Saxon We’re always a fixture of the Hard Rock magazines when I was a kid and went to see them when they rolled through South Wales and always remember going home thoroughly entertained particularly from Biff Byford and his banter as much as his vocal dynamics on their classic catalogue of songs. Fast forward many years and apart from the odd crossed paths at festivals Saxons popularity ebbed and flowed and in recent years people seem to have given them the respect they deserved and that’s due in no small part to frontman and Bard of Barnsley Mr Biff Byford.
I’ll admit its been quite some time since I played a Saxon record but always read interviews and had a lot of kudos for Biff and when I heard he was set to release a solo album I was intrigued and sought out the press kit in order to catch up with the legend and see if he was going to take this somewhere he could ever take his band Saxon and if so would he stand or fall in what is a super competitive market and with music being the forum it is today it’s easy to get lost in a sea of streams and downloads so I opened the Email quite excited as to what was going to greet me in the ‘School Of Hard Knocks’.
The first thing I noticed was the pipes that have been the silver-haired frontman’s trademark are still impressive and intact even at the tender age of 69. The album tackles topics such as the county that Biff has always championed – Yorkshire. Biff sings from the heart and bears his soul throughout the record and even has time to throw in a cover of ‘Scarborough Fair’ where he excels in his display of power and I come out from behind the sofa and without a hint of irony or sarcasm he did himself proud. There is also time later on the record for a cover of Wishbone Ash ‘Throw Down The Sword’. Of course, there is room for guest appearances to be fair that’s the point of a solo album anyway, isn’t it? Indulge yourself, be the boss and take the record in any direction you choose. This record isn’t short of names with guest appearances by Phil Campbell (Motörhead/Phil Campbell & The Bastard Sons), Alex Holzwarth (Rhapsody of Fire and Turilli / Lione Rhapsody), Nick Barker (Voices), Dave Kemp (Wayward Sons) and Nibbs Carter (Saxon) all present and correct.
worry not there isn’t any cod reggae or disco going on and at times its all hard rockin’ stuff but when he does stray it provides the record with its highlights such as the Wishbone Ash cover and the acoustic song from the heart ‘Me And You’. The albums title track is the only time he comes anywhere near what Saxon is famed for but then he is telling his story so I guess its only fitting there should be one of those Saxon like riffs and to be fair it’s one of the best songs on offer.
There are some long songs that are a journey in themselves like ‘The Pit And The Pendulum’ and the Wishbone Ash cover but you also get spoken-word interlude ‘Inquisitor’ that just showing off guitar noodling and if its possible I’m sure I heard Biff grinning. So all in all an album that will please fans of Biff will have people tipping their hat in respect to his service and dedication and I have some tracks I will take with me more than others but I always love hearing his voice be it on a ballad or rockin out screaming his lungs out Biff Byford has earned his stripes and stab at a successful solo album and if anyone has a bad word to say about Sir Biff of Byford send em to me I’ll sort em out.
Biff has certainly been through the School of hard knocks and has one of the genre of Rocks’ most distinguishable vocals and sang some of the best most enduring and endearing songs he wanted to tell his story and does it well. Without a hint of smugness or over-inflated egos like a lot of his contemporaries, Biff has always remained true to himself and been as honest as the day is long. He has always come across as a man well-grounded and proud of who and where he came from and now he’s been able to release a record and sing about his extraordinary life from his heart and by bearing his soul he gets the thumbs up from me. Arise, Sir Biff of Byford a true hard rockin’ legend.
