Saxon – Greatest Hits Live! (Review)

Saxon - Greatest Hits Live! (1990)
Saxon – Greatest Hits Live! (1990)

Greatest Hits Live! captures Saxon on the upswing following the doldrums of their disappointing Destiny album and tour. Frontman Biff Byford had taken over their management, securing a well-received support slot with Manowar that galvanised the group. Saxon then launched a European headlining tour in 1990 to celebrate 10 Years of Denim & Leather* and the UK leg was such a success that the band added another run of UK gigs later in the year. They played more than 40 shows in the UK alone, winning much-needed acclaim and credibility in their homeland. The Nottingham show was recorded and released as Saxon’s third live album.

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Unlike its two predecessors, The Eagle Has Landed and Rock N’ Roll Gypsies, Greatest Hits Live! offers a full** Saxon live set, living up to its title. It’s bulging with classics (Wheels of Steel, (747) Strangers in the Night, Princess of the Night, And the Bands Played On), hard-hitting metal bangers from the early days (Motorcycle Man, 20,000ft and Heavy Metal Thunder) and well-chosen newer material (a bouncy Rock N’ Roll Gypsy and a tougher take on Ride Like the Wind). There are some mid-set surprises too with a captivating Frozen Rainbow and an absolutely phenomenal version of See the Light Shining. And just to put the icing on the cake: the classic tracks Denim and Leather and Crusader finally make their live album debuts.

The Tracklist
The Tracklist

Greatest Hits Live! is an honest and energetic live album that drives home the quality of Saxon’s material and the celebratory vibe of the tour. On the evidence here, it’s no surprise that they won over audiences up and down the country. However, through all their ups-and-downs, Saxon’s live prowess was never in doubt. If they were going to have a future they’d have to produce new material that lived up to the glorious past celebrated here. Buoyed by the enthusiastic reception from their UK fans, Saxon rushed back into the studio. The comeback was on.

*Biff announces “we’ve been together for 10 years” but their debut album was released in 1979 so in 1990 they were a year out. Instead, the liner notes proclaim that the 10 years refer to the anniversary of their 1980 breakthrough with Wheels of Steel. But then they called it “10 Years of Denim & Leather” after an album that was nine years old.

**One song is missing. The show was also released on VHS and the set included Strong Arm of the Law. I’ll let them off though.

Mah copy
Mah copy

[Saxon – See the Light Shining]

28 thoughts on “Saxon – Greatest Hits Live! (Review)”

  1. Cool Bounce Back for Biff and crew! Over here back in 1990 Saxon were non existent as far as press went. Good to see them still slogging it out back than with a career resurgence !
    Neat set list as well and a great well written recap HMO….

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This is a cool album Deke, you’d dig it. It was trying to crack the US that led to them losing the plot. I think they had the right idea and just gave up on that at this point.

      Maybe didn’t hurt that there were hard rock acts like Thunder happening in the UK at this point either. It was a good time for them to get back to basics.


  2. I think there should be a proper parliamentary enquiry about the disparity in all the dates you highlight. How are the general public supposed to have any trust in spandex-clad rockers if they’re so cavalier about stats?

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Perhaps it’s like the confusion in school where the teacher says on Monday, “it’s due in 3 days” – does that mean Wednesday (Mon, Tues, Wed) or mathematically Thursday (4th day of week – 1st day of Week = 3 days)?

        I suppose the album title “10 years of Denim & Leather (10 years including the year of release, rather than 9 calendar years following its release)” was deemed to chatty by the label!

        Liked by 2 people

      1. I haven’t counted, but I don’t think you’re too far off the mark, with that number! Weird thing is, I’ve listened to all of those Stones records for years, and am only now getting around to trying to write about them. Go figure…

        But I will get to Saxon, I promise! Man, it’s another one of those Unlimited Funds situations. Given the resources and the listening time, I’d be all over so many bands!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Wow, it’s tidbits like that that I love. I know you go more for the metal and other things, but 4 Stones records? That’s really something!

        OK I wanna guess which four:

        Beggars Banquet
        Let It Bleed
        Sticky Fingers
        Exile On Main Street

        At least, I’m hoping for you that those are your four. That series of records was untouchable!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Me too! Although I own Exile on vinyl… twice. I have an old original ’72 copy (postcards intact!). It’s the one in my Gravatar. And I have the boxed set from the remaster with the 2LP and CDs and book. I also own Exile more than once on CD, the old original and the 2CD remaster…


      Liked by 1 person

  3. I need this one, I reckon. I have a couple of the live albums (I think it’s the three ‘Eagle’ albums), but they’re a tad patchy and I haven’t really been all that taken by them. I’m willing to overlook they’re blatant disregard for Time and get to getting. Dare say I could find this cheap enough, huh?

    You going to see them in October?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not got my ticket yet but yes! You?

      This would be a good one to get. Ticks all the boxes! Don’t know about cheap though, been out of print for a while… It was going to get reissued a while back but it never happened in the end for some reason.


      1. I haven’t, no. Think I’m gonna hold off and see how I’m placed nearer the time.

        As for this one, disappointed that it’s not been reissued. Maybe they weren’t happy with the blatant disregard for Time. Not one I’m likely to spot, then … bah.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. I bought all the albums on vinyl up until Innocence but it was always Wheels of Steel and Denim and Leather that I played over and over. Really enjoyed the latest album though so I definitely need to do more exploring of back catalogue.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Cool, it’s all stuff you’ll know on this then. Only one song that is post-Innocence. I’ve been loving their recent stuff too. I’ve got all their albums but there is some stuff from the 90s and early 2000s that I’m not as familiar with so I’m hoping I’ll discover some gems there as I go along.


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