For our Flashback Friday this week we feature a classic from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) era.
Saxon’s 747 (strangers in the night) was released in 1980 and was the third single on the band’s critically acclaimed second studio album Wheels of Steel.
The song is based on a real life incident that happened in the skies over the US in 1965. The event involved Scandinavian Flight 911, although Saxon reference Flight 101 in the song. Why? I can’t say but it is probably because Flight 101 scans better than Flight 911.
On the evening in 1965, Scandinavian flight 911 bound for New York was forced to detour to Kennedy airport due to a major power outage on the ground which affected much of the North East of the US. The flight flew in complete radio silence with no ground control support and came close to using up its entire fuel supply. This incident resulted in a substantial overhaul in aviation safety and was a primary catalyst for the addition of reserve fuel tanks in aircraft.
With the history out of the way let’s turn back to the song.
747 (strangers in the night) is a good example of Saxon in their prime. With a memorable intro riff, simple yet effective guitar rhythms and powerful vocals the song demonstrate nicely why Saxon is seen as a classic example of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal that dominated the metal sound in the late 70s and early 80s. The sound that guitarists Graham Oliver and Paul Quinn create in 747 is instantly recognisable as Saxon and explains why they continue to maintain a fond place in the hearts of metal fans everywhere. If you wanted to re-create that NWOBHM sound on your guitar then learning 747 (strangers in the night) is a great place to start.
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