Saxon - Denim And Leather review


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Band: Saxon
Album: Denim And Leather
Release date: October 1981

Disc I
01. Princess Of The Night
02. Denim And Leather
03. Out Of Control
04. Never Surrender
05. Rough And Ready
06. And The Bands Played On
07. Midnight Rider
08. Fire In The Sky
09. Play It Loud

Disc II [2009 remaster bonus]
01. 20,000 Ft. [remix] [B-side of Never Surrender]
02. Bap Shoo Ap [Live at Castle Donington]
03. Intro/And The Bands Player On [live]
04. Princess Of The Night [live]
05. Midnight Rider [live]
06. Never Surrender [live]
07. Fire In The Sky [live]
08. Machine Gun [live]
09. Play It Loud [live]

Third time is the charm.

The third and final instalment in the insanely strong trilogy that Saxon released in just a two-year span, raising the bar one last time as they put their name in the history books only four albums into what is a legendary career, Denim And Leather is the centrepiece of the trilogy and is very much in the same vein as the prior two records, but the added experience and time gives this album a boost that it uses to its advantage.

It's rare a band can produce three of the strongest albums in a genre over a whole career, let alone two years, but something must have been in that tea because Saxon were on a roll and they weren't slowing down yet. Carrying on in much the same vein as their prior two releases, Denim And Leather is no pivot or change of direction but a leap forward on the same path they had walked up until this point. NWOBHM would be a vastly different place if it wasn't for these Yorkshire lads.

Leaving the obvious highlights until last, what about the lesser known album tracks that are on the album but rarely mentioned? Well they are no slouches themselves and more than pull their weight when given the chance; the anthemic "Play It Loud" is one that should get a rise out of anyone with a pair of working ears. "Fire In The Sky" shows that the band could put their feet to the floor and more than handle the jump in speed, serving as a good dose of energy just as the album is ready to reach its crescendo. "Out Of Control" and "Rough And Ready" are forged in the same furnace as the rest of the album and are solid enough when you tap the metal to test its strength; they just lack that finesse that the rest of the album has, but by no means are they for scrap.

If you have any knowledge of the band, you are probably well acquainted with the highlights of the album; the opening salvo of "Princess Of The Night" and "Never Surrender", ode to Monsters of Rock "And The Bands Played On" and closing title track serve to punctuate the album with some of the classics of the NWOBHM movement. There is little that needs to be said to explain why these songs are as well regarded as they are, but I will say that the rest of the album isn't all that far behind the quality of these four tracks, such is the strength of the record as a whole.

What makes all these songs the hits they are? Well, Oliver and Quinn ensure each track has an instantly memorable riff that gives it a strong sense of identity and quality, and that's before the rest of the band add anything to the songs. I've seen complaints that the riffs are overly simplistic, but why is this of any detriment to them? "Never Surrender", "Play It Loud" and "Princess Of The Night" are perfect as they are and don't need unnecessary additions that might make them musically more impressive but sonically more muddled.

Dawson and Gill add a solid and admirable rhythm to the songs, settling in behind the riffs but adding their own charm to the tracks, be it Gill with his little fills and flairs dotted across each track or Dawson and his pulsing bass work that subtly gives the songs an additional facet to the band's potent mix. Of course, on top of all this is Biff; while he isn't the most accomplished vocalist, he more than compensates with his down to earth and relatable style that gives the band its working man's charm. His high pitch heroics give the band and the songs a quality that no matter of vocal training can achieve.

The only song that I waver on is "Midnight Rider"; while I can understand the peon to the life in the USA does take the shine off of the band's common roots somewhat, that is of little effect on me. Proving to be a harbinger of what was to come, the band try to balance power with radio appeal, and while it is an ok track, it is somewhat out of place on this album. Trying to transpose what worked for them up until now but now aiming for an audience they would go on to try their best to win over (to their own detriment), it seems disingenuous and formulaic. Often times I will give it a listen, if only because seven tracks in I can't be bothered to hit the skip button (saved by laziness I guess), but it does little to endear the song to me.

It is perhaps prophetic that the final words of this album would be "denim and leather, brought us all together, it was you that set the spirit free", as this is the last album Saxon fans are generally able to agree on as being great. Three feathers in their cap so early in their career, but ones that the band earned with some of the best metal and undoubtedly the greatest NWOBHM to be put to vinyl.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Production: 8


Written on 21.01.2021 by Just because I don't care doesn't mean I'm not listening.


Comments: 2   Visited by: 13 users
21.01.2021 - 15:09
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
To me this is their best and ever will be best unless they rekordet part 2 and never leaked it to others and will put it out soon.
Good classic NWONHM riggs, songs, its simply killer, frist 5 was killers, but this as whole album.
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
21.01.2021 - 18:54
Tom Muller
Agree best one with strong arm of the law
Fire walk with me

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