Saxon – Rock N’ Roll Gypsies (Review)

Saxon had lost their way with the dicey Destiny album. Dropped from EMI in 1988, they took a creative break. For the next couple of years their activity was restricted to touring and the release of a couple of live albums through one-off record deals. The first of these, recorded on a tour of Eastern Europe, was 1989’s Rock N’ Roll Gypsies.

The main historical interest is the new lineup: Nigel Glockler makes a welcome return to the drum stool and bassist Timothy ‘Nibbs’ Carter makes his Saxon debut. There’s no song duplication with their previous live album, 1982’s The Eagle Has Landed, and none of that album’s sweaty, beery atmosphere. But it kicks off very promisingly indeed. The band sound driving and ballsy and thunder through Power and the Glory, And the Bands Played On, Rock the Nations and a superb Dallas 1PM, only slipping up on a sleepy version of Broken Heroes. The next side kicks off with a rousing Battle Cry before things start to go pear-shaped. The patchiness of the band’s EMI years rears its ugly head as Rock N’ Roll Gypsy, Northern Lady and I Can’t Wait Anymore progressively suck more and more life out of the album: the excitement level dropping so low that the kinetic closer This Town Rocks barely registers.

CD editions add quality and value with bonus tracks The Eagle Has Landed and Just Let Me Rock but, all in all, Rock N’ Roll Gypsies is a solid but unremarkable live stop-gap. The lack of song duplication with The Eagle…  is a double-edged sword. It’s more collectable and interesting to hear different songs but the feel of a live Saxon show is hampered when there’s no Wheels of Steel or Strong Arm of the Law. And given the lack of concert classics, the omission of Crusader (one of the band’s most triumphant post-1982 songs) is unforgivable. Great performances, dodgy tracklisting. The faltering steps of a great band finding its feet again.

22 thoughts on “Saxon – Rock N’ Roll Gypsies (Review)”

  1. Man, it sucks when bands go Pear Shape! Your being too kind sir! More like Sheeit! Hahahaha…nice after Supper Saturday Read at HMO HQ’s …
    Good stuff but Yep when your a true fan with time and a ton of money invested you keep buying even in the lean yrs hoping the next one is a good one….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s still a decent album… if you’re like me and have to them all, especially! It’s weird though: this was their second live album and they STILL didn’t think to put ‘Denim & Leather’ on it! What’s up with that?! Most bands would give their right nuts to have a song that good and Saxon don’t even think to put it on their live albums.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah for sure…..than its more of a sell when you put your popular tracks on…
        Kiss whores the same songs on their live albums and I still buy them….? I need help!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. So I’m assuming “Crusader” was still being played at concerts and was probably be recorded, but not included because somebody had a head up their behind?

    Terrible album cover too. Looks like the smoke monster from an original series Star Trek.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a shite cover for sure. They would have been playing Crusader at the time… It makes it on to the next live one! I think they were probably trying to make this more like a hits album. 7 of the tracks on it were songs that were released as singles.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I somehow missed this post. Oversiiiiight! But never fear, I am here now with something pithy and insightful to say… um… when I saw Gypsies in the title all I could think of was the movie Snatch?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Alright, alright, a proper comment! First off, the (now traditional) admition from me that I still haven’t gotten to Saxon yet. Alas. But it doesn’t really sound like this live album would be the place to jup in. I like that it has all different tracks and leaves off the hits, that’s cool. Maybe you could treat the two together as a 2CD set? Would that help?

    Liked by 1 person

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