influenced them to become the band that they are today. Along for the ride are the current line up consisting of founder member Paul Quinn & Doug Scarratt on guitar, Nibbs Carter on bass and on drums Nigel Glockler now on his third and longest stint with the band.

So what exactly do we have here. Covers from The Rolling Stones, Thin Lizzy, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, The Kinks and old friends Motorhead … Oh and Toto’s ‘Hold The Line’… yes really? Each one has been reworked to give it that little Saxon twist some more successfully than others. ‘Problem Child’ is AC/DC and will always sound like them no matter who covers it even a band as distinctive as Saxon, because that is how DNA works. One of the most radical rework is witnessed during their version of first single ‘Paint It Black’ where Biff channels his inner Axl Rose taking his voice to a totally new place (so close I had to double check that Axl didn’t guest on the track). During the album the band show that there is a lot more to them than may initially meets the ears whether it be the vocal harmonies on ‘Paperback Writer’ or the guitar solos on ‘Evil Woman’ and ‘Stone Free’. Okay there are moments such as ‘Problem Child’ & ‘Bomber’ where it’s all a bit Saxon sings… but it is obvious throughout even on the slow paced ‘See My Friends’ or on an A.O.R. classic like Toto’s ‘Hold The Line’ that the band are having immense fun and I guess that was the plan from the outset.

The one thing that really stands out for me is that Biff has after all these years (and maybe because of) developed an amazing vocal range and quality which bodes well for any future Saxon projects. As Biff Byford slowly ticks off his musical bucket list what does the future have in store for us next? An album of nursery rhymes? an appearance on Strictly or Bake Off? or an album with his sibling (Biff & Seb coming to all formats soon – watch this space)? Whatever it is if it puts a smile on the punter’s faces as this release surely will. Who cares?

Reviewed By Peter Brockwell

Track List:

  1. Paint It Black
  2. Immigrant Song
  3. Paperback Writer
  4. Evil Woman
  5. Stone Free
  6. Bomber
  7. Speed King
  8. The Rocker
  9. Hold The Line
  10. Problem Child
  11. See My Friends