Now here’s a classic if oft underrated metal album; one I grew up with and hard to believe it’s now 30 years old. Judas Priest epitomise British Heavy Metal and the twin guitar approach, always did and still do.
The band’s tenth studio album, and gets expanded here with a wonderful live show.
Originally formed in the late 60s, the band technically have no original members, but guitarist KK Downing and bassist Ian Hill have been there since the real start, with vocalist Rob Halford and guitarist Glen Tipton also present since the 1974 debut album Rocka Rolla.
Some truly great and massive metal albums, Stained Class a personal favourite, it is 1980’s British Steel (featuring the hit single Breaking The Law) probably the first true dry heavy metal album that transcended the genre’s blues, psyche and classical roots.
Musically the band had had a few ups and downs, but as a unit fairly consistent; up to that point the only line-up changes on record were on the drum stool.
Mid 80s and the music scene was changing, which Judas Priest tried to embrace, here with the use of guitar synths and dropping the studded leather look. Even the band would admit it’s a love-hate album. For me, it worked and it has some truly great tracks,
Originally to be a double album called Twin Turbos, one LP having the more commercial material than the second, the album was effectively cut into two by the label, with much (but not all) of the remaining material surfacing on 1988’s Ram It Down LP.
Lyrically more grounded than earlier LPs, the set opens with ‘Turbo Lover’, the band’s build and power allow the more commercial approach to really work well. A chugging song with solid rhythms and great vocals, a melodic break and a decent guitar solo. Catchy and memorable, def a highlight of the album. Guitar synth or not, there’s some great work on ‘Locked In’ and ‘Private Property’, and ‘Parental Guidance’ a will aimed swipe at Tipper Gore and her PMRC organisation.
Bassist Ian Hill is a fantastic anchor for the band here, and in fact still is, and the twin guitars shred with aplomb, trading riffs and solos as good as ever.
‘Rock You All Around The World’ is another wonderful track, shred and layered backing vocal, and a memorable riff, check it out.
Halford’s power and vocal range also helps define the band’s sound and produces notes here would distract dogs and bats.
Tom Allom’s production embraces the direction that, no matter how commercial, still has you raising your fists.
The two bonus discs cover a live show that mixes material new and old, and proves just what a fantastic live band Judas Priest have always been. Literally smokin’.
But it is with the bonus material that there is a seriously missed opportunity. The two bonus tracks from the previous remaster are not included (including Twin Turbos’ ‘All Fired Up’), which is quite a basic error, and there is scope to have used the tracks from Twin Turbos that were not used on Ram It Down; ‘Under The Gun’ and ‘Fighting For Your Love’ remain unreleased, ‘Heart Of A Lion’ was issued on the Metalogy box, while ‘Red White & Blue’, ‘Prisoner Of Your Eyes’ and ‘Turn On Your Light’ were added as bonuses to different albums. 8/10
Judas Priest are
Rob Halford – vocals
K. K. Downing – guitars
Glenn Tipton – guitars
Ian Hill – bass guitar
Dave Holland – drums
1. Turbo Lover
2. Locked In
3. Private Property
4. Parental Guidance
5. Rock You All Around the World
6. Out in the Cold
7. Wild Nights, Hot & Crazy Days
8. Hot for Love
Disc Two LIVE AT THE KEMPER ARENA, KANSAS CITY
1. Out in the Cold
2. Locked In
3. Heading Out to the Highway
4. Metal Gods
5. Breaking the Law
6. Love Bites
7. Some Heads Are Gonna Roll
8. The Sentinel
9. Private Property
10. Desert Plains
11. Rock You All Around the World
Disc Three LIVE AT THE KEMPER ARENA, KANSAS CITY
1. The Hellion
2. Electric Eye
3. Turbo Lover
4. Freewheel Burning
5. Victim of Changes
6. The Green Manalishi (With the Two-Pronged Crown) (Fleetwood Mac cover)
7. Living After Midnight
8. You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’
9. Hell Bent for Leather
…a few years later