NWOBHM Band of the Week (9th January 2009): Savage


9. Jan. 2009, 12:28

(Previous NWoBHM Band of the Week) / (Next NWoBHM Band of the Week)

This is the fourth entry in my ongoing series investigating the less succesful New Wave of British Heavy Metal bands (). This week, I'm going to be discussing Savage (not to be confused with the other artists they share a page with).

It was difficult to find information on this band anywhere other than their Myspace Page, mostly due to identically named and similarly named bands eclipsing Savage in most searches I could imagine, but eventually I managed to turn up a lot of listening material and a few extra scraps of information.

As far as my sources indicate, two original band members, vocalist/bassist Chris Bradley and guitarist Andy Dawson, have always been with Savage. Initially the line-up was completed by Wayne Renshaw (guitar) and Dave Lindley (drums), but by the time of the first full length album Lindley had been replaced by Mark Brown. The band quote Thin Lizzy, UFO, Queen, Led Zeppelin, Wishbone Ash and Van Halen as their primary influences, but place an emphasis on Thin Lizzy by describing the their debut album as including "some fine Lynnot-esque narrative style lyric writing".

Although the band formed in Masnfield, Nottinghamshire in 1978, the band's first album Loose 'n Lethal was not released until 1983, and was preceded by 1982's single Ain't No Fit Place b/w The China Run (both sides of which were also used on the 8 track LP). Listen to the a-side on the band's myspace and you may be able to hear some of the Phil Lynnot influence the band claim to have.

Loose 'n Lethal became the band's biggest success, receiving good reviews and frequent imports to America, but the band's label, Ebony records, was independent and inexperienced and couldn't cope with the demand, ushering the contract to an early termination.

Loose n' Lethal track listing with youtube links
track 1, Let It Loose (youtube)
track 2, Cry Wolf (youtube)
track 3, Berlin (see below)
track 4, Dirty Money (youtube)
track 5, Ain't No Fit Place (see the band's myspace)
track 6, On the Rocks (youtube)
track 7, The China Run
track 8, White Hot (youtube)

Interestingly Metallica (supposedly) covered Let it Loose in '82 (before the album had even been released...you can see why I'm dubious of this 'fact' can't you?) here.

When searching for Berlin, I came across this video, which I assume to be fan made, but as it provides a break from the monotony of my writing I thought I'd imbed it:

Contract with Ebony records terminated, Savage quickly signed with similarly unknown independent record label Zebra Records for another single and album cycle. This time We Got the Edge (1984) preceded Hyperactive (1985). As evidenced by the lack of youtube clips to represent this album, Hyperactive saw nothing like the success of Loose 'n Lethal. I did find the whole album downloadable through a dubius blogspot link though. If you've gone through the Loose 'n Lethal videos though, you needn't bother testing Hyperactive as it is not a huge departure. In a few places, most notably the single, and opening track We Got The Edge, the Thin Lizzy influence shows through prominently, but there's not really a lot on Hyperactive to make it stand out from the NWOBHM pack or stick in your head apart from the nice cover art.

While with Zebra, offers from more capable record companies including Roadrunner came in, but the band was unable to negotiate their way out of their contract with Zebra and following the commercial failure of Hyperactive entered an early retirement in 1986.

As so often seems to be the case though, this NWOBHM band was urged out of retirement after almost a decade. The Tygers of Pan Tang's Jess Cox had become CEO of Neat Metal Records and remembering the members of Savage from their days of extensive touring persuaded Bradley and Dawson into reviving the band name, resulting in 1995's Holy Wars. (Frustratingly, I haven't yet been able to find out who completed the band's line-up for any of the post re-union albums.)

Again, Holy Wars didn't garner the following of Loose 'n Lethal, having no presence on youtube except for the re-recording of Let It Loose '95 (youtube). Additionally, HOW is available on the band's myspace page. The only other place I could find samples of this album was another blogspot download. On Holy Wars, the band sound less frantic and a closer fit for what we today would describe as hard rock rather than metal. To my ears, the influence of Thin Lizzy is now more prominent than it has ever been, while Chris Bradley's voice could hardly be more different from Lynnot's, the lyrics and arrangements frequently sound like a deliberate attempt to emulate Lynnot, as frequently do the bass lines, particularly the Thunder and Lightning album. Fashion By Force even takes a riff directly from Thunder and Lightning and there are several guitar moments that sound similarly designed to replicate the Sykes/Gorham pairing of Thunder and Lightning. Having said that, it's not a total Thin Lizzy tribute album, other named influences Queen, Led Zeppelin and Van Halen come to mind come to mind in the first few tracks alone. Check the track How on their myspace page and tell me you don't hear a few seconds of Zeppelin in the intro before a near full track of Thin Lizzy emulation.

