Any time I write about David Coverdale and Whitesnake I’m tempted to throw in a few knob gags. But I’m not going to because All In The Name Of Love is a heartfelt, serious Cov effort with The Gov feeling the post-Tawny blues and singing about it in soulful fashion. The woman troubles bring out the Free/Bad Company in his voice, which is where he’s at his best, especially when he lets loose on the wonderful bridge and closing choruses. Although it’s a bit smooth and MOR in production, I reckon this would have fit nicely on old beergut-era Whitesnake albums like Trouble and Lovehunter. It’s got a warm sound with a lovely bluesy guitar solo and a big throbbing organ underneath.
Unleash The Beast, Saxon’s thirteenth studio album and the first to feature the band’s current line-up, finds the band dialling up the kind of heaviness previously hinted at on older tracks like Altar Of The Gods, Battle Cry and Dogs Of War.
As usual for Saxon, this 1997 album’s big classic is the title-track: a brilliant thrasher with a chorus hewn from pure gold. But the harder edge comes at the expense of the band’s usual chemistry and charisma. The serious mood fits songs like the dark, grooving Cut Out The Disease and the moody, slow-burner The Preacher. But songs like Ministry Of Fools and The Thin Red Line fall strangely flat when they should be uplifting. The driving Terminal Velocity, uncannily catchy Circle Of Light and vigorously rowdy All Hell’s Breaking Loose inject much-needed sparks of excitement but can’t quite lift the album into the classic zone.
Its po-faced proficiency makes it one to appreciate rather than love but Saxon’s consistency and focus impresses and this was a crucial album for them. As well as unleashing the beast, they ushered in a new era, finding a style and purpose that would restore their credibility and serve them well for years to come. The story of modern Saxon starts here.
Strangely, for a band renowned for their live show and their tinnitus-inducing black wind of volume, it took a long time for Manowar to release a live album. Released in 1997, the New Yorkers’ long-awaited debut live release Hell On Wheels couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointing.
Selected from multiple dates, the album does a fine job of capturing Manowar’s punishingly loud live sound, with vocalist Eric Adams fighting to be heard amongst the din. It kicks off in powerful style with the iconic Orson Welles intro and the perennial Manowar. Fan faves like Kill With Power follow suit but the ill-conceived grouping of guitar solo, piano interlude and the cheesy ballad Courage kills the momentum too early in the proceedings. The superb Blood Of My Enemies and Hail And Kill put the show back on a triumphant track but Joey DeMaio’s overlong bass solo Black Arrows soon arrives to spoil the fun. With less time-wasting and mighty classics like Thor (The Powerhead) and Battle Hymn, the album’s second half is more enjoyable but there’s too much representation from 1996’s disappointing Louder Than Hell and songs like Return Of The Warlord and Carry On aren’t fit for their climatic positions in the set.
With 15 years of incredible material to draw from Hell On Wheels could and should have been so much better than this. With prudent use of the skip button there’s some great fun to be had but the album is marred by its padding and poor pacing. “Other bands play, Manowar kill” but Manowar’s first live album is poorly executed.