Coolhead Productions (studio)
Cert 12 (certificate)
300 min approx (length)
10 December 2012 (released)
28 January 2013
After enjoying a limited ‘Fan Club Only’ UK release, this truly thundering heavy metal affair is now available nationwide. Just as well, for as far as music docus go, this one has got to be amongst the best. Just like the band itself then!
Heavy Metal Thunder – The Movie, is a no holds barred account of one the world’s most successful and longstanding heavy metal acts ever, Saxon.
The 2-Disc set (DVD and Blu-ray format) offers plenty to any Saxon- and metal-head, but at the same time it’s entertaining enough to appear even to those who are less metal inclined.
On Disc-1, we get the unfiltered and intimate story of how the band – after humble beginnings – ascended to the upper echelons of heavy metal. Frontman Byff Byford remembers his teenage years in the coalmines of Yorkshire (“It was terrible down there!”) and how, having married at the age of 17 and becoming a dad, seriously messed with his aspirations as a rock musician. Eventually, the latter got the better of him, and the first attempts to fly toward recognition resulted in the formation of Son Of A Bitch – Saxon’s first incarnation. Despite a fierce ambition, those were the band’s salad days…
In one of many cracking anecdotes, the band recalls how they used to steal packs of cigarettes from behind closed shutters inside venues. This they achieved via the aid of a long bamboo stick with a 6-inch nail attached to it. Priceless! Slowly but surely, Son Of A Bitch became known on the circuit and more and more gigs followed… mainly in the land’s best known dumps. Armed with merely their instruments and a van, the band began to tour London, and first groupies swiftly followed. The whole concept of groupies initially seemed rather alien to the band, as Byff laughingly explains “You wouldn’t say ‘no’ to the girls from the rough parts of South London.”
After more mishaps and mayhem (especially on the drummer side, the band emerged as Saxon and with one goal in mind: to become the world’s loudest band! With his background steeped in industrial work, were steel and big machinery was part of the daily grind, it’s little wonder that these were his very thoughts.
Things were on a constant up from thereon, and in 1979/80, when the country’s youth in particular was disenfranchised by Thatcher’s misguided politics, Saxon’s lyrics about working class life only widened their fan base. Britain may have crumbled, but Saxon were on top of their game!
So much that soon after, they were offered an US tour (The Eagle & The Bomber tour) together with that other ‘very loud’ band, Motörhead. It goes without saying that this tour in particular makes for ever more cracking anecdotes… foremost because at that time, Saxon were sworn teetotallers while Motörhead very clearly were not. A highly amused Lemmy tells of how he generously offered hard liquor to the band “who just sat there eating their cakes and sipping tea”. In fact, Saxon’s manager recalls how, for the band’s 1980 US tour, thousands of boxes of English tea had to be shipped to the US because Saxon refused to drink the American brew (“Most of the space in the vans was taken up by boxes full of teabags!”).
Saxon got further corrupted by Lemmy and Co. when they introduced them to the world of hardcore groupie sex. Remembers the band: “We didn’t get our first blow-job before we went to the US with Motörhead. The English birds just used to say “eeek, we’re not doing that!” Clearly, the band were no longer in Barnsley!
Is it any wonder that Saxon stood model for ‘This Is Spinal Tap’? Brushed aside as ‘this is bullshit’ by Byff.
Despite the fact that to this day there remains tension between the Byford/Quinn and Oliver/Dawson camps, everyone tells the unedited Saxon story with integrity. With further contributions from Lars Ulrich (Metallica), Doro Pesch, Harvey Goldsmith, Airbourne, and Amon Amarth to name but a few, this is awesome to watch!
Disc-2 features freshly uncovered archive footage and interviews (‘On A Crusade’ and ‘No Excuses’), the mini-docus ‘The Eagle & The Bomber’ and ‘Building The Labyrinth’, as well as archive concert ‘Saxon In Concert 1981’ and the concert ‘St. George’s Day 2008’.
As the Saxon mantra goes: ‘Denim and leather brought us all together’ – so join the tribe and get your copy Heavy Metal Thunder – The Movie.