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Oliver/Dawson Saxon
Its Alive
July 2003
Released: 2003, Angel Air Records
Rating: 2.5/5
Reviewer: Rick

As many of you may or may not know Saxon fronted by Biff Byford and Saxon fronted by Graham Oliver and Steve Dawson have been waging an intense battle for the last few years regarding which camp has the right to use the name Saxon. Even though there was a decision in the case in march which basically left the name in the hands of the Byford fronted Saxon, Oliver/Dawson have released this disc which consists of live versions of old Saxon and Son of a Bitch songs. The duo of Dawson: bass, Oliver: guitar are joined by John Ward (Shy, Hurricane): vocals, Hayden Conway: guitars and Nigel Durham: drums.



Opening the release is the classic track “Power and the Glory” from the 1983 album of the same name. The song is played perfectly and I would expect nothing less from a group of guys who consider themselves as “sharing” the Saxon name with Biff Byford’s unit. “Rock n’ Roll Gypsies” follows with a groovier track that is often overlooked in the band’s massive back catalogue. The first of the Son of a Bitch tunes is “Past the Point”, a revved up track that could pass for a regular Saxon song any day. In fact I have my doubts whether this disc was recorded live at all. There are no crowd noises to be heard even in the slower parts of “The Eagle has Landed”and the band makes no mistakes. The whole recording sounds like it was done in the studio and not in front of a live audience. What live Saxon recording would be complete without a version of “Wheels of Steel”, one of my favourite Saxon tracks. The one surprise is the new track “One More For the Road” an adrenaline pumping track that brims with double bass work attitude but is found lacking when placed against the classic Saxon tunes that are its neighbours on the this release.



The thing I keep thinking when I listen to this CD is “this is a great cover band”. They sound like Saxon but without Biff Byford the difference is perceptible. Ward has a lower voice than Byford and can’t reach the same heights that Biff can. This gives the songs a different sound and takes away that “Saxon” feel. “One More for the Road” is a weak song and if Oliver/Dawson Saxon feel that they “share” the Saxon name they should be prepared to release quality material that can hold its own against the outstanding material that the Byford fronted Saxon have been releasing in the last 6 or 7 years.
Track Listing

01.Power And The Glory
02.Rock And Roll Gypsies 03.Strong Arm Of The Law
04.Past The Point
05.Dallas 1PM
06.747 (Strangers In the Night)
07.The Eagle Has Landed
08.Bitch Of A Place To Be
09.One More For The Road
10.Motorcycle Man
11.Wheels Of Steel
12.Devil Rides Out

Lineup

Steve Dawson: bass
Graham Oliver: guitar
John Ward: vocals
Hayden Conway: guitars
Nigel Durham: drums.


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