Category: Judas Priest

Judas Priest – Hell Bent for Leather

ARTIST: Judas Priest

TITLE:  Hell Bent for Leather (Killing Machine in the UK) judas_priest_-_killing_machine_album_coverart

YEAR RELEASED: 1978 (1979 in the US in case you were wondering)

CHART ACTION: #128 US, #32 UK

SINGLES: Take on the World (#14 UK), Evening Star (#53 UK), Rock Forever

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Delivering the Goods, Hell Bent for Leather, The Green Manalishi (with the Two-Pronged Crown)

LINEUP: Rob Halford, KK Downing, Glenn Tipton, Ian Hill, Les Binks

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT:  Having broken through a bit in the US, Priest goes all-in, establishing a look and tightening and polishing up their sound.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: How do you review and album that you’ve known and loved forever? Well, you try to listen to things you haven’t heard before when you were mindlessly headbanging.

While not a huge chart success in the US, this was the breakthrough in terms of sound and approach. The Priest were now a tight, taut, heavy metal machine ready to rock the world. While there’s still some darkness and some deviance (especially on side two), here the band reins in any prog-rock aspersions and delivers tight, concise songs. (OK, some are over four minutes, but still that’s mostly some solos going on).

There are a couple of mis-steps. “Take on the World” is just a football chant that’s kind of a rip on “We Will Rock You”. It, of course, was a big hit in the UK. “Before the Dawn” is a ballad that’s, well, their best single ballad, but that’s not saying much. And “Evil Fantasies” seems a bit sparse.

The Priest were now primed and ready for their breakthrough. It would just be a matter of time.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Columbia Records in the US didn’t like the Killing Machine title, so they had to come up with another. They chose the single track that is symbolic of the Priest, especially at live shows.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. The US version added the cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Green Manalishi”. Sorry Brits. Also, there is an outtake and a live cut appended, but not from these sessions. Why?

GRADE: A-: I love this record. But it has a couple of flaws Stained Class didn’t. Still, crank it.

Judas Priest – Stained Class

ARTIST: Judas Priest 220px-jpstandclass

TITLE:  Stained Class

YEAR RELEASED: 1978

CHART ACTION: #173 US, #27 UK

SINGLES: Better by You, Better Than Me

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW:  Exciter

LINEUP:  Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton, KK Downing, Ian Hill, Les Binks.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Nine cuts of classic Priest. This is an underrated gem in the Priest canon. 

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Hiring a new drummer in Les Binks, Judas Priest went about to record a nine-song album that set the stage for their commercial breakthroughs soon to follow. It’s a record that really on Priest fanatics know, but more people should.

Everything people love about the band is here. Rob Halford’s voice is in fine form, hitting his patented high notes. KK Downing and Glenn Tipton’s guitar attack is both heavy and melodic. The songs are right in the Priest wheelhouse, and even though they’re longer than the more popular songs, they don’t overstay their welcome.

Only “Exciter” seems to have survived from this set as a go-to Priest set, but more should check this out, for songs like “Saints in Hell”, “Invader” and the title cut. It’s a pleasant surprise.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The one other song people remember is “Better by You, Better Than Me”, which was the song at the center of their famous lawsuit. What was ironic was that it wasn’t a Priest original, but a cover of a Spooky Tooth song.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: An extra song appended, and oddly from an album 10 years after this album. Priest didn’t have a lot of outtakes.

GRADE: A: Underrated, except by Priest fanatics. Well, I didn’t underrate it, did I?

Judas Priest – Sin After Sin

ARTIST: Judas Priest 220px-Jpsinsin

TITLE:  Sin After Sin

YEAR RELEASED: 1977

CHART ACTION: #23 UK

SINGLES: Diamonds & Rust

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Sinner, Starbreaker, Dissident Aggressor

LINEUP: Rob Halford, KK Downing, Glenn Tipton, Ian Hill, Simon Phillips

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: First major label release by the metal pioneers is a little step back from their previous album, but contains some classics and is the first to get some airplay.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: It may be strange for a band like Judas Priest to cover a contemporary Joan Baez songs, but there they were going at “Diamonds & Rust” with all vigor. Most of this album has a lot of attitude, but the songs are just a bit weaker than Sad Wings of Destiny.

