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 Saxon - Unplugged And Strung Up (2CD Edition) (2013) Review

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Reign In Metal
Reign In Metal

Zodiac : Aries Metal Reputation : 88
Join date : 2012-01-05
Location : Vacationing in Hell

PostSaxon - Unplugged And Strung Up (2CD Edition) (2013) Review

Saxon - Unplugged And Strung Up (2CD Edition) (2013)
UDR/Militia Guard Music
Running Time CD1 65:07 -- CD2 59:36 -- Total Running Time 124:43

Some of you will already know that Saxon are my favourite band (and have been since 1982), of course, others will not, but I treat any review with as much honesty as I possibly can. Truthfully, I would buy their shopping list if they released it, but I know not everyone has that opinion so here goes! By the way this is also available in single CD, Vinyl and D2C Package versions.

We have already had the fantastic 'Sacrifice' studio album released this year and now we are being treated to a project that Saxon have been talking about doing for a while now! 'Unplugged And Strung Up" is a 'new' fourteen track collection of reworked and re-recorded songs. There are two things you'll need to know before listening to this! Firstly, yes, some of the songs have been released before (all five bonus tracks from the 2CD version of Sacrifice are included) plus the orchestral version of 'Call To Arms' (2011) and the bottleneck version of 'Coming Home' included on 'Into The Labyrinth' (2009) but originally on 'Killing Ground' (2001), but not all of you would have heard them before. Secondly, this is not a true unplugged album, so all of the comments from people I've seen on Facebook deriding this as two acoustic guitars and a singer (without actually hearing it) can stop moaning now!! 'Unplugged And Strung Up' is Saxon in 'full on metal mode' with knobs on and it is absolutely stunning! If you want another reason to buy it then 'Andy Sneap' has once again given us his 'Midas Touch' by mastering the whole thing and I don't think Saxon have ever sounded better than they do here!

'Stallions Of The Highway' kicks things off and that alone should quieten absolutely anyone thinking this is an 'acoustic' album! My favourite Saxon track comes next. 'Crusader' was always a staggering song, but the orchestrated version takes it to another level completely and the guitar solo even improves on the original. Weakish production on Saxon's 1986 album 'Rock The Nations' always held it back, but 'Battle Cry' now sounds like it always should have done...HEAVY! That statement also rings true for the re-recorded versions of 'Forever Free' and 'Just Let Me Rock'. Orchestrated versions of 'The Eagle Has Landed' and 'Broken Heroes' fare just as well as 'Crusader' and 'Militia Guard' has been given a completely new lease of life. Personally though, it is the new orchestrated version of 'Red Star Falling' from 2007's 'The Inner Sanctum' which takes top honours here. There are indeed four acoustic songs at the end of the disc but they all work incredibly well including the wonderful 'Frozen Rainbow'! This version of 'Unplugged And Strung Up' also includes 2002's 'Heavy Metal Thunder' album which was Saxon's first foray into re-recording some of their earlier material on a second disc. It's a more than worthy inclusion here, especially if you are a returning or new fan, swayed by the 'about bloody time' resurgence in popularity that Saxon are currently enjoying!

I've said it before but with the passing of time vocalist 'Biff Byford' just keeps getting better and better, 'Paul Quinn' and 'Doug Scarratt' are both severely underrated guitarists, 'Nibbs Carter' thunders on the bass and 'Nigel Glockler'...well Nigel is, in my opinion, the finest drummer to grace the face of the planet and the reason I purchased my first drum kit 32 years ago!

Some people have a go at bands for re-recording their earlier material but my opinion has always been that if they are still making great new music then why not. Contrary to popular belief Saxon never went away and haven't made a comeback. They have been here all along releasing fresh material every two to three years (much of which has actually been their best work) and with them recently having concluded a successful tour of America and already writing material for the next studio album they aren't ready to go anywhere soon, In fact the eagle is soaring!

Review written exclusively for Brutiful Entertainment by Rick Tilley

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