Judas Priest – ‘Turbo’ (1986) – Album Review (The Complete Albums Collection Series)

After the ‘Defenders of Faith’ Tour, the band took it easy for a little while. They didn’t jump right back in to the studio. There was no tour planned in 1985, but did do one live show that year. Of course that was to play at Live Aid on July 13th, 1985. They played in Philadelphia at around 11am in the morning. Rob said that was a good time to play because it meant he could spend the rest of the day just drinking. Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton, K.K. Downing, Ian Hill and Dave Holland rocked the world that day and then went back to record an album.

By this time they had already started recording their follow-up album. They started recording in June 1985 down in Nassau, Bahamas at the Compass Pointe Studio. It was a beautiful place to record, but it was also a bad time for Rob Halford whose drinking and drugs were getting out of hand. Rob also got hepatitis during the recording of the album and was sick from that for a little while. Then around Christmas 1985, Rob finally checked in to rehab to get clean and he actually succeeded. He made it look easy which of course we know it never really is. Now with Rob clean, they finally finished the album around February 1986 which they finished up at the Record Plant in Los Angeles.

The original concept of the album was to be a double album called ‘Twin Turbos’. The record company did not agree with that concept and ended up taking the more commercial songs and putting together a single album simply called, ‘Turbo’. The band also changed up their sound to match a little more of what the glam rock scene was doing at the time. The band got a little lighter sound, no where near as heavy, and they introduced guitar synthesizers in to the mix. So for some fans, this was sacrilege. The band was abandoning who they were as a heavy metal band to fit mainstream. Right or Wrong, the band still had success with the album as after its release on April 14, 1986, the album quickly went Gold and eventually went Platinum about a year later. The album reached #17 on the US Charts and only #33 on the UK Charts.

The album opens with the 80’s glam rock track called “Turbo Lover”. A song that basically talks about sex in the car…the best kind!! It is full of the guitar synthesizer effect which turned off a lot of people. But the song still kicks ass even if it isn’t one of the heaviest tracks to kick off an album. The song still is hard driving song and Tipton and Downing sound phenomenal and Tipton delivers a great solo. Rob still sounds like the Metal God on this one with his confident, aggressive vocal style and hitting some crazy notes. All in all, a solid opening track even if a little worrisome on the direction of the album.

“Locked In” was up next and it kept the sound going as there are more synths on this one as well, but the song is still an uptempo rocker with some pounding drums and a killer dual guitar solo with Tipton laying in some killer fills during the solo. The riffs are great and it reminds a little of Screaming for Vengeance, but a toned down a little.

Then we get to “Private Property” and with the synth to kick off the song at first I thought it was The Tubes until they finally kick is up a notch and Halford’s vocals reminded me that this is Priest. The song is full of hooks and quite catchy chorus and full of vocal layers to sound like a lot of people singing along. Makes it feel a little like a rock anthem. Another rocking track and a good start to the album.

Do you remember the controversy of the PMRC (Parents Music Resource Center) brought to you by Tipper Gore? Well, if you do, then “Parental Guidance” is Priest’s Middle Finger to the group after all the press they caused. Little did the PMRC know that labeling an album with a Parental Advisory Sticker would actually make album sales go up because kids wanted to have those albums. The song is not typical Priest as it is more Glam than Metal. It fits right in to the music of the time though. It is still a good, catchy song even if it is not pure metal. Rob sounds great but a lot of what we love about Priest is absent, except a great guitar solo.

Next up is “Rock You All Around the World” which is one of the fastest songs on the album. The drums are quick and the riffs are fast and frenzied. It might be the most rocking song on the album. Another catchy chorus that will hook you in and burrow in to your brain. The solo is scorching and at the speed the fingers are flying it is amazing the strings didn’t catch on fire.

The first ballad, can you call it a ballad, is the song “Out in the Cold”. It is full of synths that remind me a little of Aldo Nova’s Fantasy for some reason and then Styx. Strange combo. This is not what I want to hear from Priest. I want guitars. After almost two minutes of opening synths, we finally get to Halford and we get a softer Halford. Not as aggressive in his delivery. The song goes on for over 6 minutes it tries to be epic and isn’t bad by any means, it doesn’t have much of what I like about the band, but still has some shining moments and is saved by the guitar solo which Tipton & Downing solos almost always do.

“Wild Nights, Hot & Crazy Nights” is basically any generic 80’s glam band sexed up song. It is cheesy and blatantly ripping of the current scene. Rob doesn’t even sing it the way Rob normally does. And here’s the thing, I kinda like it and I kinda don’t. It is a mixed bag as I love that scene, but it isn’t Priest.

Now the band doesn’t take it up a notch with “Hot For Love”. It is much more rocking bordering on true metal. Rob has a little howl back to his voice. The song is still dripping in the 80’s rock scene as the chorus is catchy and the song hooks you in. At the same time it is relatively generic and although reaching to be big, never quite hit that goal. Still has a some great guitar work, but drums sound the same as the rest of the album, a little boring and bland.

