Samson-Bright Lights: The Albums 1979-1981

Reviewed: October, 2019

Released: Year, Cherry Red / HNE, 2019

Rating:  4.5 of 5

Reviewer: JP


I’m really loving the box-set reissue of campaign that Cherry Red and HNE are conducting these past couple of years.  Alcatrazz, Killer, Glenn Hughes, Raven…Riot on deck and this most recent set… Samson.

Housed in the now familiar clam-shell box, this five CD set covers all the bases of the early years, with five cardboard sleeves.  There is a big foldout poster with pictures, credit and an essay by NWOBHM expert, John Tucker, who always seem to heed the call to write these things from that era.  BRIGHTS LIGHTS  covers the prolific 1979-1981 era and has three, five or six albums…depend on how you classify.  I’ll deeper into some semantics of the catalogue in a minute.

Sometimes these box-sets, not this series in particular but any box-set compilation, can live or die based on the quality and quantity of bonus material.  I’m pleased to announce that BRIGHT LIGHTS is utterly packed with bonus stuff.  If you were a fan like me and just bought the regular pressings then there are a massive 29 bonus tracks in one form or another.

As alluded to earlier there are many ways you ‘count’ these albums.

1.   SURVIVORS, HEAD ON and SHOCK TACTICS =three albums.

2.   SURVIVORS (with Paul on vocals), SURVIVORS  (with Bruce on vocals, HEAD ON (original mix), HEAD ON (Tony Platt mix) and SHOCK TACTICS = five albums

3…or if you count the live albums in a bands catalogue, (some do, some don’t…I don’t personally) then with the inclusion of LIVE AT READING that could be six albums!

No matter how you count it, there is a wealth of material on here. It is the first time the Tony Platt mix has been on CD and there are lots of alternate versions, radio edits and so on.

I suppose that no review of the band Samson, in the history of mankind has failed to mention that, yes, former vocalist Bruce did eventually join a little band called Iron Maiden. It is fun to hear his early work, the re-interpretations of him singing the songs from the debut and also hear his evolution even in a few shorts years from ’79 to 81.  He hadn’t quite developed his operatic signature style yet, but you can hear his more natural voice that you heard more readily on the Bruce Dickinson solo albums.   The album is packed with great quintessential NWOBHM tunes and all sounds great.  I feel you probably have to be a bit of an audiophile to hear any significant different in the two mixes of HEAD ON, but true fans will notice the differences.  I regained an appreciation for tracks like ‘Go To Hell’ and ‘Vice Versa’ again.

I especially appreciate this in my collection because Samson stuff was quite hard to find in Canada for some reason, especially on cassette so I really needed an upgrade to CD quality and fill a few gaps. BRIGHT LIGHTS fits the bill perfectly as an introduction to the band for new fans or a mandatory addition to the library for the die-hard fan.


Track listing:

DISC ONE
SURVIVORS (1979)

1. IT’S NOT AS EASY AS IT SEEMS
2. I WISH I WAS THE SADDLE OF A SCHOOLGIRL’S BIKE
3. BIG BROTHER
4. TOMORROW OR YESTERDAY
5. KOZ
6. SIX FOOT UNDER
7. INSIDE OUT
8. WRONG SIDE OF TIME
BONUS TRACKS
9. MR ROCK ‘N’ ROLL
10. PRIMROSE SHUFFLE
ALTERNATIVE RECORDINGS WITH
BRUCE DICKINSON ON VOCALS:
11. IT’S NOT AS EASY AS IT SEEMS
12. I WISH I WAS THE SADDLE OF A SCHOOLGIRL’S BIKE
13. BIG BROTHER
14. TOMORROW OR YESTERDAY
15. SIX FOOT UNDER
16. INSIDE OUT
17. WRONG SIDE OF TIME

DISC TWO
HEAD ON (1980)

1. HARD TIMES
2. TAKE IT LIKE A MAN
3. VICE VERSA
4. MANWATCHER
5. TOO CLOSE TO ROCK
6. THUNDERBURST
7. HAMMERHEAD
8. HUNTED
9. TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER
10. WALKING OUT ON YOU
BONUS TRACKS
11. ANGEL WITH A MACHINE GUN (7″ B-SIDE)
12. KINGSWAY JAM
13. VICE VERSA (7” EDIT)

DISC THREE
HEAD ON: TONY PLATT ALTERNATIVE MIX (1980)

PREVIOUSLY UNAVAILABLE ON CD

1. HARD TIMES
2. TAKE IT LIKE A MAN
3. VICE VERSA
4. MANWATCHER
5. TOO CLOSE TO ROCK
6. THUNDERBURST
7. HAMMERHEAD
8. HUNTED
9. TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER
10. WALKING OUT ON YOU
BONUS TRACK
11. HARD TIMES (7” VERSION)

DISC FOUR
SHOCK TACTICS (1981)

1. RIDING WITH THE ANGELS
2. EARTH MOTHER
3. NICE GIRL
4. BLOOD LUST
5. GO TO HELL
6. BRIGHT LIGHTS
7. ONCE BITTEN
8. GRIME CRIME
9. COMMUNION
BONUS TRACKS
10. LITTLE BIG MAN (7″ B-SIDE)
11. PYRAMID TO THE STARS
12. LOSING MY GRIP

DISC FIVE
LIVE AT READING (1981)

1. BIG BROTHER
2. TAKE IT LIKE A MAN
3. NICE GIRL
4. EARTH MOTHER
5. VICE VERSA
6. BRIGHT LIGHTS
7. WALKING OUT ON YOU
8. HAMMERHEAD
9. RIDING WITH THE ANGELS
10. GRAVY TRAIN
BONUS TRACK REHEARSALS
11. RED SKIES
12. TURN OUT THE LIGHTS
13. FIRING LINE


www.cherryred.co.uk/product/samson-bright-lights-the-albums-1979-1981-5cd-boxset-with-poster/

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