I’ll admit I’m a bit late to the party with this one, but heck, I taught five classes last semester, so here we are. Anyway, British legends Saxon have released Solid Book of Rock via Edsel Records and it’s a great way to spend that remaining cash on your Amazon gift card your great aunt Sadie gave you for Hanukkah. Solid Book of Rock is a box (or book really) set of Saxon’s work from 1991 through 2009 on CD. For those of us over 40, CDs are a still a thing and we likely own a ton of them. As much as my wife would like to see my CDs head upstairs to the attic right next to Grandma in her rocking chair (sorry, had to put that King Diamond reference in there) I still prefer to listen to CDs in the car on the commute in to work as opposed to the digital stuff. They just sound better and you don’t get that loss of sound like you often get with Bluetooth connections. And with Saxon, you can really hear the nuances in the dual guitar tracks and the detail in Byford’s vocal work.
This set has all the great recordings from the 1990s that you might have overlooked when you were listening to grunge back then. Yes, Soundgarden was great and so was (is) Alice in Chains, but there were actually a few classic metal bands like Saxon still going strong. The problem, of course, was that Saxon were getting zero airplay and MTV didn’t know that anything with a classic metal sound even existed. Similar to today, I guess. Personally, I really like the Classics Re-Recorded disc which features lots of the early hits featuring “Crusader,” “Princess of the Night,” and “Denim and Leather.” The songs are updated just a little and Biff shows he still has killer pipes. Great mix as well on these tracks that sound incredible in your premium sound system.
The set also contains the masterful Lionheart album from 2004 which showcases some very adept songwriting and some very punchy tunes that blend a bit from AC/DC and Iron Maiden as well as other classic influences. Similar to their upcoming tour mates, Judas Priest, Saxon had a resurrection of sorts in the 2000’s and brashly reclaimed their hard hitting early 80’s sound and feel making those of us who remember the glory days of the early days of that decade get back into the scene. You’re likely seeing Saxon as they open for Judas Priest on their upcoming US tour and if you’ve never really listened to Biff Byford and company, definitely give them a try. You won’t be disappointed. This reasonably priced set is a very nice entre into Saxon’s world.