SAXON – Wheels Of Steel [Remastered, Extra Tracks Edition]
Some classic SAXON albums is its remastered / extra tracks edition have been requested here, so let’s go now with “Wheels Of Steel” the second studio album by the English band. “Wheels Of Steel [Remastered, Extra Tracks Edition]” features no less than 8 bonus tracks, including some rare tracks, a single B-side, the legendary SAXON performance at the first Castle Donington Festival, and a complete booklet in the Rock Candy fashion with rare photos and liner notes by specialist Jerry Ewing (Metal Hammer Magazine) in cooperation with Biff Byford.
After finding themselves a qualified heavy metal producer in Pete Hinton, the members of SAXON recovered from their disappointing debut (at least, in sales) in fine form with 1980’s career-defining “Wheels Of Steel”.
As well as effectively setting the template for the band’s most successful efforts, the album’s songs positively gleamed with a bright, metallic sheen similar to that exhibited by the chrome eagle hoisting a motorcycle wheel on its iconic cover.
Wasting no time with niceties, “Wheels Of Steel” kicked straight into fifth gear with one of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal’s signature anthems, “Motorcycle Man.”
A proto-speed metal classic, the song also reintroduced the oft-recurring biker themes that would rear up again on the even more frenzied “Freeway Mad” and the album’s epic title track (as well as on many future tracks).
Another song joining “Wheels Of Steel” in SAXON’s career roll of honor is the dramatic, lyrically unique “747 (Strangers in the Night)” – which described an airplane’s emergency landing – but a slew of additional standouts like “Street Fighting Gang,” “See the Light Shining,” the furious “Machine Gun,” and the contrastingly romantic “Suzie Hold On” (perhaps the band’s finest early ballad) rounded out the album in style.
The bonus tracks include the creation stages take of ‘Suzie Hold On [1980 Demo Rehearsal]’ and
“Wheels Of Steel [1980 Demo Rehearsal]”, and the awesome SAXON performance at the first edition of the now legendary Castle Donington Festival – which has built itself a reputation as the ‘spiritual home of British hard rock’ – alongside Judas Priest, Rainbow and Scorpions.
“Wheels Of Steel” completes the triad heap of essential SAXON albums, pretty much hand in hand with its immediate successors, Strong Arm Of The Law and Denim And Leather.
This Remastered, Extra Tracks Edition series really do justice to these essential SAXON early recordings. The mere term “remaster” is ambiguous when dealing with music made long before the digital age dawned, as it usually involves replacing the original tape with something presumably “cleaner” and more up to date (read: sterile) that all but ruins it.
To me, the best remaster of an album from 1980 is one that attempts to replicate the sound of hearing a brand new copy of the original vinyl. These SAXON remasters do just that, so much so that I’ve officially retired my worn old Carrere LP pressings of these albums.
If that weren’t enough, each reissue contains expanded liner notes with input from frontman Biff Byford himself, along with various clippings from the day and reproductions of the back covers of each LP, making them essential for collectors.
To summarize, mandatory album, and remasters that give these 30 year old recordings a new lease on life.
01 – Motorcycle Man
02 – Stand Up And Be Counted
03 – 747 [Strangers In The Night]
04 – Wheels Of Steel
05 – Freeway Mad
06 – See The Light Shining
07 – Street Fighting Gang
08 – Suzie Hold On
09 – Machine Gun
10 – Suzie Hold On [1980 Demo Rehearsal]
11 – Wheels Of Steel [1980 Demo Rehearsal]
12 – Stallions Of The Highway [Live B-Side]
13 – Motorcycle Man [Castle Donington, 16th Aug 1980]
14 – Freeway Mad [Castle Donington, 16th Aug 1980]
15 – Wheels Of Steel [Castle Donington, 16th Aug 1980]
16 – 747 [Strangers In The Night] [Castle Donington, 1980]
17 – Machine Gun [Castle Donington, 16th Aug 1980]
Biff Byford – vocals
Graham Oliver – guitar
Paul Quinn – guitar
Steve Dawson – bass
Pete Gill – drums
BUY IT !