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The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
CD REVIEW SAXON UNPLUGGED AND STRUNG UP

SAXON

UNPLUGGED AND STRUNG UP

2013

 

 

NOT WHAT IT SAYS ON THE TIN

 

 

The opening track on Saxon’s latest offering ‘Unplugged and Strung Up’: ‘Stallions of the highway’ is neither acoustic nor in any way we can tell does it involve any instrument being physically unplugged. The same goes for ‘Forever Free’; ‘Militia Guard’ and ‘Battle Cry’; ‘all of which are in fact recordings with full plugged-in treatment. Aside from that slight oddity – starting an ‘unplugged’ album with an electric track which makes you think you’ve been handed the wrong album I have to say this is impressive. It’s even more impressive if you buy the special edition that adds the previously available CD of re-recorded hits ‘Heavy Metal Thunder’.

 


If there ever was a band you wondered if they could make it work acoustically it’s probably Saxon. Never known for their subtlety, its little wonder that this album has taken so long to see the light of day. Sadly we don’t really get what it says on the packet as the album is not exactly ‘Unplugged’ first and foremost, with most songs merely re-recorded or with orchestration rather than actually acoustic treatments (only four of the fourteen here are actually acoustic).

 


Now were aren’t denying that the orchestral touches work well, or that Andy Sneap’s production isn’t of the highest quality, or that songs like ‘Crusader’ sound great , nor are we saying that the re-recordings don’t sound fine – they do. We’re just bringing it to your attention that you have to skip to track 12: ‘Frozen Rainbow’ to actually hear anything acoustic.

 


‘Frozen Rainbow’ from Saxon’s 1979 debut actually isn’t that great a song (but better than the original) but the live acoustic version of ‘Iron Wheels’ is, as are the other two here – the wonderful ‘Requiem’ and ‘Coming Home’ which are both particularly satisfying.

 


Of the ‘Strung Up’ (orchestral) offerings almost every track works beautifully, though it’s expectedly the ‘bigger’ numbers where you have the benefit of greater familiarity that shine.

 


Saxon has certainly been busy of late and despite the somewhat turgid ‘Call to Arms’ from 2011 this year’s ‘Sacrifice’ was a strong return to form. We loved this album even if we had issues with the title.

 

 

Mark Diggins

 

CD REVIEW SAXON UNPLUGGED AND STRUNG UP 2013