Saxon

Decade Of The Ea­gle 1979-1988

Classic Rock - - The Hard Stuff Reissues - dom Law­son

Biff and co’s first golden age of hard rock re­vis­ited – once again.

Leg­endary sta­tus is a some­what neb­u­lous con­cept th­ese days, but it’s easy to spot the real thing – all you have to do is count how many times a band’s back cat­a­logue has been repack­aged and reis­sued.

Cur­rently en­joy­ing a sec­ond or pos­si­bly even third golden era, Saxon have ab­so­lutely no need to trade on past glo­ries and as a re­sult, Decade Of The

Ea­gle should re­ally be swiftly added to the Bri­tish quin­tet’s ever-grow­ing pile of com­pi­la­tions and re­mas­ters, and never spo­ken of again. Fans will al­ready own all of this stuff and young new­com­ers are more likely to find an en­try point from the band’s more re­cent cat­a­logue of great al­bums.

Ig­nor­ing the fact that th­ese are some of the great­est hard rock and metal songs of all time, it’s hard to dis­cern the point of the whole thing in the mod­ern age of streaming and Spo­tify playlists. But then, out of po­lite­ness if noth­ing else, you crank the bug­ger up, Stal­lions Of The High­way bursts out of the speak­ers and all cyn­i­cism melts away.

Pri­mar­ily culled from the band’s first nine stu­dio al­bums, Decade Of The Ea­gle does a great job of com­pil­ing the high­lights of Saxon’s first ten years and con­se­quently feels more sub­stan­tial than a stan­dard great­est hits pack­age.

All the usual sus­pects are here, of course, from age­less an­thems like Wheels Of Steel and Heavy Metal Thun­der through to wor­thy deep cuts like Suzie Hold On and The Ea­gle Has Landed.

A chrono­log­i­cal ap­proach brings some wel­come co­he­sion to this collection, and live ver­sions of Mo­tor­cy­cle Man,

20,000 Ft and Fire In The Sky pro­vide a telling glimpse into Saxon’s on-stage prow­ess dur­ing the 1980s. In fact, it’s a near-de­fin­i­tive his­tory les­son, even though it’s hard to imag­ine any fans of the band need­ing one at this point.

The first disc is solid gold from start to fin­ish (yes, even Big Teaser). How­ever, Saxon didn’t end the 80s in the great­est of shape. The sec­ond half of Decade

Of The Ea­gle naturally has some great mo­ments, not least the mighty Cru­sader. Un­for­tu­nately, the two tracks from

1988’s woe­ful Des­tiny bring Decade to a rather in­aus­pi­cious close.

Ul­ti­mately, that’s how the story of Saxon’s rise to glory (and sub­se­quent de­tour into glam-soiled ig­nominy) played out, and while you may feel you’ve paid money for Princess Of The Night on more than enough oc­ca­sions al­ready, this is at least a com­pre­hen­sive and well-crafted salute to some bona fide liv­ing leg­ends.

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