Buy ‘School Of Hard Knocks’ Here
Author: Dom Daley
OK, kids, The Singles club is open for March and with a few choice picks we got a right mixed bag of genre-hopping choices to suit every pallet. WE’ve got punk of all persuasions and old rockers – we’ve got some legends of several scenes and a few eyebrow raisers as well as some really exciting new bands for you starting with the single of the month as Lemmy said March or Die…
Dead Meat – Dead Meat EP (No Front Teeth Records) What a way to start the singles club round up. A four track EP on one of my favourite labels some trashy punk rock featuring some of my favourite bands out there making a noise at the moment. This one is chuffin’ awesome. Snotty, fast, down n dirty Rock and Roll. Blink and you’ll miss this one it features four track lasting between a minute and some and two minutes and some and the players have pedigree featuring members of THE CAVEMEN, SUICIDE GENERATION and THE SPEEDWAYS need I say any more? Put it this way if you don’t curl out a smile when pogoing to ‘I Give Up’ then real Rock and Roll maybe isn’t for you. Just buy it out get out of here its a keeper and my record of the month! Buy it here
Faz Waltz – ‘Grown Up Guy’ (Spaghetty Town Records (USA) and Wanda Records (Germany)) Since forming in 2007 Faz Waltz have been a non-stop rock machine recording six albums these boys are relentless. ‘Grown Up Guy’ is what Faz Waltz do they Rock and Roll with the best of them. You wanna call it retro 70s bubblegum boot boy rock and roll then fine but this lot are tough and that riff is a cracker as are those BV’s.
The B side is just as punchy it’s like a party on plastic they’ve captured the mood perfectly and this one comes with added shakers and handclaps so what’s not to like? Faz does breakdowns and solos with the best of them and this ones no exception. Just like the TV Times, I didn’t realise there was so much in it!
The Scaners – ‘X-Ray Glasses: On’ (Spaghetty Town Records (USA), Adrenalin Fix Music (FR), Dangerhouse Skylab (FR) and Ghost Highway Records (Spain) Supersonic gonzo-synth punk – Intergalactic swirling garage rock’n roll spaceship – Soundtrack for UFO pilots and weird aliens and decent thinking punk rockers (with taste)
First, it appeared on the 2019 LP The Scaners II, and two brand new songs are the order of the day for these loons. Blink and you’ll miss opener ‘Alien Boy’ with its sub-one-minute slam dance. What a mint tune that’s how to do it punk rockers. In contrast, the numanoid feast that is ‘X-Ray Glasses’. Sounding like a really cool Tubaway Army thumper from the dumbed-down bass line to the swirling synth and robotic vocals – great stuff. ‘I Really Wanna Know’ isn’t hanging about either. Brief and fleeting but a lot of fun. The Scaners are delivering the good big time on this right smart offering. What a top single.
The Outliners – ‘House Of Thieves’ (self Release)
Unleashing slamming punk cuts and appealing hooks, Brit threesome THE OUTLINES are planning their attack across the UK with the release of their new EP, House Of Thieves, It features the track ‘Mind Trip’ which they were kind enough to shoot a video for. they are the creation of singer and guitarist, Kyle Peters, who formed the band in 2015 after leaving Ferocious Dog. Peters enlisted old school friends Martyn Brown (Bass) and Dean Hill (Drums), and the newly rejuvenated three-piece began rehearsals to craft a live set and to shape a sound that would be powerful and raw, but also refined. As you will notice the song is built around a sharp guitar riff and full-bodied sound. It should do really well and will go down really well live. ‘Man Down’ is a lively opener as it comes out of the speakers swinging. Bullish and full-bloodied. ‘Mind Trip’ is more of the same with a great production giving the songs a bright punchy sound and giving it the room to just do its thing. The title track of the EP is a bit of a beast with some piraty backing vocals as the verses swirl around a decent riff it’s a really strong introduction to the band who can rock out and show restraint. Go check em out Website / Spotify
Dystopian Future Movies – ‘Black Cloaked’ (Lasairfhíona Records) Second single off their soon to be released album ‘Inviolate’
Bona Rays – ‘Poser’ ( Flashback Records) Bona Rays’ Poser, is the last great undiscovered UK 1970’s Punk single to see light of day and the only UK punk single recorded in the 1970s fronted by a woman of West Indian descent. Poser is finally released on limited 7 on 28th February.
