Top positive review
Brilliant Collection of Alternate Versions
on 11 December 2017
After watching Saxon live at Wacken where they had a small orchestra with them for a few songs (strings, percussion, keyboards), I was blown away by the symphonic touches on the classic Saxon sound. I got in touch with Saxon's team and asked them about if there was an album with an orchestra that they'd done, and I was directed to this album. And it's brilliant.
A song like Crusader sounds even better with the dynamics and degree of epic added by the strings and percussion in this Orchestrated Version; this was what the song was made for. Stallions of the Highway is blasted into this century with a new re-recorded version, a worthy remake of the original classic. The Orchestrated Version of The Eagle Has Landed is another triumph on this album too. With the original being the epic closer of The Power & The Glory album, this version is both modernised and taken down a different path, resulting in a brilliant addition to this album. Militia Guard is one of my personal favourites by Saxon, taken from their self-titled first album, and the version featured on this set is similar to the new version of Stallions of the Highway, it's just been taken into this century with its production and sound, brilliant to hear that Saxon really haven't, and will not, forget their roots. Forever Free could be argued that their was no real need to re-recorded as the '92 original still sounds fresh as ever now, but this version is just a touch more energetic and powerful, a great ode to the road! The new version of Just Let Me Rock here is brilliant. I love Crusader album, but I will admit that the production can be a little bit iffy here and there with it, and this song really suffers out of all of that album's songs, however, on this version, the production is basically stripped down to the basics, resulting in a 2000s sounding classic rock song, brilliant and well worth inclusion. Frozen Rainbow / Rainbow Theme are more personal favourites, once again taken from the first album, and the Acoustic Version featured here is beautiful. The dynamics are different, Biff's vocals come across even more heartfelt and and the musical accompaniment is perfect for the arrangement.
If you get the second bonus disc in this set, just remember that this is the Classics Re-Recorded set, that was a bonus disc with Killing Ground back in 2001 and appeared as it's own album with bonus tracks called Heavy Metal Thunder in 2002. This means that I now own this disc three times now, which isn't an issue at all of course, I just know that some people can be particularly anal about stuff like this, so it just needs to be pointed out that's all. (It's a brilliant greatest hits collection of Saxon's hits re-recorded with modern production and guirar sounds - an excellent album if you're a massive Saxon fan and like to hear new spins on the classics, proving although their age has risen, their abilities have not aged.)
So in conclusion, this is a 5* album for me. It has a great collection of songs that don't get heard often, and hearing the fresh takes on them be it Orchestral, Acoustic or a re-recording. I would say that this collection is a aimed at standing big fans of Saxon, but I would also say that younger music fans of this century who have not yet discovered Saxon may find this an excellent introduction album, due to the modern hard rock song and the sheer eclectic nature of the tracklisting. (I was lucky, my Dad used to love Saxon, I wanted a good live album as I was getting into music, he recommended The Eagle Has Landed, I was awe-struck and been a massive Saxon fan ever since, collecting every album along the way. Ta Dad.)