There have been countless anthology and collection releases over the years of the oft-overlooked New Wave of British Heavy Metal outfit Saxon. Although some of their peers would soon leave them in the dust sniffing their fumes, Saxon did issue a handful of albums during the early '80s that stood up to the early releases of their local peers. And it's this exact era of the band that is showcased on the compilation, Masters of Rock. Like Iron Maiden and Def Leppard, Saxon's early albums were much more raw and unpolished -- from both a sonic and songwriting standpoint -- and this approach suited Saxon perfectly. Included are such pre-MTV headbanging classics as "Strong Arm of the Law," "Never Surrender," "747 (Strangers in the Night)," "Denim and Leather," and "Princess of the Night" (the latter of which Metallica has been known to break out into in concert from time to time). Also included is their concert anthem, "Wheels of the Steel," that many metalheads forget was once voted one of the top heavy metal tracks of all-time in an early-'80s issue of Hit Parader (proving that although their albums didn't chart as highly in the U.S. as they did in the U.K., they did still had a substantial Stateside fan base). Unfortunately, Saxon would peak early, and never "took it to the next level" as the aforementioned bands. But as evidenced by the tracks on Masters of Rock, for a brief shining moment, it appeared as though Saxon was well on their way to global metallic greatness.
AllMusic Review by Greg Prato