With that, there's little left to say. Babylon and Xtreme Machine followed Hoyl Wars on teh Neat label before a best-of was released on Sanctuary/Castle (by now I'm well aware that anything on Sanctuary/Castle is probably the doing of Iron Maiden manager Mr. Smallwood, hence why so many NWOBHM acts seem to have ended up with best-of releases on the label). Release dates for Babylon and Xtreme Machine seem to be under debate, varying with different sources, but 96-97 seems to be the window for Babylon, which the band claim to be one of the best metal releases of the 90s, though they only provide a ballad for sampling on their myspace. Xtreme Machine has been listed as both a 2000 and 2001 release, while its track Smiling Assassin on the band's myspace is all I have managed to sample from it. Smiling Assassin does remind me of Soundgarden though, the verse melody reminds me specifically of My Wave, judge for yourself though.

In summary, Savage probably aren't the greatest NWOBHM band by a long way. Their early material had a lot of energy, but hasn't struck me as the most catchy, pioneering or well written from a songwriting point of view. Holy Wars if you can get your hands on it is, on the other hand, very accessible with catchier songs that stand apart from each other more distinctly and is an enjoyable listen. It's still not pioneering, but possibly the closest thing to a sequel to Thin Lizzy's Thunder and Lightning the world will ever have, so worth listening to for that alone, surely?


  • GrantRS

    I'm pretty sure the reason it sounds like Hetfield has evolved as a vocalist though is because it's actually Dave Mustaine (who was still in the band in '82). I actually think I prefer the original though. I originally tried to post the link to d/l [i]Holy Wars[/i], but last filtered it as spam, so I took it out. What I should've done is just linked to the blogspot where I found the link. It was in researching this entry I realised that virtually any album can be illegally downloaded just by googling the album title, artist name and the word 'blogspot'. (No torrent-type programs necessary, just a decent unzipping program). I'm adamant only to use this knowledge for research and for coping with very difficult to find releases though. [quote]but Bradley had none of Lynott's charisma or style. [/quote] No one does. Jorn probably comes closest though. I think the Lynnot influence is at its most apparent on [i]Holy Wars[/i]. Just traces early on, the ocassional glimmer, but I think it's definitely there every now and then. Then there's also the guitar harmonies on some tracks like [i]Cry Wolf[/i], if I've got my rock history right, it still wasn't that common to have two guitarists playing harmonies in the UK scene. Yes, Priest and Lizzy had done it, and a few other nwobhm bands (eg. Maiden) were doing it, but a lot were still operating with one guitarist (Jaguar, Raven, Venom, Angel Witch to name a few), and even those with two were (for the most part) slightly less reminiscent of the Thin Lizzy style. I hope you enjoy Holy Wars, if you do I want ot go on record as being encouraging toward the idea of buying it even if it is ridiculously hard to find, I think musically and lyrically they must have started off with the idea that they were going to write an album heavily influenced by [i]Thunder and Lightning[/i], but as with most of these reformed nwobhm bands (and I'm finding most of them have reformed at some point), they really struggle to get that spark that sets apart a great album from a merely good one.

    19. Feb. 2009, 0:25
  • GrantRS

    Just read the youtube comments and most of the more knowledgeable seeming posters seem to think it's James singing, while the few claiming it to be Mustaine seem to sound like idiots (like me). Maybe it is? To me, it sounds a lot more likely to be Mustaine, but some of those youtube posters are adamant Mustaine never sang while he was in Metallica. I definitely prefer the original version though. 'Tallica's is hardly much heavier and as average (perhaps a little above average) a vocalist Bradley was both Hetfield and Mustaine are worse. ...to be honest, it's not even close - the original is far, far better. [quote][quote][quote]but Bradley had none of Lynott's charisma or style.[/quote] No one does. Jorn probably comes closest though. [/quote]All I can say is L.O.L.![/quote] Ok, yes that was a total contradiction in terms. If no one has any of something how can someone have the most of it? ...just generally what was I thinking there? Jorn has a couple of moments where he sounds a lot like Phil, but an impersonation is not a replacement for charisma and originality. Pretty much could've picked a name out of a hat for that statement though. The comedy value would've been so much higher if I'd deliberately picked someone not remotely plausible as the heir to Phil's charisma and style. could've just said, "The one person on the planet who has Phil's charisma and style is...Chuck Billy from Testament. lol, I'm not even sure Chuck can sing his own songs anymore... Back to Let it Loose though, I think the 'whoooo' scream/whoop noise exactly one minute into your link was replicated almost exactly in Jump in the Fire, to my memory.

    19. Feb. 2009, 23:54
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