British heavy metal legends SAXON will release a covers album, "Inspirations", on March 19 via Silver Lining Music. The 11-track effort contains some of the superb classic rock songs that influenced Biff Byford and the rest of the band. The LP's second single, a cover of "Speed King", DEEP PURPLE's classic tune from the 1970 album "Deep Purple In Rock", can be streamed below.
"Without 'Speed King', there would be no 'Motorcycle Man'," Byford said when explaining the importance of the song on SAXON's early career ascendance. "I love the attitude, energy and driving speed of this song, not to mention those screaming vocals. I'd never sung it before, and I had great fun with it."
"Inspirations" was recorded at Brockfield Hall, near York in the U.K., which was built in 1804 and holds the largest collection of paintings by Yorkshire's impressionist artists — the Staithes Group. For Byford, recording "Inspirations" all together within such a rich historical environment was a major ingredient of the project. "The warmth and feel of 'Inspirations' had so much to do with being together in this magnificent place and doing it 'old-school' style," Byford explained. "This is how many bands back in the day —including some of the ones covered here — made such great albums, so it just felt really good to be able to do this somewhere like Brockfield Hall."
From the super-charged melodic romp of THE BEATLES' "Paperback Writer" to their freeway mad take on Jimi Hendrix's "Stone Free", SAXON show their love and appreciation with a series of faithful, raw and ready tributes. Maintaining a firm eye on the old-school way using Marshall cabs, Marshall amps, real drums and produced by Byford with Jacky Lehmann recording and mixing, SAXON approach the likes of MOTÖRHEAD's "Bomber" (with added whistle!), AC/DC's "Problem Child", BLACK SABBATH's "Evil Woman" and a raucous DEEP PURPLE's "Speed King" with refreshingly warm, unfiltered, "vintage"-sounding renditions.
"We wanted to do an album based on our influences, the songs and bands that inspired us to write what we did and still do," continued Byford, "and it was also interesting to see what my voice could do as I haven't sung many of these songs before."
Byford does, indeed, take on some new vocal challenges, which he duly smashes on the likes of THIN LIZZY's "The Rocker". The net result is that whether cranking up a heavyweight take on LED ZEPPELIN's "Immigrant Song" or throwing down AC/DC's "Problem Child", SAXON does a supreme job of entertaining both themselves and their audience throughout Inspirations.
"We didn't want to change any of the songs too much, just play them more like SAXON," concluded Byford, "and we also think it's very important to have — and share with the fans — some fun in these dark times."
You want even more proof of the validity behind that statement? Wrap your ears around their sparkling take on TOTO's "Hold The Line" and consider SAXON's "Inspirations" a mission accomplished.
"Inspirations" will be made available on vinyl, CD, digital formats and limited-edition D2C products.
01. Paint It Black
02. Immigrant Song
03. Paperback Writer
04. Evil Woman
05. Stone Free
07. Speed King
08. The Rocker
09. Hold The Line
10. Problem Child
11. See My Friends