Saxon - Rock The Nations review


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Band: Saxon
Album: Rock The Nations
Release date: 1986

Disc I
01. Rock The Nations
02. Battle Cry
03. Waiting For The Night
04. We Came Here To Rock
05. You Ain't No Angel
06. Running Hot
07. Party 'Til You Puke
08. Empty Promises
09. Northern Lady

Disc II [2010 Remaster]
01. Chase The Fade [b-Side of Waiting For The Night]
02. Waiting For The Night [7" Single Edit]
03. Northern Lady [7" Single Edit]
04. Everybody Up [Live in Madrid], [b-Side of Northern Lady]
05. Dallas 1pm [Live in Madrid], [b-Side of Northern Lady]
BBC Live at Reading Rock Festival 1986
06. Power And The Glory
07. Rock The Nations
08. Waiting For The Night

For me, Rock The Nations serves as the lowest ebb for Saxon during the 80's, which is a shame as the band were trying to appease their fans of old rather than focus on drawing in new fans. By now, the band were picking up the pieces and trying to put them back together, but end up with bloodied hands and a mess of an album.

The one-two of "Rock The Nations" and "Battle Cry" will give you a false impression that, aside from poor production. Rock The Nations is the sound of the band deciding to ditch the glam experiments and go back to what had worked before but alas, they prove to be false dawns once "Waiting For The Night" starts up. This bait and switch does feel like a kick in the teeth from the band, given they haven't successfully transitioned over to be being a rock band; rather than throwing a bone to fans of old, it serves as showing the hungry fans meat and expecting them not to go for more. This is the overarching theme with Rock The Nations; rather than try and mould songs so that they appeal to both sets of audiences, both old and new, they instead make the decision to offer up songs to placate both sides and hope there is enough for them to share and invest in.

This switching up between the two styles does at least mean that, aside from production issues, the good tracks aren't hindered by the need to change the direction of a song in order to please a target audience. The biggest problem, however, is that the good songs on Rock The Nations serve less as bright moments that the band can stand behind but rather gasps of air as the band keep their heads above water; they're good in the context of the album, but in the grand scheme of Saxon they are far from their best. Songs like the title track, "We Came Here To Rock", "You Ain't No Angel" and "Running Hot" are worth a listen and the ones I would turn to if this record was playing, but they're not ones I would put on any greatest hits by the band.

The exception to this is "Battle Cry"; even though it is held down by a weak production, it still manages to leap over the high bar the band has set to reach the plateau of their greatest work. Glockler's poorly produced drums push the track forward with a sense of power and purpose not seen since "Crusader" two albums prior, while Oliver and Quinn lace in some strong guitar work and Biff is in his element on vocals. Much like the aforementioned "Crusader", where the album is mostly forgotten save for that one track, I would say "Battle Cry" deserves the same treatment, though history has shown it has gone down with the ship.

The choice of Lyons as producer sends off alarms for me before the album even starts; given his prior work had been on Night In The Ruts by Aerosmith and with Foreigner, he didn't strike me as the best choice for a metal band going through an identity crisis. Suffice to say, listening to the album I feel proven correct. While he isn't a bad producer, he is very much a straight through the middle and unimaginative kind, the Tony Pulis of producers. Add this to a Saxon who want to be metal and glam at the same time and you have one hell of a mess: drums that are flat, drowned in reverb and echo with cymbals that have an annoying ring to them, alongside guitars that sound more like synths for the most part. What quality you could wring from this album is trapped by a production job that destroys the songs for the most part.

The focus on having Elton John play piano on "Party Til You Puke" and "Northern Lady" is a good distraction from the poor quality of the songs that he is performing on. The former is "A Little Bit Of What You Fancy" but even more far gone down the wacky road, while the latter is a ballad that does nothing but add to the running time of the album.

I will give it to the lads, they seemed to go into the album with good intentions, but somewhere along the way they lost their way and we end up with what can only be described as a mess. Rock The Nations had potential but it was squandered and wasted as they chased the ever elusive breakout record that would have cemented them alongside Judas Priest and Iron Maiden; while both bands released controversial and electronic-tinged albums the same year, Saxon unfortunately had more in common in terms of quality with Turbo than Somewhere In Time.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 6
Songwriting: 5
Originality: 6
Production: 6


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


Comments: 4   Visited by: 10 users
21.01.2021 - 15:10
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Standout songs: "Rock The Nations," "Waiting For The Night," "We Came Here To Rock"
Well maybe I would say their worst 80's album is Destiny . this is close
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 - 15:14
JoHn DoE

Saxon's weakest effort IMO.
I thought the two primary purposes for the internet were cat memes and overreactions.
21.01.2021 - 18:51
Tom Muller

No way. i always liked it, but maybe cause it was my first Saxon record i bought with my own money
Fire walk with me
19.02.2021 - 05:47
Lord Lanrac

Easily one of my all time favorite Saxon releases! Among their best works by far!
What is the difference between the man who fools you from the pulpit, and the other man who fools you from the platform?
Both of them seek to obtain power over you - To rule your mind, control your property interests or labor power.

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