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Unplugged And Strung Up
May 2014
Released: 2013, UDR
Rating: 3.0/5
Reviewer: JP

This record came out late last year (2013) with little fan-fare. It is Saxon’s second re-make album. Not much has changed in the past few months, no line-up changes and they are still on the same label. The booklet is well done with a nice nature scene motif with a red butterfly theme. It’s a bit odd but nice to look at as is the cover art with a clever visual to link to the album title UNPLUGGED AND STRUNG UP.

I have always enjoyed hearing different versions of different songs and this is no different. ‘Frozen Rainbow’ sounds great and so does ‘Requiem’ both deserving of an acoustic treatment. The orchestral stuff I was a little disappointed in. I suspect that maybe there was not a real orchestra playing the parts and there may have been some ‘studio magic’ by a gentlemen by the name of Matthius Ulmer who is credited with doing ‘all orchestration’. If a real, live symphony was present or not, it does not diminish my enjoyment of the sonic representations but the orchestra seemed a bit thin and mixed a little far back. I’d like to hear something a bit more bombastic and with some flourish, rather than just little string sections dropped in here and there. The track-listing is great, a nice mix of old and new, rare and more popular songs, leaning towards lesser-known songs. I was very pleased to see a deep track like ‘Broken Heroes’ from INNOCENCE IS NO EXCUSE get called off the bench and put in the match. Perhaps they did lean a little heavily on the debut with three of the seven songs form the debut getting revisited here.

One thing puzzled me. It is supposed to be an acoustic/symphonic album, why are there five electric versions of songs? What is the point? Perhaps the band wanted to add some firepower to the track-list so it would not be too mellow. Four of the electric songs are re-recorded and one is remixed. There seems to be a bit of a misprint or omission on the back cover where the songs ‘Battle Cry’ (from ROCK THE NATIONS, 1986) and ‘Militia Guard’ (from SAXON, 1979) are not credited as re-recorded versions, but according to the fine print in the liner notes they were re-recorded by Charlie Bauerfield. So to break it all down the album has …

-1 remixed song

-4 re-recorded electric songs

-5 orchestral versions

-3 acoustic songs

-1 live, acoustic song

This is a nice collectible and a companion piece to HEAVY METAL THUNDER. In fact some versions have HEAVY METAL THUNDER included as a bonus disc. As is always the case with these re-make albums you have to ask yourself, how much do you like the band to begin with and what is your tolerance of remakes in general. For me, I love Saxon and I like remakes so UNPLUGGED AND STRUNG UP is certainly worth buying.
Track Listing

1. Stallions of the Highway (Remix)
2. Crusader (Orchestrated Version)
3. Battle Cry (Re-recorded)
4. The Eagle Has Landed (Orchestrated Version)
5. Red Stall Falling (Orchestrated Version)
6. Broken Heroes (Orchestrated Version)
7. Call to Arms (Orchestrated Version)
8. Militia Guard (Re-recorded)
9. Forever Free (Re-recorded)
10. Just Let Me Rock (Re-recorded)
11. Frozen Rainbow (Acoustic)
12. Iron Wheels (Live Acoustic)
13. Requiem (Acoustic)
14. Coming Home (Acoustic)


Biff Byford Vocals
Paul Quinn Guitars
Nibbs Carter Bass
Nibbs Carter Bass
Doug Scarratt Drums

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