Samson. One of the original (and best) bands to emerge in the early New Wave of British Heavy Metal days.
Built around the excellent guitar of Paul Samson the band also featured drummer “Thunderstick” (he of the gimp mask and cage), the solid bass of Chris Aylmer and the remarkable vocals of a young chap calling himself Bruce Bruce – who of course would become better known as Bruce Dickinson after he left to join another NWOBHM band named after a medieval torture device. What do you mean you don’t know who that is…..?
In this super Box Set we have the first three Samson studio albums (two of which featured Bruce), a remix of the second album and a storming live CD of Samson’s set at the 1981 Reading Festival which marked the departure of Bruce.
The first album – Survivors – is arguably a bit experimental and raw though does show much promise for the future. Bluesy type rockers such as Not as Easy as it Seems, the bizarrely named I wish I was the Saddle of a Schoolgirls’s Bike and Big Brother etc. all enjoyable.
Survivors was recorded before Bruce joined. However Bruce re-recorded the vocals and we have that here in this box set, which is a proper treat and one can immediately hear the difference his voice brings to the songs. More powerful.
With Bruce well settled in and Samson’s stock rising, the second album – Head On – would knock things up way more than a single notch. Chock full of blistering rockers the band was on a roll. Hard Times, Take it Like a Man, Vice Versa, Thunderburst at al. Bruce’s vocal talents to the fore. Growling. Mean, lung-busting. Not a weak moment anywhere (well, other than the iffy cover) and surely the album that would break them in to the big time.
That’s how it looked too. Media plaudits, tours, Reading Festival. The third album would seal the deal – wouldn’t it?
That third album – Shock Tactics – (in my opinion) was another step up. The best of the three. Still rocking very hard, Bruce’s vocals even more impressive. A more mature composition style and all round production value.
And the songs – A pulsing Riding with the Angels, a ZZ-Top style lead in to Earth Mother before it kicks off with a spectacular riff and Bruce’s immense vocal, the jaunty Nice Girl to name but three.
Check out Earth Mother now:
Shock Tactics – remarkable an album as it is – somehow failed to build on the head of steam build up after Head On. Go figure.
Not even the band’s blistering set at the 1981 reading Festival (here on CD too) could save the day. Bruce Bruce became Bruce Dickinson and jumped over to Iron Maiden. Samson continued with new vocalist Nicky Moore releasing a few more albums before the end came – which it sadly has permanently for Paul Samson and Chris Ayler after untimely early deaths.
However this box set shows what a powerhouse Samson was back in the early NOWBHM days.
Don’t think about it – just buy it!