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Saxon - 'Unplugged And Strung Up' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/36/ae/a4/saxon-unplugged-and-strung-up-39-1392065115.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     February 10, 2014    
 
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Saxon tried something different, and that really is where the surprise lies.

During the course of the last 35 years Saxon have become something of a British heavy metal institution. They have a dedicated fan base across the whole of Europe and the fact they can still sell albums and tour regularly is testament to their unflinching belief in themselves and their music. 'Unplugged And Strung Up' is something of a departure for the band but is something that long time Saxonites will embrace and those new to the band (where have you been?!) will also find of interest.

The CD contains 14 tracks and features new and unique interpretations of classic songs, some stripped back to acoustic arrangements and others bolstered by the addition of a full orchestra. Obviously the orchestral format is something that has been tried before, Metallica's 'S&M' and Kiss's 'Symphony' spring to mind immediately, and the acoustic arrangements of songs has been around forever, but I guess they are both ways of giving genre favourites a new lease of life.

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The likes of 'Crusader', 'The Eagle Has Landed', 'Red Star Falling' and 'Broken Heroes' are completely re-worked and the orchestral backing gives them more of an epic feel. The material is given a new dimension and a different type of energy. The aggression that made the songs so appealing first time round is tempered in favour of something more thoughtful and less generic and works really well. Guitarists Paul Quinn and Doug Scarratt are on fire, the solos soaring and sweeping in and out of the strings of the orchestra whilst Barnsley's finest, Biff, is in fine voice, sounding little different to how he did when Saxon impacted on the metal public all those years ago. 'Forever Free' and 'Just Let Me Rock' have been re-recorded but the album would not have suffered if they had not been included. The acoustic versions of 'Frozen Rainbow', 'Iron Wheels (live), 'Requiem' and 'Coming Home' show the band's versatility and even though they are not plugged in it does not mean that the passion and power is missing.

The limited edition version of 'Unplugged and Strung Up' features a bonus CD, the 'Heavy Metal Thunder' album previously released in 2002. 13 re-recorded Saxon classics including 'Wheels of Steel', '747 (Strangers In The Night)', 'Dallas 1PM' and 'Motorcycle Man' that differ only slightly from the originals in the way they have been arranged but everything has a greater clarity, the guitars especially having more definition and bite. Just check out the likes of 'Princess Of The Night', 'Never Surrender' and 'Power & The Glory', simply bristling with energy.

I don't think that Saxon have tried to re-invent themselves with this release, just try something different, and that really is where the surprise lies.

Dave Bott

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