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Oliver Dawson Saxon - 'Motorbiker' (Angel Air) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Matt Phelps   
Friday, 16 March 2012 05:00

oliverWhen it comes to icons of the British metal scene the name Saxon is as much part of the Holy Trinity as Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. With classic albums like 'Strong Arm Of The Law' and 'Wheels Of Steel' they helped define a generation and shape an entire genre of music. Two major components from those (Power and the) glory days responsible for some of that success are Graham Oliver and Steve Dawson. Oliver has been out of Saxon now for around seventeen years, Dawson even longer, having quit the crusade back in the mid eighties but still their legacy remains as large as it ever was in the Saxon history books.
 
The pair reunited together outside of Saxon in the early nineties and it's been a staggering eighteen years since then and a hefty twelve years since they finally settled on the name Oliver/Dawson Saxon. Yet surprisingly this new release is their first album of new material in all that time. Having been tangled up with a lengthy and costly legal battle with Biff Byford over rights to the Saxon name the trouble filled years have distracted the pair from the job in hand of knocking out kick ass heavy metal. Finally though the wait is over and Oliver/Dawson Saxon are ready to play it loud in 2012 with 'Motorbiker'.
 
However, 'Chemical Romance' starts the flow slowly and I'll be honest here and say that during this opener I wasn't overly enthused. A steady and solid start but I didn't really hear any of the old magic that made those early Saxon albums so great. Thankfully though the title track is next and kickstarts the real action, 'Motorbiker' sees Oliver's searing solos pushing up the rev counter into speedier territory as Dobby pounds out a rock steady rhythm to back it up. The frontman Graham and Steve have with them, John "Wardi" Ward took me a while to get used to but that's purely because, subconsciously, I kept wishing it was Biff lined up with them. Wardi does a fine job though, he's not there to be tribute singer he puts his own mark on the music and his gnarly vocals put a savage, hungry edge to the tracks. 
 
'Whippin' Boy' cracks open a killer riff, simple and direct it's Oliver of old coursing through the speakers and again there's no mistaking that bass. Those famous moustaches may have long since gone but the feet are most definitely still on the monitors, fists aloft and pumping. This is a blinding track, a real good old fashioned head banger and is a perfect showcase of what Graham and Steve are capable of. For too long this duo have been overshadowed by the drawn out court case with Biff and in many ways they've always been portrayed in the press and chancers just trying to cash in on the Saxon name, but why shouldn't they? As I said they were as equally responsible for that success as Biff and Paul Quinn and judging by this track they've still got just as much to offer. 'Whippin' Boy' really is a case of letting the music do the talking.
 
There's a slight change of direction on 'No Way Out' as it rumbles into action with an absolutely thunderous Rammstein-esque stomp. Oliver raining Germanic riffs of heavy metal thunder alongside hailing drums which were laid down by another old Saxon hand, namely Nigel Durham. Far more clinical and modern sounding than the traditional drive of the title track and 'Whippin' Boy' it shows that this pair are far from one trick ponies.
 
And talking of ponies let's not forget that these two old stallions of the highway had more than a passing influence on the creation of Spinal Tap. There's certainly some Tap like moments on 'Motorbiker' going to prove that some things never change. 'Hell In Helsinki' is a prime example of the slightly cheesier side of lyric writing and offers a multitude of Tap like qualities. A theme based on grounded flights in Finland due to volcanic ash? Don't forget it wasn't so long ago that Oliver and Dawson were complaining that they had nowhere to land their 747, now there's a problem because they can't take off. Some people are never happy....
 
But getting back on track there's some seriously good metal getting revved up on 'Motorbiker'. Graham still has that six string midas touch and with simple riffing structures and memorable melodies during the outstanding solos tracks like 'World's Gone Crazy', 'Ghost' and 'Nevada Beach' show that guitar parts don't have to be Dragonforced to within an inch of their lives to be impressive and effective. On the most part I was hugely impressed by 'Motorbiker', it's far better than I was expecting given the way Oliver/Dawson Saxon have been portrayed over the years. Hopefully this release can go some way towards turning the tide and proving to people that these rock 'n' roll gypsies still have plenty left to give. I mean, they've already given you a lifetime's worth of great tunes so you'll never know what else you're missing if you let 'Motorbiker' pass you by. Remember....Ignorance is no excuse.
 
Standout tracks: 'Whippin' Boy', 'Ghost', 'Nevada Beach'
 
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To pick up your copy of 'Motorbiker' - CLICK HERE