Oliver Dawson Saxon Screaming Eagles: The Complete Works 6CD Box Set Review

Oliver Dawson Saxon Screaming Eagles: The Complete Works 6CD Box Set Review


Back in the early and mid 70s, there was a blues rock group called SOB (after Free’s Tons Of Sobs), featuring guitarist Graham Oliver and bassist Steve Dawson, and a more progressive rock band called Coast, featuring guitarist Paul Quinn and bassist / vocalist Biff Byford. They came together for form Son Of A Bitch, and quickly changed their name to Saxon, with drummer Pete Gill. One of the front runners of the NWoBHM, they are (in quite a changed form) still going. Strong.
The changes along the way include the departure of Steve Dawson (mid 80s) and Graham Oliver (mid 90s). They would soon combine forces, and for over a decade tour and record as Oliver Dawson Saxon. And this very fine set (via Cherry Red) collects pretty much (but not quite) everything. And a marvellous listen it is too.

The pair’s first post Saxon project was a resurrection of the name Son Of A Bitch, who released the album Victim You, in 1996, which is disc 5 here. It has been reissued, with extra tracks, but both releases are far from common so it’s great to have it here. Alongside Graham and Steve were guitarist Haydn Conway, vocalist Ted Bullet and original Saxon (and onetime Motorhead) drummer Pete Gill. An album full of riffs and some seriously rocking (and rough’n’ready in places) metal. It gave a decade otherwise full of alternative, nu and grunge metal hope. And nice that here the album includes Running Away, a Japanese bonus track.
Then, after a court case over the band name (about as unnecessary as the bad blood that followed), the band went out as Oliver/Dawson Saxon.
In 2007 I interviewed Paul Quinn and Nibbs Carter of Saxon and both had heard and enjoyed the album Victim You, it was that good.

In the 00s, Oliver Dawson Saxon featured vocalist John Ward and former Saxon drummer Nigel Durham alongside Oliver, Conway and Dawson, and the band released two live sets, both here. And wonderful and a great listen, if you’re a Saxon fan. Both sets concentrate on the early Saxon material, up to and including Innocence Is No Excuse (Dawson’s last album with the band). While there are many who love this early period, and it’s (in most cases) good to hear them live, there are tracks (I include Wheels Of Steel and 747 in this) that have become so overplayed, so replied upon. I’d gladly see them dropped for other tracks in the consistent and strong catalogue, Any original bonus tracks are included, but the DVD releases are not.

With vocalist Bri Shaughness and drummer Paul (Graham’s son) Oliver, the band released the new album Motorbiker in 2012 which sees a change in direction. Opening track Chemical Romance is a vert heavy, crunchy 90s metal track, doomy and solid. A modern update to trad metal comes over in the title track. Things get heavier, then the power ballad (if you can call it that) of Just Another Suicide, a deep, sad and meaningful song. Nice contrast. Much more embracing of their contemporaries than previous releases, and a strong album too.
There’s a couple of riffs reminiscent to Black Album era Metallica, beefed up to 11.

The band released one more live album (a couple of new tracks but still reliant on the early Saxon material).

The last disc is a compilation of the two solo albums issued by Graham and Steve (one each). Again, both great listens and well worth searching out in full.

The solo and two studio albums are proof that this band were too good to be over reliant on covers on stage.

I love Saxon, always have done, and I love Oliver Dawson Saxon too. Both Graham and Steve are great players, and it shows here. They’re lovely guys, too. I’ve interviewed Graham several times, including twice for sleevenotes for the original releases. Much (if not all) of the material was previously issued by Angel Air, and is now hard to find. This is a great and nicely packaged (6 discs in card sleeves, clamshell box, booklet with comments from Graham Oliver) round up of (almost) all of it. Essential listening.
Only the complete solo albums and the DVD material, and maybe more notes in the booklet, would complete the icing on the cake.

Joe Geesin | Now Spinning Magazine

Oliver Dawson Saxon Screaming Eagles: The Complete Works 6CD Box Set Reviewed

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