A few weeks back I was on the live stream ‘Grab A Stack of Rock’ with Mike Landano and Harrison, The Mad Metal Man and we went through the giant 50th Anniversary Judas Priest box set. During the show, as we discussed each album, we picked are least favorite and our favorite song off each album. I thought that was a great idea and I thought I’d turn it in to a post as a recap. So, here are my picks for the Best and Worst song on every Judas Priest studio album and there are 18 Albums!! Now, let’s preface this with the fact that these are my choices and not necessarily yours as we can have different opinions. If you watched the show you will see that sometimes my worst song was their favorite so you never know what people like and we all like different things or this would be a very dull world. I hope you enjoy!!
Rocka Rolla (1974)
BEST SONG – “CHEATER”: Written by Halford and Downing. The song has a blues hard rock sound and opens with a great riff and slams it home from there. I love the swagger to the song, the cowbell and the harmonica all screamed classic rock and right up my alley.
WORST SONG – “CAVIAR AND METHS”: An instrumental track written by Atkins, Downing and Hill and at only 2 minutes it didn’t really have time to develop in to much of anything. It is too short, too repetitive and didn’t do anything for me, almost a waste of time and space as it doesn’t make sense with the album.
Sad Wings of Destiny (1976)
BEST SONG – “VICTIM OF CHANGES”: An epic almost 8 minute track written by Halford, Downing, Tipton and Al Atkins. The song opens slowly and breaks into a cool double guitar riff. It seems to be a very complex song with lots of rhythm changes and heck even the moods and vibes change throughout. The song is so full of layers and textures that it keeps you engrossed which is needed for such a long track. The thing that clinches the song is Halford’s falsettos and that dramatic, climactic scream at the end. It is legendary!!
WORST SONG – “EPITAPH”: A ballad written by Glenn Tipton. Tipton does play a nice piano on it, but Halford has turned to a crooner and his vocals are in a much deeper register. I will be honest, I don’t like when he sings in that register. It completely throws the vibe of those first two songs out the window. I could do without this one, but it was nice to see the softer side of the band.
Sin After Sin (1977)
BEST SONG – “DISSIDENT AGGRESSOR”: The song opens with that classic Halford scream that blows your freaking mind. The guitars are brutal and the double bass drum by Simon will lay waste to everyone that hears it. The song is aggressive, nasty and everything that is great about Priest. Tipton and Downing trade solos and you are treated to a feast for your ears. However, this feast is one where you never get full. You can devour at the buffet all night long and never tire.
WORST SONG – “LAST ROSE OF SUMMER”: On an album that has no bad songs, this had to be the choice. It definitely sounds like a 70’s ballad, but it has its charm as Halford is warm and inviting with his vocals. It meanders along and is actually a pleasant track, but it is a little slow and does drag the vibe of the album down a little.
Stained Class (1978)
BEST SONG – ‘BEYOND THE REALMS OF DEATH”: This song sees the band slow things down a little. This song is Halford’s and we see Les Binks get his first writing credit. The song is about a man who is kind of ostracized from society and ends up killing himself. The song is somber and even a little sympathetic to the man. The song feels like you are taken on a journey in an almost fantasy-like vibe. The musicianship on this one is masterful on all fronts and anytime you get two guitar solos (one by Tipton and one Downing) you know you are in for a treat. This is truly a master class on what is best about this band.
WORST SONG – “STAINED CLASS”: The title track has that signature Priest riff and the song chugs along with layers of Halford’s vocals and some serious riffage and another great solo, but the song doesn’t seem to go any where exciting (even though it is trying so hard) and seems to all sound the same.
Killing Machine / Hell Bent For Leather (1978)
BEST SONG – “BEFORE THE DAWN”: The album’s only ballad and I really love this track. It is filled with sadness that Halford’s vocals emote nicely. The song is about a couple having troubles and one of them is leaving before the morning light. It is very heartbreaking and Priest have captured that nicely and when the guitar solo comes in it is like a tug at the heart as you are watching the person walking away. It is really powerful. I didn’t realize they could do ballads so well.
WORST SONG – “EVIL FANTASIES”: The final track on the album and Rob goes all nasty with this vocal delivery as it is unlike anything else on the album. It seems more as centerpiece from Rob as the band isn’t doing much in the background except for a constant riff and Binks slamming the drum beat with all his might. It doesn’t match the rest of the albums sonics and seems more Filler than Killer.
British Steel (1980)
BEST SONG – “BREAKING THE LAW”: This may be the first song I heard form the band while watching MTV and therefore, holds a special place in my heart. The opening guitar riff was awesome and Halford’s vocals were badass and tough while not the usual higher register he hits. Holland’s drumming along with Hill’s bass kept this song driving forward. The part with the glass breaking the sirens with Halford screaming “You don’t know what it’s like” I always thought was killer. The song made you feel like you were doing something illegal and for a 12 year old kid, that was enough.