The Empty Hearts – Remember Days Like These (Wicked Cool Records) You want power pop from a supergroup? Hell, we all do. the Empty Hearts dish up a delicious helping of Rickenbacker backbeat power pop with the emphasis on the pop. With lush backing vocals and daydreams of laying on cut grass staring up at the clouds in a deep blue sky Hell they’ve even managed to rope in Ringo Star on the drums for the lead track and Clem Burke sits it out. Truly a supergroup. Elliot Easton – guitar, backing vocals Wally Palmar – lead vocals, guitar, Clem Burke – drums, backing vocals, percussion and Andy Babiuk – bass, backing vocals. The B side or is that AA side ‘Tell Me Reasons Why’ is my pick of the two tracks on offer and is the sound of some guys loving what they’re playing and delivering the good. For lovers of Rickenbacker power pop garage. Bandcamp
Go Mod Go! – ‘Duke’s Jetty’ (Fandango Records, Ghost Highway Recordings, KOTJ Records) Go Mod Go! Whats not to like here. It’s something totally different and harks back to the swinging 60s for sure. A project consisting of Jake Starr (Adam West, Jake Starr and The Delicious Fullness) and Tom Barrick (Adam West) featuring a 10-piece powerhouse band with horns, keyboards, and a dynamic woman vocalist.
After the band recorded their debut album “Alright!”, they went into the studio to record a few new songs with original vocalist Jamie Boyd. Jamie soon left the band and was replaced by superstar vocalist Mundy, and the band started recording their upcoming second album.
These two songs are the final recordings with Jamie and showcase the 60s garage side (“Duke’s Jetty”) and the sultry French Yé-Yé side (“Zou Bisou Bisou”). Oh, la la tre bien Mr. Starr this is something left of centre and why not? Released on a limited edition 7″ of 200 on bubblegum pink vinyl, this is the perfect bridge between Go Mod Go! albums. Kiss kiss! Bandcamp
First up we have Sick Bags and the track ‘Boys Bleed Too’ from the awesome NFT/Spaghetty Town Records EP ‘Only Thee Young Die Good’ if you love a blast of Punk Rock with plenty of Roll and a howling attitude then check it out.
Green Day slipped a brand new album out there as well recently and it seems to have shaken a few as to their expectations for what a “punk Band” should sound like. Well, ‘Stab You In The Heart’ sees the band rip it up old school and what an excellent job Butch Walker did on the production front. We love it.
Deathtraps make a noise and we love that. With a brand new album out right about now we dig into their back catalogue and bring you the awesome ‘The Death Of Rock And Roll’ taken off their second album ‘Gotta Get Some’ but you can check out the review of the new album here.
With the brand new album scheduled for release in April we got excited that a new long-player from new yorks Wyldlife was on the way so we added the last single ‘Neon Nightmare’ Can’t wait for ‘The Year Of The Snake’ to drop as I think you’ll be hearing a lot more from these boys this year.
Another band I caught up with recently is Empty Suits and their EP that blew me away, We recently welcomed Dave Prince to the team and he delivered a review of the brand new Brian Fallon album ‘Local Honey’ so here’s the mellow tune ‘I Don’t Mind’.
Ben reviewed the new offering from Stone Temple Pilots ‘Perdida‘ so we’ve included the track ‘Miles Away’. Also with a new album coming out soon is Dirtbox Disco so here’s a reminder of what they were all about and with Spunk Volcano now handling the vocals you can find out soon enough but we’ve heard it and you have nothing to worry about.
Having just landed the support on the Status Quo winter tour of the UK Rich Ragany & The Digressions also released a video for the title track so we’ve added it to this months playlist.
Also heading out on tour this month are The Bar Stool Preachers so why not warm up to ‘8.6 Days (All The Broken Hearts)’.
Bang Records are releasing the ‘In Heat’ album by The Fuzztones as it was intended so of course, we’re reviewing that in the coming weeks. It would be rude not to include the title track off that. Continuing along the Garage Rock line Thee Hypnotics are treading the boards again so here’s the classic ‘Shakedown’.
