In a new interview with Sonic Perspectives, Saxon frontman Biff Byford spoke about the band’s new covers album, Inspirations.
On the importance of these songs, Byford said, “I think every song has a bit of a story to it. Sometimes the song inspired us some times it was the bands who inspired us. They paved the long road to fame and fortune or not [laughing]. It’s not just a cover album; every song is linked to Saxon and the members in some way and what we have become today.”
Saxon loudly continue unveiling their Inspirations covers project with second single, “Speed King”, Deep Purple’s classic tune from their 1970 album Deep Purple In Rock.
“Without ‘Speed King’ there would be no ‘Motorcycle Man’,” said Biff Byford when explaining the importance of the song on Saxon’s early career ascendance. “I love the attitude, energy and driving speed of this song, not to mention those screaming vocals! I’d never sung it before, and I had great fun with it!”
Watch the “Speed King” video below:
“Speed King” is part of Saxon’s forthcoming 11-track Inspirations album, where in 2020 the band took residence at Brockfield Hall in York, UK, to record cover versions of various songs which deeply influenced the band, engaging in a proper old-school live and recording process which was a hallmark of many old-school rock ‘n’ roll records.
Inspirations was produced by Biff Byford with Jacky Lehmann engineering and will be released through Silver Lining Music on March 19. Inspirations is available on Vinyl, CD, digital formats and limited edition D2C products; to pre-order head here.
Inspirations was recorded at Brockfield Hall near York in the UK, which was built in 1804 and holds the largest collection of paintings by Yorkshire’s impressionist artists – the Staithes Group. For Byford, recording Inspirations all together within such a rich historical environment was a major ingredient of the project.
“The warmth and feel of Inspirations had so much to do with being together in this magnificent place and doing it ‘old-school’ style,” Byford explains. “This is how many bands back in the day -including some of the ones covered here- made such great albums, so it just felt really good to be able to do this somewhere like Brockfield Hall.”
The results speak for themselves.
From the super-charged melodic romp of The Beatles’ “Paperback Writer” to their freeway mad take on Jimi Hendrix’s “Stone Free”, Saxon show their love and appreciation with a series of faithful, raw and ready tributes. Maintaining a firm eye on the old school way using Marshall cabs, Marshall amps, real drums and produced by Biff Byford with Jacky Lehmann recording and mixing, Saxon approach the likes of Motörhead’s “Bomber” (with added whistle!), AC/DC’s “Problem Child”, Black Sabbath’s “Evil Woman” and a raucous Deep Purple’s “Speed King” with refreshingly warm, unfiltered, “vintage” sounding renditions.
“We wanted to do an album based on our influences, the songs and bands that inspired us to write what we did and still do,” continues Byford, “and it was also interesting to see what my voice could do as I haven’t sung many of these songs before.”
Byford does, indeed, take on some new vocal challenges, which he duly smashes on the likes of Thin Lizzy’s “The Rocker”. The net result is that whether cranking up a heavyweight take on Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” or throwing down AC/DC’s “Problem Child”, Saxon does a supreme job of entertaining both themselves and their audience throughout Inspirations.
“We didn’t want to change any of the songs too much, just play them more like Saxon,” concludes Byford, “and we also think it’s very important to have -and share with the fans- some fun in these dark times.”
You want even more proof of the validity behind that statement? Wrap your ears around their sparkling take on Toto’s “Hold The Line” and consider Saxon’s Inspirations a mission accomplished.
“Paint It Black”
“Hold The Line”
“See My Friends”
“Paint It Black” video: