The members of veteran British hard rock band Saxon have been making real hard rock for over three decades. The band released its twentieth new full length studio release in that span last year in the form of Sacrifice. It was the second album from the band in as many years. Sacrifice was received to much praise from fans and critics alike upon its release last year. Now, Saxon’s members have followed up the success of Sacrifice with an album that while not entirely new per se is still another solid release from the band in Unplugged & Strung Up. Fans will appreciate in this pseudo hits compilation first and foremost the fact that it has been released both in standard edition and a special expanded edition. Secondly, the band’s older fans will appreciate it in part because it will take them on that proverbial trip down memory lane thanks to the reworking of some of its more well-known classic songs. Staying in that same vein, these reworked songs are just as enjoyable an introduction to those that might be new to the band’s music. Fans that take all of this into consideration will agree after hearing this record that while it might not necessarily be a new album in its purest definition, it is still a great hard rock ride for any rock and roll purist.
Unplugged and Strung Up is another success from Saxon right off the top because of its dual format release. It was released both as a standard single-disc compilation of re-worked songs and as a special expanded double-disc set. The expanded double-disc set includes another collection of re-worked hits from the band. That collection is the band’s 2002 compilation, Heavy Metal Thunder. Regardless of which edition of this new compilation audiences order or buy, they can be guaranteed plenty of reason to put their horns in the air. The LP’s expanded edition includes something of a bonus in that only ‘Crusader’ is repeated between the two discs. Other than that, the re-worked songs that fill both discs in the expanded edition are completely different from one another. This plays into the album’s final factor of the album’s success and will be discussed at such time.
The songs chosen for Unplugged & Strung Up are the very foundation of this compilation. They will take more seasoned fans down memory lane again whether in the standard single-disc edition or the expanded double-disc edition. The single-disc compilation offers audiences a solid set of amped up and reworked songs as well as some more stripped down pieces such as the emotionally stirring ‘Requiem’ and the compilation’s bluesy acoustic closer, ‘Coming Home.’ After the journey down memory lane on which Saxon’s members take fans on this compilation, ‘Coming Home’ is a fitting closer for this record. Singer Biff Byford’s vocals are just as powerful here as at any other point. And the”gritty-ness” of his vocals make his singing style a perfect fit for this take on the song, too. If that isn’t enough for audiences, then perhaps the power rock styling of ‘’Red Star Falling’, and ‘Crusader’, and the orchestral composition included in ‘Call To Arms’ will win over audiences. Whatever song or songs audiences choose as their favorite from Unplugged & Strung Up (or UASU as it will henceforth be known) audiences are given plenty from which to choose on this record.
Staying in the vein of the solid song choices and sequencing of UASU that same choice of songs and sequencing that will impress more seasoned fans will also pull in listeners that are perhaps not as familiar with the veteran rock band’s rich musical history. The band proves both with its standard edition and its expanded double-disc edition that there is still very much a place and a need for pure guitar driven rock and roll complete with actual singing. At a time when it seems that so much of the rock world continues to be dominated by bands whose singers sound like cookie monster and guitar players make their guitars as “crunching” as possible, the songs included in this new compilation are a welcome breath of fresh air even being a group of re-worked “hits.” The album is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct from Saxon’s official website, http://www.saxon747.com. Fans can also check out the band’s official website and its official Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com.saxon for all of the latest news on the band’s current tour schedule. The band is set to kick off its European tour beginning next month in Northampton, UK. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.