Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Saxon - Crusader

Saxon is an English heavy metal band formed in 1976. By the time Crusader, their sixth studio album, was released in 1984 the line up included Billy Byford (vocals), Graham Oliver (guitar), Paul Quinn (guitar), Steve Dawson (bass), and Nigel Glocker (drums). Today (April 16th) marks the thirtieth anniversary of that release.

Chart-wise, Crusader did very well in Europe. It hit number 26 in Switzerland, number 20 in Germany, number 18 in the UK, number 16 on the Netherlands and number 15 in Sweden. Here in the US, it spent five weeks on the Billboard Album chart, peaking at number 174.

Side one opens with the one minute long "The Crusader Prelude"; it sounds like an audio clip from a medieval movie. It then leads directly into the title track "Crusader", an epic nearly seven minute adventure of a champion knight. The transition from single guitar to a heavier sound at the opening works well.

"A Little Bit of What You Fancy" is a rousing number that encourages one to indulge in what they enjoy most.

"Sailing to America" goes back to the history books, adding a rocking soundtrack to the early days of the Pilgrims' trip to Plymouth.

The first half closes out with "Set Me Free", Saxon's rapid-fire cover of the Sweet song from their 1974 album Sweet Fanny Adams.

Side two begins with "Just Let Me Rock". I like the slow, strutting rhythm on this one; it has a bit of a blues beat to it.

The band serves up a universal truth next, that "Bad Boys (Like to Rock N' Roll)".

It is time to slow things down a bit with the love ballad "Do It All For You".

"Rock City" is a loud, raucous ball of fun.

The album closes with "Run For Your Lives".

To the best of my knowledge, Crusader is my first exposure to Saxon. At the very least, this is the first time I ever recall hearing one of their albums from start to finish. Based on the short time on the US charts, I suspect they did not get a lot of airplay over here. Thanks to Spotify for having it all on disk four of The Carrere Years (1979-1984) collection. I liked what I heard well enough to dip into more of their catalog in the future.

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