In some people’s minds, Samson are often considered either a second division act of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, or simply “that band that Bruce Dickinson used to be in”. While neither is technically incorrect – historically, most NWOBHM bands are now second division compared to scene titans Iron Maiden and Saxon, and Bruce was in the band – such basic thinking does Samson a massive disservice. By the time they’d recorded their debut album in 1979, the band were actually at the forefront of the emerging scene. They were one of the first to release a full length album and despite some fluctuation in early line-ups, at their best, they could more than hold their own when it came to hard rock entertainment.
As is their tradition, Cherry Red Records and their many associated subsidiaries have dozens of fantastic box sets and reissues lined up for the year’s second and third quarters. As we move firmly into Spring, Real Gone picks a few essentials lurking just over the horizon.
Their 1987 world dominating ‘Kick’ album – boasting no fewer than five hit singles – was reissued in 2002 as a two disc deluxe edition, again in 2012 as a 3CD/DVD box set and yet again in 2017 as a modified version of the previous box, missing a few items but priced far more sensibly. Despite shifting a lot of album units, however, the rest of their back catalogue has been overlooked with regard to the deluxe reissue market.
Iron Maiden’s second album ‘Killers’ was released in the UK in February 1981, just ten months after their debut LP. Not so much “born into a scene of angriness and greed, dominance and persecution” as born of haste following EMI’s request for a speedy follow up, it was a “second album” in almost every conceivable sense. Faced with the prospect of having to deliver a new product amid relentless touring, they looked to their archive of already written material and plundered it for all it was worth. Years of honing their sound on the road and the fact the debut included just eight tracks, they found themselves in the fortunate position of having a cushion of material – and while it’s sometimes obvious why some of the tracks were not considered first division material when compiling the debut, Maiden’s “leftovers” were still strong, with some tracks having already become firm fan favourites by the time Steve Harris and company re-entered the studio.
One of the more overlooked items within Richard Wright’s back-catalogue, perhaps even more so than his two solo recordings (1978’s ‘Wet Dream’ and 1996’s ‘Broken China’), ZEE was a one-off project. A collaboration with Fashion’s Dave Harris, the band only released one album, but 1984’s ‘Fashion’ is an album that’s continued to be ignored over the years. Perhaps this is due to it not sounding like anything his fans were used to, but maybe it’s place as the elephant in the room of Floyd history runs deeper. Even Wright himself later considered ZEE “an expensive mistake“.