Saxon - Unplugged And Strung Up

Saxon - Unplugged And Strung Up

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(CD, UDR Music, 2013)

One can start wondering if there is any point of live recordings and compilations that show up these days. And especially for SAXON who actually have a whole bunch listed in their discography, both live albums and compilations. So, is there really room for one more? Well, “Unplugged And Strung Up” is rather special and perhaps I didn’t check it much (online or just reading the promo-sheet) before throwing the record into the player. I really thought it should be something acoustic... Damn, was I wrong! Ok, there are a few acoustic tracks as well like a live-recorded acoustic version of “Iron Wheels” that just happens to be the absolute highlight. But first things first!

The record standard versions of “Crusader”, “The Eagle Has Landed” and “Broken Heroes” to mention a few, tracks are enhanced with a rather massive orchestral arrangement. The effect is fantastic in “The Eagle Has Landed” that has becomes really dramatic and suggestive. “Crusader” did not come across as cool for me though because I think when the orchestra really gets going, it becomes very folksy, like KORPIKLAANI or even TURISAS. A rather odd mix for me, but for the rest of tracks with the same treatment this works really well. Take for example the already heavy “Red Star Falling” where the chorus becomes so damn cool when the strings really hit it.

The record also features a re-recorded version of “Forever Free” and “Just Let Me Rock” and the former is my live-favorite. Normally such tracks tend to lose a bit of the original spirit but this is not the case here, even though I have to confess I still prefer the first recordings. This is the same with those tracks that were re-worked and were added as bonus to “Killing Ground”. A band with such drive and spirit like SAXON can pull this off but still I am not sure if it’s necessary. This may be not that important to mention but it doesn’t seem that a real orchestra was used. The thing was created in sound mastermind Andy Sneap’s studio in Derbyshire, UK. Anyway, the arrangements are fantastic and the songs sound amazing. For me this record is worth every penny just because of the last four tracks; the acoustic versions of “Frozen Rainbow”, the aforementioned “Iron Wheels”, “Requiem” and “Coming Home”. The naked guitars along with Biff’s voice are a great mix and there’s so much emotion. This is surely something I really would like to see live and I am sure it would be awesome. And they can pull it off since after all, “Iron Wheels” was recorded live.

To put “Heavy Metal Thunder” as the second disc in this package, sure is a good deal. Either if you’re new to SAXON it’s a perfect way to get into it, or for the ones following the band over the years, why complain; “Heavy Metal Thunder” is a fantastic collection of songs.





CD1 Unplugged And Strung Up:

01. Stallions Of The Highway (remix)
02. Crusader (orchestrated version)
03. Battle Cry
04. The Eagle Has Landed (orchestrated version)
05. Red Star Falling (orchestrated version)
06. Broken Hope (orchestrated version)
07. Call To Arms (orchestrated version)
08. Militia Guard
09. Forever Free (re-recorded)
10. Just Let Me Rock (re-recorded)
11. Frozen Rainbow (acoustic)
12. Iron Wheels (live acoustic)
13. Requiem (acoustic)
14. Coming Home (acoustic)

CD2 Heavy Metal Thunder:

01. Heavy Metal Thunder
02. Strong Arm Of The Law
03. Power & The Glory
04. And The Bands Played On
05. Crusader
06. Dallas 1PM
07. Princess Of The Night
08. Wheels Of Steel
09. 747 (Strangers In The Night)
10. Motorcycle Man
11. Never Surrender
12. Denim & Leather
13. Backs To The Wall


Biff Byford - Vocals
Paul Quinn - Guitars
Doug Scarratt - Guitars
Nibbs Carter - Bass
Nigel Glockler - Drums