Samson – Bright Lights: The Albums 1979-1981

Samson – Bright Lights box set

5CD Boxset

If ever there was a box set to capture everything that was (and still is!) great and magical about the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, then, it’s this one. Like Iron Maiden, Samson’s origins go back to the mid-70s pubs and clubs of London town, with lead guitarist Paul Samson (hence the name) as a constant.

Samson were originally a power trio. Following the release of their debut album ‘Survivors’, Samson expanded to a four-piece band with the addition of a certain Bruce Bruce as singer. (His pseudonym was inspired by Monty Python of course. You will know him much better, of course, as a certain Bruce Dickinson.)

CD 1 – ‘Survivors’ is an excellent introduction to the world of Samson, and magically, the CD includes alternative recordings of the album’s songs with Bruce on vocals. Here, we see the extra magical ingredient he brought to Samson, and they are also important from a historical point of view in their own right.

CD2 features 1980’s ‘Head On’. It is a superb album, a piece of NWOBHM history and it would be well worth investing in ‘Bright Lights’ for this alone. If ‘Vice Versa’ had been the hit it truly deserved to be, Samson would have been at least as big as Saxon. The CD comes with three excellent bonus tracks.

CD3 features the Tony Platt alternative mix of ‘Head On’, and it is indeed a worthwhile listen.

CD 4 features 1981’s superb ‘Shock Tactics’; this is where Samson really should have hit the big time. I’m surprised Metallica have never covered any of these songs for their ‘Garage Days’ efforts. ‘Earth Mother’ really is a classic song in any genre.

Finally CD 5 features Samson’s Read Festival 1981 set, and is an excellent and fitting coda to this era of Samson. Subsequently Bruce would join Iron Maiden for ‘The Number of the Beast’ album in 1982 (it was his destiny!), and the rest is history.

Paul Samson would continue the band, soldiering on until his untimely death in 2002.

This box set is the definitive collection of New Wave of British Heavy Metal period Samson (however, it would be well worthwhile for Cherry Red to compile future Samson box sets as their music was always first class).

Kudos to Cherry Red for doing Samson’s legacy the justice it deserves. This is essential for fans of Samson, the NWOBHM, and Bruce Dickinson.

Steve Earles is author and co-author of numerous projects, including To End All Wars: The WWI Graphic Anthology, available summer 2014 (