The beginnings of Saxon can be traced to early 1976 when Graham Oliver (guitar), Steve Dawson (bass), Peter “Biff” Byford (vocals), Pete Gill (drums) and Paul Quinn (guitar) formed the band “Son Of A Bitch”. In 1979 they signed to the French Carrere label and the name changed to Saxon. At this time they were at the forefront of the so-called “New Wave of British Heavy Metal” and secured support slots on several major tours of the period including those by Nazareth and Motorhead.
In 1980 they were approached to perform at the first Monsters of Rock festival at Donnington with Rainbow, Judas Priest and the Scorpions. This unique recording captures the excitement and emotion of their performance at a time when Saxon were storming the singles and album charts.
Included here are the classic tracks “Wheels Of Steel” and “747 (Strangers In The Night)”. This CD is complemented with Angel Air’s usual informative sleeve notes and photos.
Musically, we are treated to a band at the peak of their powers...At times, particularly on the first CD the interplay between the band is brilliant...a good well packaged release giving more than just a snapshot of a short lived band on fire.
...for a time in the early '80s, they moved the metallic hordes, Donnington 1980...was their performance peak and 20 years on, Wheels of Steel remains a lost AC-DC creaming classic
Q, January 2000
...when they break into tracks from 'Wheels of Steel' the heat is really turned up...Sleevenotes from the band make interesting reading, and are a welcome addition to the entire live set here. "Still Fit To Boogie", that's Saxon alright.
Joe Geesin, Record Collector (January 2000)
...this is mainly for heavy metal freaks though you can't be helped be taken along by their fierce rhythm section...
Zabadak, October 2000
...If you were there it's a souvenir to treasure! If you weren't it's a reminder of what the New Wave of British Heavy Metal was all about...
Andy Coleman, Birmingham Evening Mail, 11.1.00
...'Still Fit To Boogie' and 'Backs To The Wall' are delivered with typical bare-knuckled bluster, while 'Wheels Of Steel' and '747 (Strangers In The Night')are simply colossal tunes...
Dave Ling, Classic Rock, January 2000
...you can almost smell the mud, hot dogs and tobacco as well as feel the pure magic of the day
Nuclear Submarine (February 2000)
...Containing nine numbers...this storming CD finds Biff Byford and the boys in fine form...
Hartlepool Mail (February 2000)
Donington’s ‘Monsters Of Rock 1980 was a great happening and also a very interesting one, as it featured as line-up the following bands: RAINBOW, JUDAS PRIEST, SCORPIONS, APRIL WINE, RIOT, TOUCH (this was incredible, because in 1979 they released their only album, a Classic in AOR/Pomp history and they were put on a festival consisting of only Metal bands, I would be very interested in a hearing how that sounded!) and of course SAXON!
SAXON’s live recording has been released by ANGEL AIR RECORDS, so you can hear how it all went down there, and I must say that later live recordings/concerts of SAXON sounded better, but that’s easy to understand, because SAXON had just started back then. Anyway, the crowd loved the band already and so the 9 songs they played were received very well. Any SAXON fan must own this, as this is a unique performance of a Classic Hardrockband at a legendary festival! (Points: 8.0 out of 10)
Strutter magazine (September 2003)