Sunday, September 6, 2020

Biff Byford - School Of Hard Knocks (2020) (Review by Javier Barba Vallejo

A few days ago I stayed with my friend Jordi Herraiz
 , a complete crawler that achieves impossible things online, so that he would pass me a deluxe edition that in his day I bought in pre-order of Biff Byford's solo album School Of Hard Knocks (2020) and that for work issues and Covid we had not yet matched.
As by age I am from the old guard, I reserved myself and had not yet listened to the album, yes ..... yes ...... I can wait for months as we did all our lives in the past and not throw the internet like agonies and have it all at the moment.
But if I will say that the day Byford released the promotional video clip Welcome To The Show, I was there to listen to it and edit it on my wall, although hence the word "promotional" which is what it is for!
And so I can see what musical direction Byford was leading this time, since I did not like Scintilla Project's project with people from Circus Of Power for the soundtrack of the science fiction film of the same name with the album The Hybrid (2014), that was an album of a style too progressive for me.
So when I open the pack I find myself
With the vinyl edition 180 gr. silver double folder (I don't know if the normal edition is double or single), the digipack edition of the cd and a long-sleeved shirt that has everything exclusive as austere, and that the price of the pack was nothing austere € 82 !!! ..... but it is Mr.Byford and having the most crack pack is law for me.
I got ready to listen to him with both ears covered, I have to go to the doctor for it and the water on the beaches does not work well, so I hear as if four orthodox Christian priests grab me, submerge and hold my head under the fucking waters Biblical river Jordan to drown me and thus exort the demons from my body.
Still we go to the mess because it is noteworthy !!! .....
The album begins with the song from the promotional video clip for the rocker Welcome To The show that already marks the line of work and that you are going to listen to a great album, it is followed with a very badass riff and raising the hard rocker bar the song that gives its name disc and that refers to the hard childhood of the singer and how he turned to his beginnings in music, in it he has the collaboration of his friend Phil Campell (Motorhead, PC & Bastard Soons) and there you can see the old friends rocking reed.
Inquisitor follows a narration of a poem by Edgar Allan Poe recited on a background of Spanish guitar that gives the introduction to the star theme of the album, the longest and most complete composition and structure Pit And The Pendulum Poe poem that deals with the despair of someone who knows that he will die shortly, this theme already with progressive overtones, a style that Byford loves, with good solo and guitar by Fredrick Åkesson from Opeth, a theme written by both.
It continues with the theme Worlds Collide, which is faster and continues in the line of hard / progressive, in these last two the great Saxon Nibbs Carter appears as bassist.
And we arrived at Scarborough Fair, a BEAUTIFUL ballad interpreted by Biff as a medieval troubadour with a voice register in which he leaves, to then give the listener a bang in the whole face with Pedal To The Metal and Hearts Of Steel, both more Heavy Metal songs written with Nibbs Carter in the purest Saxon vibe.

And after them the LP is located in its space of tribute to one of the bands that always influenced the singer Whisbone Ash choosing the version of Throw Down the Sword following in a very melodic and medieval register that I love to listen to this for me It is delicately brutal and with this tonic the listener is immersed in Me and You sublime ballad that Biff dedicates to his wife and their life together on their silver wedding anniversary, to acoustic guitar with keyboards and a sensational sax, written together with his inseparable friend of youth and fellow in Coast and Saxon Paul Quinn.
And the album ends with Black And White, a very "sensually rocker" song, perfect to finish a job like this after two beautiful ballads, a way to dismiss the work saying "you just heard a great Rock album !!!!" .
This album is the first solo by the charismatic singer, the result of a VERY personal work in lyrics and musical styles that have marked his life and that at 69 years of age after a coronary operation, more than forty years leading Saxon and more than fifty dedicated to Rock ventures to launch in his unflagging determination for music, with registers and styles that he could not record with Saxon because they would be out of place, although some songs composed by Byford for this album have gone to the last Saxon Thunderbolt album so far (2018 ) must also be said.
Personally I think it is one of the most important releases of the year, essential to have it for its versatility, feeling and because it is made with "Big Cojones" as Biff says !!!!
Recorded in England and mixed in Sweden, with the cover designed by his daughter Steph Byford, the only thing that has missed and missed me is some collaboration with his son Seb Byford (Naked Six) with whom he is doing such good streaming concerts. , versions and outtakes from your home.
But we will be waiting to see if they eventually do a father & son project, until then ........

 Review by Javier Barba Vallejo

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