WORST SONG – “YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE OLD TO BE WISE”: I feel the song is trying to be something bigger than it is. I do love Halford’s scream on the word “Wise” that drags on and on, but the song doesn’t seem to get where its going and leaves me expecting more and never delivering the goods.
Point of Entry (1981)
BEST SONG – “HEADING OUT TO THE HIGHWAY”: It opens with a great dual guitar riff from Downing & Tipton and then great rhythm section from Hill & Holland and then Halford bad ass guy vocals sounding all tough and mean. It is a great driving song as its speedy tempo makes you want to crank it up and push the foot on the pedal a little harder. I remember seeing the song and MTV and cranking the TV as loud as it would go which wasn’t that loud as it was such a crappy TV.
WORST SONG – “YOU SAY YES”: A song with a pretty awful chorus. The rest isn’t much better, but this song screams filler even if there is some cool bass by Ian Hill, though not cool enough to save the song. It is quite dreary and I am ready to move on to the next track.
Screaming For Vengeance (1982)
BEST SONG – “YOU’VE GOT ANOTHER THING COMING”: When the song kicks in there is something absolutely special about it. Instantly you hear a guitar sound like none other. The song feels important, groundbreaking and like nothing I’d ever heard before. For me, it might be my all time favorite song of Priest. It is head and shoulders above everything else they’ve done and they’ve done some amazing songs prior to this album and on it. I don’t know how to describe the ecstasy of joy I feel for this song. It is heavy, yet melodic and it has an energy to it that is infectious and the one song I can never tire of from the band. I am trying to think of other ways to describe how great I think this song is, but at a loss for words now.
WORST SONG – “PAIN AND PLEASURE”: What might be the weakest song on the album, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think it is great as there is no bad song on the album. Rob’s delivery on this one is not quite as smooth and gives a different look at what Rob can do. Rob is a little grittier and doesn’t hit the signature high notes, but the song still works. It is a hard driving, methodic in approach track that is slowed down from the prior songs and helps bring variety to the album. A slow chugger that I did find better with each listen.
Defenders of the Faith (1984)
BEST SONG – “EAT ME ALIVE”: The most controversial song on the album thanks to the PMRC movement. The Parents Music Resource Group, that was started by Tipper Gore, had this song as #3 on their 15 song list that they objected to and felt was offensive. I can’t imagine why as it was only about a guy giving another guy a blow job. Whatever were they thinking. Priest was trying to be corruptive, they were just doing a song that was a little tongue-in-cheek and Rob was being Rob with his lyrics. Anyway, the song is great and rocks out. It is extremely catchy and has a great grove that moves the song forward at a blistering tempo. You can’t help but be “sucked” in by it.
WORST SONG – “NIGHT COMES DOWN”: It is ballad which is a little slow and a little monotonous in its groove. The chorus is smooth enough, but it feels like a song that is trying to go somewhere but is lost and roaming around trying to find its destination, yet never arriving. Going round and round in circles with wheels spinning and every place looking the same and total confusion sets in and they stop the car and cry because they are never going to get out of this never-ending loop. Okay, what just happened…What the hell was that…sorry I got off on a tangent. Needless to say, the weakest song on the album for me.
BEST SONG – “TURBO LOVER”: The album opens with the 80’s glam rock track and 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.
WORST SONG – “WILD NIGHT, HOT & CRAZY DAYS”: The song 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.
Ram It Down (1988)
BEST SONG – “BLOOD RED SKIES”: The most epic song on the album which starts off slower and it sounds like we are in space or something. There are some acoustic guitars and Rob comes in soft and gentle to keep with the feel of the music. His falsettos are stellar. The song kicks up the tempo with some guitar synthesizer sounds, heavier drumming. Rob changes his vocal approach as well getting a little more sinister and angrier. The song takes me back to earlier Priest when they were doing a little more Prog stuff.
WORST SONG – “JOHNNY B. GOODE”: Then we get to the love/hate song of the album. The song is sort of a cover and sort of not. The lyrics all from the Chuck Berry classic song, but Priest re-wrote the music entirely. The song was done for the Anthony Michael Hall move called ‘Johnny B. Goode’ which was horrible by the way. Rob’s vocals style on this is horrible and I don’t like his delivery at all. The song is really painful. Priest is great at making covers be their own, but this one they completely missed the mark. Now some people like this song, I’m not one of them.
BEST SONG – “BETWEEN THE HAMMER AND THE ANVIL”: A heavy track that is more in line with what we are used to from Priest. It is a solid rocker and a catchy title with some nice moments. I do like the hammer hitting the anvil sound effect added to the song and there is some killer guitar work from the boys. And Rob sounds great and I love the inflection he adds to the word “anvil” when he sings and he has some great screams at the end.
WORST SONG – “ONE SHOT AT GLORY”: The song is another rocker, but not as heavy as the first half of the album. It is an okay song, some more pounding drumming from Scott and more from the masterclass professors of Tipton and Downing. All-in-all, a decent track but not much more than that.
