SAXON – Innocence Is No Excuse (Re-Release)

SAXON - Innocence Is No Excuse (Re-Release)
  • 7/10
    SAXON - Innocence Is No Excuse (Re-Release) - 7/10


Release date: January 29, 2010

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0/10 (0 votes)

The seventh album marks, together with the other two re-releases Rock The Nation and Destiny, the all time low in the Saxon discography for many fans. When listening to the albums, the reason for that becomes clear, as with the label change to EMI the sound became more commercial. But it was not only the new label responsible for that, as some tunes from the predecessor Crusader, especially the single “Sailing To America”, bear witness to. So, did Saxon become soft?

Yes and no. No, because the songs on Innocence Is No Excuse are unmistakably SAXON, just without the heavy riffing of the early albums, but softer songs have been found on those, too. Yes, because the good production, surely due to the new major label deal, makes everything sound mellow. So was it a surprise that fans were astonished when the album came out? It should not have been. And the same goes for the lukewarm reception of the album in the Metal press. But the album has been the biggest chart success in the US for Saxon, which in a way proves them right in taking this step.

But that was not a completely voluntary step, no conscious search for a new audience. As singer Biff explains in the liner notes, bass player Steve Dawson and himself wrote most of the songs during the lawsuit against their former label Carrere which had the band hanging in limbo. That explains the chord driven tracks and the few remarkable heavy riffs on the album. Still, Innocence Is No Excuse contains enough strong Saxon tunes to still be liked and which were part of their live sets for a long time, including the two singles “Back On The Streets” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll Gypsy”. The album may not be a career highlight for the band, but still is a decent release.

What makes the re-release worth having is the bonus tracks. Sure, the club mix version of “Back On The Streets” will only make fans raise their eyebrows, but the two single B-sides “Live Fast Die Young” and “Krakatoa” are the crunchiest, most old Saxon like tunes on the album. It may have been producer Somon Hanhart, or it may have been EMI, who decided to not take those two songs for the album. In any way, it is great to be able to get those for one’s collection now.

In addition there is a bunch of live tracks. A total of three songs from Innocence Is No Excuse can be found as live versions, but the highlight is a medley of “Heavy Metal Thunder”, “Stand Up And Be Counted”, “Taking Your Chances” und “Warrior” that reflects the band’s mellower approach to music, because although the nine minute medley is very entertaining, the connoisseur notices immediately that the two faster tracks have been slowed down a bit. Maybe to fit to the other two song fragments, but maybe also to fit better to the picture the band had about the direction to go. After a handful of Metal albums, it was time to try something new, and they did. Today it is common knowledge that it was only a brief period before Saxon returned to Metal, but it is interesting to recapture the way of the British band step by step with these re-releases from Metal to Hard Rock and back to Metal.

This is a decent album with good bonus tracks and a piece of musical history, shedding a light on the way any bands from the NWoBHM took after the initial riot was over. Saxon fans need to have it, everybody else will probably want to start at the beginning and buy this one as the – well, seventh album for their collection. And then continue on with Rock The Nations and Destiny. By by all means, do not leave these out.


  • Frank Jaeger

    Frank was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio, based out of Bavaria, Germany. He has worked in the games industry for more than 20 years, now on the manufacturing side, before on the publishing end. Before this, he edited and handled the layout for a city mag in northern Germany ... maybe that is why he love being part of anything published. Frank got hooked on Metal at the age of 14 when a friend introduced him to AC/DC. They were listening to The Beatles, Madness, and The Police, and he decided they should move on. Well, they did, Back in Black became Frank's first Metal album, and since Germany is reasonably close to England, they had some small New Waves Of British Heavy Metal washing up on their shores: Tygers Of Pan Tang, Samson, Gillan, Iron Maiden, Saxon, Sweet Savage, Diamond Head, etc. If he had to pick his favorite styles, Prog and Power Metal would be at the top of the list.

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