Although such early Samson releases as Head On and Shock Tactics will forever be favorites of "New Wave of British Heavy Metal" fans, their live album from 1990, Live at Reading '81, reveals that the songs were even more electrifying in concert. Although the band received rave reviews from the hard-rock press immediately after their performance that day in the summer of 1981, it would prove to be the last gig to feature singer Bruce Bruce (aka Bruce Dickinson). Iron Maiden's bassist Steve Harris and manager Rod Smallwood were in the audience scouting Bruce, to see if he' d be a worthy successor to their current singer with whom they were having problems, Paul Di'Anno. Needless to say, they were impressed with Bruce's performance; he was Maiden's new singer shortly after Samson's show at Reading. All of Samson's best tracks are featured here: the album opening epic "Big Brother," the furious "Take It Like a Man," and perhaps their best-known song, "Riding With the Angels." Although Dickinson's talents were put to better use with Maiden, Samson's Live at Reading '81 showed that his old band could pack quite a metallic punch.
AllMusic Review by Greg Prato
feat: Bruce Dickinson