BEST SONG – “BULLET TRAIN”: The song title lives up to its name. It is fast and heavy and comes at you like a bullet. It is the second single off the album and definitely one of the catchier songs on the album and for that it hits the mark and is for sure a keeper. The guitar riffs on this one are killer and the boys deliver another solo accompanied by the extremely ballistic drumming of Scott Travis on that double kick drum. It is brutal and awesome at the same time. I even like the Ripper piece we he seems to be singing back and forth to himself, to me that was a cool touch. All-in-all just a stellar track.
WORST SONG – “DECAPITATE”: The song title is as abrasive as the music. The song is slow and sort of plods along to no where. So far, might be the worst song on the album and that is saying a lot. The guitar sound is lacking, the singing is lacking, it is all simply lacking.
BEST SONG – “SUBTERFUGE”: A real gem for me as this was totally unexpected. A great rhythm section on the song that shouldn’t be overlooked, but as usual for me is the guitar sound that is the force behind the song. The guitars have a similar vibe to “One on One” and as I said with that song, give me a whole album of it. I like the industrial feel and even a a little Rob Zombie vibe going.
WORST SONG – “DEVIL DIGGER”: The song opens with more killer riffs and some cool effects added to them. Vocally, however, the song fell short. Ripper was actually a little boring and I don’t think I’ve ever felt that way before. Maybe it is the lyrics and not him. I didn’t connect to this one at all, but the guitars were great as usual.
Angel of Retribution (2005)
BEST SONG – “ANGEL”: A true ballad and I think this might be one of the best ballads they have ever done. Rob’s vocals on this might even be the best of the album. His vocals are smooth at times and full of emotion and it is just him and an acoustic guitar for most of the song. It has a very melancholy tone and is actually quite moving. The bass comes in around the middle and then some electric guitars for the solo. The drums come in towards the end and brings the full band in to play. It is a beautifully constructed song and might be the best song on the album…who am I kidding, it is the best song on the album.
WORST SONG – “LOCHNESS”: The final track on the album is the longest one at 13 minutes. It is about old Nessie and I am not sure what they were going for here. Are they trying to go back to their early prog roots or what I am not sure. The song is heavy and feels very evil and there are some musical moments I like, but overall it lacks so much. The song is cheesy at times and when Rob hits the chorus, oh man, shoot me now it is so bad. I think the song is trying to be more than it can be as there aren’t enough shining moments to lift it above its dreariness.
BEST SONG – “NOSTRADAMUS”: Rob is full on operatic in his vocals and he really hits some great notes at the beginning and then the band comes in and slams it home with a massive Halford scream. It does actually have a little of the speed metal, the classic Priest sound and that Halford SCREAM!!!! What more could you want. The song is an homage to the man himself. It celebrates everything about the man, the myth, the legend. It is a reminder of everything that is great about Priest. An utterly brilliant track!!
WORST SONG – “VISIONS”: The song sees Nostradamus getting overcome by his visions and not understanding them anymore but finally accepting them for what they are. The song is a little boring despite liking the idea of the song. It does have a solo which there weren’t enough of on the album, but overall fell flat.
Redeemer of Souls (2014)
BEST SONG – “HALLS OF VALHALLA”: The band hits their stride as this might be the shining achievement of the whole album. The dramatic guitar opening is then filled with a brutal guitar riff and Scott’s drum. Rob comes screaming in and that classic Priest piss and vigor is back. A cross between old Priest and Black Sabbath, we are treated to brilliant metal masterpiece. Rob really stretches his vocal range giving it a full workout and that is all we want to hear. He goes from a guttural growl to the highest of highs almost effortlessly. When I hear the mention of Asgard in the lyrics, I expect Thor to show up or hell, even Loki, but that doesn’t happen.
WORST SONG – “HELL & BACK”: A slower track, almost ballad realm with its opening, but then turns it up a notch. The song shows some promise but seems very contrived and seems to lumber on aimlessly. It feels like it wants to go to another level but never reaches it as it sounds tired and bored.
BEST SONG – “NEVER THE HEROES”: Their foot comes off the gas with this one and we get a pure melodic blissful song. It shows the softer side of Priest and Halford’s vocals deliver nothing but greatness. Usually with the pounding drums and guitar, I tend to miss out on Ian’s bass playing, but this one has that deep, low sound that helps take this one up a notch. But it is the layers of vocals and the harmonies it creates on the chorus that takes it over the top. This is a solid hard rock song and a nice time to change the pacing of the album. One of the coolest tracks they’ve done.
WORST SONG: – “LONE WOLF”: The album is getting a little long in the tooth by the time you get to this song. It is an okay song, but surrounded by everything else you are starting to feel that we have enough at this point. There is nothing that jumps out at me with this one and I’ve listened to this album a lot.
And there you have it. My opinion on the best and the worst song on every Judas Priest studio album. Let me know some of your favorites and some of you least favorites…or even ones you hate. Thanks for hanging around so long and I hope you enjoyed it. If you did, maybe we will get more of these as this was a lot of fun to do. Have a great day.
If you want to watch the Judas Priest show we did on Grab A Stack of Rock…click on the video below…