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Standing the Test of Time. HARD - 85%

DeathRiderDoom, January 18th, 2010

#35 In My NWOBHM Rarities Review Series

This great little single, available in several versions features as the title cut ‘And the Bands Played On’, a fan favourite (and one of my early obsessions) that has become a frequent part of their live set for 30 years! In the true Saxon tradition, this cut is a rebellious number, about living the heavy metal lifestyle and sounds tough, and damn convictive. When Saxon writes a song about rockin’ out, they damn well mean it, and it’s far better than even the respectable Twisted Sister’s tracks dealing with this theme. In fact, ill go so far as to say Saxon writes some of the most badass tracks about rockin out. ‘Hungry Years’ is a gritty, though more straightforward rocker that would go on to feature on ‘Strong Arm of the Law’ (in two versions if you get the expanded re-release). Another strong churn-out here from Saxon, and very collectable.

The title track couldn’t kick any more asses if it tried. The cool scaley main riff will burn itself into your brain, and is heavily conducive to drunken air-guitar. This scaley riff naturally builds into the exceptional guitar lead section, which is passionate and really pushes through the subject matter. The classic lineup of Paul Quinn & Graham Oliver on Guitar here produces a stunning series of harmonies, and switch overs, with that cool locked in feel on rhythms, which is seldom paralleled by any in NWOBHM, but a central part of the powerful Saxon sound. This cool rhythmic feel is helped along by the capable bass skills of Dawson, and the crashing, thundering skin-pounding of one Pete Gill, who featured on some of their greatest works. The subject matter here is familiar, but here is handled in a different way. While Blind Fury wrote similar stuff about Masters of Metal, this was a couple of years later, and handled it completely differently. As did Handsome Beasts with their cut ‘One of the Crowd’. The Saxon track is the standout of the bunch, and the one that has stood the test of time. A solid 30 year fan favourite for a reason – it rocks incredibly hard.