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Saxon - Decade Of The Eagle 1979-1988 album review

Album Review

Biff and co’s first golden age of hard rock revisited – once again

Legendary status is a somewhat nebulous concept these days, but it’s easy to spot the real thing – all you have to do is count how many times a band’s back catalogue has been repackaged and reissued.

Currently enjoying a second or possibly even third golden era, Saxon have absolutely no need to trade on past glories and as a result, Decade Of The Eagle should really be swiftly added to the British quintet’s ever-growing pile of compilations and remasters, and never spoken of again. Fans will already own all of this stuff and young newcomers are more likely to find an entry point from the band’s more recent catalogue of great albums.

Ignoring the fact that these are some of the greatest hard rock and metal songs of all time, it’s hard to discern the point of the whole thing in the modern age of streaming and Spotify playlists. But then, out of politeness if nothing else, you crank the bugger up, Stallions Of The Highway bursts out of the speakers and all cynicism melts away.

Primarily culled from the band’s first nine studio albums, Decade Of The Eagle does a great job of compiling the highlights of Saxon’s first ten years and consequently feels more substantial than a standard greatest hits package.

All the usual suspects are here, of course, from ageless anthems like Wheels Of Steel and Heavy Metal Thunder through to worthy deep cuts like Suzie Hold On and The Eagle Has Landed.

A chronological approach brings some welcome cohesion to this collection, and live versions of Motorcycle Man, 20,000 Ft and Fire In The Sky provide a telling glimpse into Saxon’s on-stage prowess during the 1980s. In fact, it’s a near-definitive history lesson, even though it’s hard to imagine any fans of the band needing one at this point.

The first disc is solid gold Ultimately, that’s how the story of Saxon’s rise to glory (and subsequent detour into glam-soiled ignominy) played out, and while you may feel you’ve paid money for Princess Of The Night on more than enough occasions already, this is at least a comprehensive and well-crafted salute to some bona fide living legends.from start to finish (yes, even Big Teaser). However, Saxon didn’t end the 80s in the greatest of shape. The second half of Decade Of The Eagle naturally has some great moments, not least the mighty Crusader. Unfortunately, the two tracks from 1988’s woeful Destiny bring Decade to a rather inauspicious close.

Ultimately, that’s how the story of Saxon’s rise to glory (and subsequent detour into glam-soiled ignominy) played out, and while you may feel you’ve paid money for Princess Of The Night on more than enough occasions already, this is at least a comprehensive and well-crafted salute to some bona fide living legends.

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