REVIEW: The week’s best Rock and Metal albums from Black Sabbath to Saxon and more | Music | Entertainment

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Black Sabbath
Supersonic Years – The Seventies Singles Box Set
(BMG)

★★★★★

Big Brummy bangers Black Sabbath were not only a legendary albums and live act, they also released seminal hit singles during their seventies heyday, too.

Collected here is the band’s entire singles output from their sensational seventies rock years. This superbly crafted box set contains all ten singles released during this era with their original B sides. 

Also included are five rare single edits, ten unique and exclusive ultra-rare colour picture sleeves and informative liner notes.

To kick back and listen to Andy Pearce’s remastering on classic slabs of rock such as Paranoid and Iron Man, transports the listener back to this golden time when heavy rock singles ruled the airwaves. These 7′ pieces of vinyl also provided a valuable trailer for fans to go further and delve deeper into the band’s album repertoire.

An essential limited edition box set that breathes new life into the original Ozzy Osbourne period when this outstanding group ruled the Top 40.

Spock’s Beard
Noise Floor
(Inside Out)

★★★★

Complex, immersive and as melodic as the dawn chorus, Spock’s Beard scratched their collective chins to create a golden seam of absorbing songs on this their thirteenth release.

Blending excellent prog-rock musicianship with scintillating song twists, To Breathe Another Day smashes through the speakers with choppy organ and guitar before racing away through chicanes of superb soloing.

Gothic instrumental Box Of Spiders creepy crawls with menace, showcasing stunning instrumentation from all players.

Included is a Cutting Room Floor EP of four songs that didn’t quite make the jump. All top drawer tracks underlining the very high quality of this superb release.

Saxon
Denim And Leather, Power & The Glory, Crusader
(BMG)

★★★★

This latest holy trinity of remastered metal releases, forged by these Barnsley belters, completes a triple trilogy of Saxon’s early recorded albums. They all come with bonus tracks and live recordings, too.

Originally released in 1981, Saxon’s fourth album sold by the bucket load and still remains on all metal fan’s bucket list. It spawned three hit singles including And The Bands Played On, inspired by their appearance at The Monsters Of Rock Festival. CD bonus live tracks from their 1981 tour completes this pioneering re-release.

A slew of early demos is a revealing addition that opens a window into Saxon’s working methods on this re-release of Power & The Glory.

Recorded in Atlanta, USA there’s a rock-radio feel to the finished tracks. The title song itself fared very well on the singles charts. But it’s the album’s solid body of songs that still power through. 

Recorded at the legendary Sound City Studios in Los Angeles, Crusader moved the band away from their identifiable raw recorded sound to a more glossier production. In doing so, it opened up the American market whilst scoring top of the charts status across Europe.

Remember, this was the mid-eighties when production was big, bold and shiny. This remaster adjusts the glare and a cover of Sweet’s Set Me Free plus early working versions of the songs still carry the flag with a fist-pumping pride.

All three releases are also available in highly collectable splattered colour vinyl.

Barclay James Harvest
(Esoteric/Cherry Red)

★★★★

Veteran British Proggers BJH has sold in excess of ten million records worldwide, but this release spools back to their very beginnings on this their inaugural album. 

Jingling loud and clear with bells and whistles extras, this four-disc set also features an additional thirty-three bonus tracks including rare BBC sessions from 1968 and 1971.

The pumping groove of Taking Some Time On bounces firmly along on this redux, revealing tight interplay by all players. The Heath Robinson audio feel of Mellotron on The Iron Maiden and twelve-minute epic Dark Now My Sky remain progressive classics, but beautifully buffed up on this superb release.

However, the pastoral delicacies of Mother Dear and the softer rock on Good Love Child displayed an early breadth of liminal writing skills. Something that the band explored to perfection on their subsequent massive selling albums.



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