REVIEW: SAXON – “Inspirations”
We sometimes forget that our musical heroes are also fans. It is a special treat when a band or musician you admire takes the time to share the music which inspired them. Dick Clark said, “Music is the soundtrack of our lives”. On Inspirations by Saxon, we are given the gift of listening to part of the soundtrack that helped to forge this legendary band.
Inspirations is set to be released on March 19 via Silver Lining Music. The album was produced by vocalist Biff Byford with Jacky Lehmann handling the recording and mixing at Brockfield Hall. Joining Biff, as usual, is Paul Quinn (guitar), Nibbs Carter (bass), Doug Scarratt (guitar), and Nigel Glocker (drums).
There are 11 tracks on Inspirations. Saxon have curated quite a collection of classic rockers. Covers of songs by Motorhead, Deep Purple, and Thin Lizzy make perfect sense. However, there are a couple of shockers on this album that let Saxon showcase not only their versatility but the variety of music they enjoy.
If there is ever a song that fits as a perfect cover for a heavy metal band, it is “Paint It Black”. The eastern motif and sitar are transformed with the metal edge of Saxon. The guitar crunch of Paul Quinn and Doug Scarratt along with the rhythmic punch of Nibbs Carter and Nigel Glocker ignites this classic rocker. Biff doubles up his vocals to create his own soaring harmonies.
While the entire band provides stellar performances on this album, you have to love the range that Biff Byford flexes on Inspirations. He is pulling out all the stops on a number of the tunes on this album. In particular, his searing vocals on the cover of Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” and Deep Purple’s “Speed King” rule. These are challenging songs for any vocalist and Biff knocks it out of the park.
Everyone loves the Beatles and Saxon is no exception. Their cover of “Paperback Writer” is delightful. It captures the bounce and jaunty enthusiasm of the original. The harder edge applied by Saxon works wonders here.
A personal favorite on Inspirations is the cover of Motorhead’s “Bomber”. Saxon plays maximum tribute to Motorhead with their full bore rendition of this 1979 ball buster. You have to wonder how many times the guys in Saxon heard this song opening up for Motorhead back in the day. I’m sure Lemmy would approve.
As mentioned earlier, there are some interesting surprises on Inspirations. The first is the cover of Toto’s “Hold The Line”. While this great tune screams out for heavy metal treatment, I never would have guessed the guys in Saxon would dig this tune. Saxon’s performance on this tune is magnificent. The handling of the marvelous Steve Lukather solo is well done. This tune will be fun to crank up in the summer with the windows down as you are cruising down the road.
The other welcome surprise is the cover of The Kinks “See My Friends”. This 1965 tune charted high in the UK, but never really got much traction in the state making it a bit obscure for some. Saxon play to their strengths and once again show their penchant for eastern-influenced riffs.
Inspirations by Saxon is a fascinating tribute to some of the great music that inspired this legendary band. The selection of songs that Saxon covers provide a tantalizing look into the music they love. Deeply branded with the classic Saxon sound, the band makes the music of their heroes their own. As we search for the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, Saxon gives us a reason to smile with this fabulous collection of covers assembled on Inspirations.