However, “Sinner”, “Starbreaker” and “Dissident Aggressor” are part of the heavy-metal canon now, inspiring covers and reverent imitations. Phillips’ drumming (he was a fill-in as the Priest were between drummers, again), was quite inspirational in the development of the metal drum method.

There are still a couple of ballads, though “Here Come the Tears” breaks out into a classic Tipton solo. It’s just odd to hear Halford’s voice in a ballad, and not howling like he can do. Those ballads, and couple of cuts that aren’t as strong, knock this down a bit, but the inclusion of key cuts make it worth a listen.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Roger Glover, bass player for Deep Purple, produced this album

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: A outtake cover and a live cut (not even from this album, for some reason)

GRADE: B+: There’s really good cuts, and OK cuts, but for a Priest fan it’s good to have for the best tunes and just skip the others.

 

Judas Priest – Sad Wings of Destiny

ARTIST: Judas Priest 220px-Sad_wings_of_destiny_cover

TITLE:  Sad Wings of Destiny

YEAR RELEASED: 1976

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: The Ripper

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Victim of Changes, Deceiver, Tyrant, Genocide, Island of Domination

LINEUP: Rob Halford, KK Downing, Glenn Tipton, Ian Hill, Alan Moore

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A mostly metal showcase for the band that has several legendary Priest songs.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: “Victim of Changes” is my favorite heavy metal song of all time. It glides through several movements and features some great guitar playing and the ultimate vocal gymnastics from Rob Halford. It’s a damn near perfect way to start this record.

This one is packed with songs that would become tour staples for many years to follow, and many were immortalized on live records and bootlegs in future years. Hearing Halford’s vocals on the intro to “The Ripper” gives one chills.

It’s not a perfect album. They kept trying to make ballads happen and it really wasn’t their strength, though “Dreamer Deceiver” picks up at the end as it morphs into “Deceiver”.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: After this record, they left Gull Records and were signed by CBS, but Gull owned the rights to their first two albums. Thus, the endless repackaging of them in later years.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE: A-: As much as I wanted to give this an A or A+, the ballads drag it down so it’s not a complete heavy metal extravaganza.

Judas Priest – Rocka Rolla

ARTIST: Judas Priest
TITLE: Rocka RollaRocka_Rolla_(Judas_Priest_album)
YEAR RELEASED: 1974
CHART ACTION: None
SINGLES: Rocka Rolla
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: This is some deep cut Judas Priest
LINEUP: Rob Halford, KK Downing, Glenn Tipton, Ian Hill, John Hinch
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: First record for the heavy metal mainstay. It’s kinda hard, not really that heavy (mostly), nor really metal, nor really good.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: It’s not a record that makes you run to the store for more Judas Priest, let me tell you. Only a few of the tracks220px-Rockarollareissue, and sometimes just moments in the tracks, scream out “Priest!” and then it’s more of a whisper than a scream.

The title cut rocks, and a couple of others have some heavy moments, but the material isn’t up to par (Halford hadn’t been in the band that long, and Tipton JUST joined, so about half the tracks were pre-dating Halford and only the tile cut was co-written by Tipton). So we can chalk this up to being rushed in the studio. The production is kind of flat and meh as well, not crisp and sharp like you’d want your metal.

It could be worse, of course. But they’d do so much better on their next try.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The producer, Rodger Bain, didn’t want to record some great tracks that were also co-written by Tipton, saying they weren’t commercial enough. Those tracks became the focus of Sad Wings of Destiny. D’oh!

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: They added a version of “Diamonds and Rust” that was actually recorded in 1975.

GRADE: C+: There have been a lot of repackaging of this album, but it all adds up the same. It’s not really great, and only the title cut makes you want more.