Finally, for March, we’ve got the lead track off the Biff Byford solo album ‘Me And You’. A true legend of hard rock Biff has decided than now was the right time for a solo album. Good luck to him we all have a bit of Biff in our hearts of that there is no doubt. Enjoy our mixed bag kids and we hope you find something you like.
Give us a like or a follow or whatever you do on streaming services and hey buy an album and support the bands they deserve it. Thank you.
On February 21st 2020, legendary Saxon frontman Biff Byford will step into the spotlight with his first ever solo album, School Of Hard Knocks. The album will be supported with an 10-date UK Tour in April which features 2 halves – Biff in conversation with American comedian Don Jamieson about his life and career, followed by live performance featuring a selection of new material, covers and a sprinkling of Saxon.
With his roots firmly in The North of England, Biff has earned the right to be considered The Heavy Metal Bard Of The North and his debut album reflects the man and his personality, his loves and his musical versatility.
School Of Hard Knocks fulfils Biff Byford’s long-standing wish to explore rock ‘n’ roll a little more. The album is a personal journey highlighting his life and his passionate interests, from the history of the Middle Ages to growing up in the industrial North. A classic, masterfully constructed old-school British hard rock album, School Of Hard Knocks embraces a variety of musical genres and includes the Yorkshire folk classic Scarborough Fair, famously covered by Simon and Garfunkel. Byford and Fredrik Åkesson’s arrangement breathes new life into the legendary song.
Watch the previously released videos for “Welcome to the Show” and “School Of Hard Knocks” HERE.
School Of Hard Knocks features Biff Byford on vocals (and a spot of four string thunder) along with Fredrik Åkesson (Opeth) on guitars, drummer Christian Lundqvist and bass player Gus Macricostas. The album also features guest appearances by Phil Campbell (Motörhead/Phil Campbell & The Bastard Sons), Alex Holzwarth (Rhapsody of Fire and Turilli / Lione Rhapsody), Nick Barker (Voices), Dave Kemp (Wayward Sons) and Nibbs Carter (Saxon). The album was produced by Biff Byford, recorded by Jacky Lehmann at Brighton Electric Studios in Brighton (UK) and mixed at Queen Street Studios in Stockholm (Sweden) by Mats Valentin.
School Of Hard Knocks UK Tour
Byford recently announced his first ever solo tour dates. The tour begins in the UK in April and continues to Europe in May.
The show, in the form of ‘An evening with…’, will be split into two halves. The first features Biff in conversation with Don Jamieson (American comedian and star of VH1 Classic’s That Metal Show) on all aspects of his life and career. After the break Biff and his band will play some new songs, covers and, maybe, a Saxon song or two.
Biff says: “It’s a show I’ve wanted to do for a long time and one which I don’t think has been done in hard rock before. It’ll be something different and a lot of fun.”
It is with regret that we have to announce the rescheduling of the remaining SAXON shows in 2019. Lead Vocalist Biff Byford has been diagnosed with a heart condition that requires immediate surgery and a post op recovery period that will last into the new year.
The shows affected are as follows:
September 26thSweden, Stockholm – Grona Lund
October 5th– The Netherlands, Eindhoven – Oktober Metal Fest
October 18th– UK, Glasgow – Braehead Arena
October 19th– UK, London – Eventim Apollo
October 20th– UK, Manchester – O2 Apollo
October 26th– Germany, Dusseldorf – Mitsubishi Electric Halle
December 1st– Mexico, Mexico City – Forcefest
December 6th– Colombia, Bogota – Knot Fest
The UK, London Eventim Apollo show has been rescheduled for Saturday March 28th2020
And UK, Manchester O2 Apollo for Sunday March 29th2020
The UK, Glasgow Braehead Arena & Germany, Dusseldorf Mitsubishi Electric Halle shows will be rescheduled and new dates announced as soon as possible.
All existing tickets will remain valid for new dates and in the case of a required refund