Saxon still slamming out significant songs 35 years on 

If you weren’t there, it’s kind of hard to explain the amped-up electricity that was in the air in the late ’70s, when the Ramones-launched punk-rock movement swept across the Atlantic to Britain, and then back again like a tsunami across these shores.

And it’s even more difficult to evoke how it affected heavy metal — that Deep Purple-sludgy genre it was initially out to destroy. But — especially in England — keen-eared longhairs heard the punk locomotive chugging and, instead of leaping from the tracks in fear, gleefully jumped on board as it passed.

And oddly enough, those shrewd outfits are still around. Like Iron Maiden. And their more under-the-radar peers, Saxon. Who, believe it or not, are returning with an adrenalized new album, their 19th, dubbed “Call To Arms,” 35 years on.

And Saxon is still fronted by the cannon-booming Biff Byford, who first rattled rafters on Saxon’s landmark “Wheels Of Steel” debut, which put the punk pedal to drive-55 metal and set the tone for the Exodus/Metallica/Megadeth speed-metal onslaught that would follow.

So naturally, there’s a deluxe edition of “Call To Arms” available that features a retro-flashback bonus “Live At Donington 1980” disc, with definitive anthems like “747” and “Motorcycle Man.”

How have they endured so well, so long?

As Byford sees it, “It’s important to keep one foot in the past and one foot very much in the present. But you can’t keep being your own tribute band — you have to try and write great new songs, and you have to try to appeal to a younger audience. Saxon has been successful doing that for the last decade, and the result is we still have our old fan base, but we also have a whole new younger one, too.”

For more information, visit

About The Author

Tom Lanham

Pin It

More by Tom Lanham

Latest in Pop Music & Jazz

© 2019 The San Francisco Examiner

Website powered by Foundation