Whenever I listen to metal these days it's mostly Motorhead or Sabbath which disguises the fact that my real metal period was the 1979 to 1981 golden period of the NWOBHM. Last September I did a punk special on this blog where I spent a day playing classic punk albums and passing opinion on them. It was a treat, the six albums I chose were shiny gems, every single one of them. I pondered doing the same today with NWOBHM - sadly some preliminary research revealed that it would be a painful chore of immense proportions. Most of the bands were unbearable and indistinguishable from one another. However, as a nod to my past I've picked one of my fave albums of that time - Saxon's 1980 album Wheels of Steel to represent NWOBHM on Everything's Swirling.
The album starts with an archetypal metal opener - it has chunky riffs, screaming solos, wailed vocals... is about bikers... and is, quite frankly, awesome... not sure it'll get better than this.
I saw Saxon probably half-a-dozen times between '79 and 82 - most memorably a show at the Rainbow in Finsbury Park which included a Hendrix-like guitar sacrifice, male nudity and is one of the few (non-Motorhead) shows from my HM days that sticks with me.
Track three is 747 (Strangers in the Night) ... which is about planes (a later album had a track about steam trains... they liked transport). I think this was a hit. Next up the title track and we're back to motorbikes... it may be all very macho but at least it's sparing the boasts of sexual prowess that I was expecting... or at least disguising it in transport-based euphemism! "She's cruising 140 she can do even more, I'm burning solid rubber, I don't take no bull"
I'm genuinely surprised how familiar I am with the album, and how I mostly don't mind it... but the weakness is Biff's vocal, it's a fairly classic metal delivery but doesn't have anything to lift it beyond that... it is relentlessly metal, which is a shame as the songs are good and the music is suitably heavy and the production fits all that perfectly. Now pop a Paul Di'Anno or a Gillan or an Ozzy on this...
Here's Saxon miming to Wheels of Steel on TOTP in 1980: