Here's another largely ignored British keyboard orientated outfit, in the same league as Nightwing. It can safely be said that they were one of the best UK pomp rock outfits doing the rounds at the time. Their music was an interesting hybrid of Styx meets Black Sabbath, with long epic-like tracks intermixed with short catchy American-style AOR rockers, and it worked well! Unfortunately, not much is known about this great band, but what is known is that they underwent a major line-up reshuffle, with vocalist Steve Bettney and keyboard player Richard Lowe the only remaining members of the original quintet. Their second and final album, "Change of Heart", released in 1984, was not as good as their first, and they faded into obscurity shortly after its release. Both albums were released on one CD, and, like Nightwing's albums, are worth checking out. 
  
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Biography by Eduardo Rivadavia
Derbyshire's Saracen were a hard, verging on progressive, rock ensemble that became wrongly associated with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal — as much due to the timing (1981) of their self-released debut album, Heroes, Saints & Fools, as for their leather jackets and handlebar mustaches. Having said that, the band never tried to overtly latch onto the movement's coattails, and were all fine musicians in their own right, particularly singer Steven Bettney, who possessed a rich and powerful voice. Completed by Robert Bendelow (guitar), Richard Lowe (keyboards), Barry Yates (bass), and John Thorne (drums), Saracen earned an early patronage from influential Friday Rock Show presenter Tommy Vance, who invited them to record a few radio sessions and helped bolster their commercial prospects as they readied new single "No More Lonely Nights" in 1982. This, along with subsequent releases for the Neat label (the Change of Heart album and "We Have Arrived" single — both 1984), showed the group moving in a far more commercial direction, toward the hook- and synth-laden post-prog AOR of a Kansas or Magnum, to be precise. Again, not that there was anything wrong with this, except for the sad reality that Saracen (now tweaked to feature guitarist Haydn Conway, bassist Jason Gardner, and drummer Danny Spencer) had little hope of succeeding in that arena while signed to metal-specialized Neat. The group made it to one more Friday Rock Show session before its members vanished from sight, with only Conway resurfacing in 1996, as a member of Son of a Bitch, also featuring three ousted members of Saxon. 

 

 

 

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Saracen - 1982 - Heroes, Saints & Fools - 2/5

Saracen - 1984 - Change of Heart - 3/5

Saracen - 2003 - Red Sky - 3/5

Saracen - 2006 - Vox in Excelso - 3.5/5

Rating

 

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