“Reckless” comes in and saves the back half of the album from falling flat. The best song on Side Two and a great way to end the album. It is a solid rock track with a little less on the synths, thank God. It has a killer riff and Rob sings like only Rob can. The Metal God was back on this song. And as I’ve said a hundred times, you can’t beat Tipton and Downing. The saving graces of this album. Yes, the song is still a little 80’s, but leans more Priest and probably a great song to hear live.

The first bonus track is “All Fired Up” and let me tell you it is. The tempo is speed metal with a barrage of drums and some killer finger flying riffs. The solo has Tipton and Downing playing at the same time and the dual guitars kick this song in the ass. I think I would like to hear Twin Turbos if this is what was left off.

The second and file bonus track is the liver version of “Locked In” from 1986. And without the guitar synths it actually sounds like a slightly different song. It is now more rocker and less glammy which doesn’t make it better or worse. It makes it different. I think I like the studio song better, but catch me on a different day and that might be well…different.

Track Listing:

  1. Turbo Lover – Keeper
  2. Locked In – Keeper
  3. Private Property – Keeper
  4. Parental Guidance – Keeper
  5. Rock You All Around the World – Keeper
  6. Out in the Cold – Keeper (1/2 Point)
  7. Wild nights, Hot & Crazy Days – Keeper (1/2 Point)
  8. Hot for Love – Keeper (1/2 Point)
  9. Reckless – Keeper

Bonus Tracks:

  1. All Fired Up – Unreleased – Recorded during the Turbo Sessions
  2. Locked In (Live) – Kiel Auditorium, St, Louis, MO on May 23, 1986)

The Track Score is 7.5 out of 9 Tracks or 83%. As you see though, the first half of the album is really strong, but the back half falls pretty weak except for “Reckless”. I can see the turn off to people with the guitar synths added because it does change the dynamics of the band. My friend Mike said the drums were a little boring and I have to agree. They sounded the same on every song so I didn’t focus on them. I stayed with the overall song. Now, I do like this album a lot is I loved the whole 80’s glam rock scene, but I don’t like it as much as the last couple albums for that very same reason. It lost a little of who Priest was, but thankfully still gave us some great songs. Overall, I give the album a 4.0 out of 5.0 Stars as the first half of this album is totally killer and the album ends with one of the best songs on the album which made me want to start the thing over again. That is always a good sign.

UP NEXT: ‘Priest…Love!’ (1987)

THE COMPLETE ALBUMS COLLECTION SERIES:

  1. Rocka Rolla (1974)
  2. Sad Wings of Destiny (1976)
  3. Sin After Sin (1977)
  4. Stained Class (1978)
  5. Killing Machine / Hell Bent For Leather (1978)
  6. Unleashed in the East (1979)
  7. British Steel (1980)
  8. Point of Entry (1981)
  9. Screaming for Vengeance (1982)
  10. Defenders of the Faith (1984)
  11. Turbo (1986)
  12. Priest…Live! (1987)
  13. Ram it Down (1988)
  14. Painkiller (1990)
  15. Angel of Retribution (2005)
  16. Nostradamus (2008)
  17. A Touch of Evil: Live (2009)

46 thoughts on “Judas Priest – ‘Turbo’ (1986) – Album Review (The Complete Albums Collection Series)

  1. Great stuff here John. As I have said before I dig Turbo more now in 2021 than I did back in 86 as so much music was coming out plus I was 19 at the time and tried to keep up with all the albums coming out back then.
    Solid album and a change in gears sonically yet it still sounds like Priest. Always loved Locked In, Private Property, Reckless etc.
    Wasn’t Reckless supposed to be on the Top Gun soundtrack? Man if so the ball was dropped there. Still though a very strong record….

    Liked by 2 people

          1. I’ll feed you some of the lyrics, see if it comes flooding back.

            “I’m laying awake at night
            Can’t get you out of my mind
            All I can feel is my cock throb
            And a hand in the dark of some kind

            Where are you know? I feel something in my butthole”

            I should quit now while I’m ahead.

            Like

  2. Yes yes YES! This is by far my most favourite Priest album of the decade. Colossal and emphatic in so many ways, I was fortunate enough to witness them live first hand at Download. I’ve not been the same since hahaha

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I really enjoy “Turbo”. This album just sounds like COCAINE to me. Mid-80s, steely, cold, aggressive, manic, glossy. Some great tunes, but definitely of its era.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Judas Priest recorded ‘Turbo’ at Compass Point Studios, the same place where AC/DC recorded ‘Back in Black’? Wow, I learned something new today. I totally agree with you about ‘Turbo’ being a good (or decent) album, just not a good Judas Priest album. The synthesizers are the reason why I haven’t bought this album yet, despite liking some of the songs and wanting to support the underrated stuff. “Personal Property” is my favorite song on the album.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m glad you enjoyed the album overall. It was a cool experiment, but I’m glad they got rid of the synthesizers later on because that’s not the Judas Priest that we love. But I like the album cover, as it fits the glam metal scene, so I’ll have to get Turbo one day.

        Like

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