Judas Priest – ‘Priest…Live!’ (1987) – Album Review (The Complete Albums Collection Series)

It was time for Priest to release another live album. After the success of the band’s 1986 album ‘Turbo’ and the very successful tour called ‘Fuel for Life Tour’, the band was still riding high. It was decided to capture this new era of Priest with a live album. The album takes songs from two of the band’s shows on the tour. The first was from my hometown of Atlanta, Ga from the show on June 15, 1986 at the Omni. Back then I would’ve been 17 years old and about to start my Senior Year in High School which means I was in to the whole glam rock scene with the likes of Poison and Ratt and those bands. I wasn’t listening to Priest so completely missed that show…now I look on it sadly because what a show it would’ve been. The second show they took songs from was from the Dallas, TX show on June 27, 1986 at Reunion Arena. And from the sounds of this album, both shows were spectacular.

What I find really cool about this release is they did the same thing Kiss did with Alive! and Alive II. They did not repeat any tracks on the albums. Yep, all the songs on Priest…Live! were from the era after ‘Unleashed in the East’ so you get an entirely new set of songs. As a fan, I completely appreciate and love that fact. Then you can throw on both albums and play them back to back and get a killer show with no repeats. Good job guys.

The track listing is great with over 15 tracks covering the 5 albums. You get 5 from ‘Turbo’ which makes sense since that is the album they were touring at the time. You get 4 from ‘Defenders of the Faith’, 2 from ‘Screaming for Vengeance’, only 1 from ‘Point of Entry’ and 3 from ‘British Steel’. The version I have has 3 bonus tracks which is 1 from ‘Defenders of the Faith’, 1 from ‘Screaming for Vengeance’ and ‘Hell Bent for Leather’ which would technically be the only repeat, but since this is a bonus track and not on the original album it doesn’t count.

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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.

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Judas Priest – ‘Defenders of The Faith’ (1984) – Album Review (The Complete Albums Collection Series)

In May of 1983, Judas Priest played one of their biggest shows at the US Festival in California. They played on what was called Metal Night with bands like Motley Crue, Scorpions, Quiet Riot, Van Halen and Ozzy. It was a very memorable event. Then three short months later, the band was back at in the studio in Ibiza, Spain where they had recorded their prior album ‘Screaming For Vengeance’.

They recorded the album from September to November 1983 with Tom Allom again at the helm. Well, they weren’t recording the whole time because when they arrived all the studio equipment was gone. Apparently the owner of the studio had some money issues. They had to get all new equipment shipped in and had to get it in to the studio. Rob tells in his book, ‘Confess’, they had to put a bunch of logs together and put the giant console on it to help roll it in to the studio. That had to be a sight to see. They definitely worked hard to get that album made…when they weren’t partying in town.

The album was done and the sound was very much like ‘Screaming for Vengeance’. The band felt that had tapped in to something special with that album so they basically repeated it on ‘Defenders of Faith’. Now they didn’t repeat really, but they wanted a similar vibe and sonic feeling. Which they achieved. And they achieved it with the band in tack from the last album with Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton, K.K. Downing, Ian Hill and Dave Holland. The album was released on January 4, 1984 and went all the way to #18 on the Billboard charts and went Platinum in the US with over 1 million in sales.

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Judas Priest – ‘Screaming for Vengeance’ (1982) – Album Review (The Complete Albums Collection Series)

For me, ‘Point of Entry’ was a little disappointing. The hard, heavy sound of the band was replaced with a more melodic album that was trying to repeat the success of ‘British Steel’, but failed. ‘Screaming for Vengeance” was the band’s answer back that they could still deliver heavy metal music and let me tell you they did just that. This time around, the band went off to Spain to record the album in Ibizia at Ibizia Sound Studios. If you are wondering why not record in England, well, due to tax issues in England, bands would find it better to not live in England all year long so this let them be out of the country for a spell (and probably why Halford had moved to Arizona years earlier). Okay, that was not really necessary information so let’s try and give you something better.

This album is a first for Priest. No, not the their first album silly. This is the first Priest album to feature a drummer who had played on more than two albums. That is right, Dave Holland was the first Judas Priest drummer to make it on three albums!! Wow!! Give yourself a hand boys, because for you, that is impressive. Dave would actually go on to play on four more albums plus a Live album. Congrats Mr. Holland. The drummer curse was now over. The band is still intact with Dave, Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton, K.K. Downing and Ian Hill.

During this album, Tom Allom was a task master. The label was putting pressure on the band to deliver and album that the American fans would appreciate. A hard hitting, true heavy metal album. The label felt the band was about to break in America and they wanted the bands to deliver the goods that would do that. And well, we will see if they do…here’s a hint…they do!!

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Judas Priest – ‘Point of Entry’ (1981) – Album Review (The Complete Albums Collection Series)

After the tour supporting the band’s last album, ‘British Steel’, the band went right back in the studio to do the follow-up, ‘Point of Entry’, which would be the band’s eighth studio album. The last album did so well, the band didn’t want to change things up so we basically got the same album as before, except maybe not quite as heavy or as good. The hauled all their equipment to Ibiza Studios in Spain to record this one and not a bad place to be I can imagine, but did it bring any fresh inspiration? I think not. I think a big problem was the band had a real substance abuse problem, especially Rob as he

The band, believe it or not, stayed in tack with the same drummer as last time, David Holland. That alone is a massive achievement for the band. The remaining cast of characters were still Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton, K.K. Downing and Ian Hill. The main core of the band. They recorded the album from October-November of 1980 and released the album on February 26, 1981. I won’t say the reception was lukewarm, as the album did go gold and produce a few singles. It only went to #39 in the US and #14 in the UK which isn’t a whole lot worse then the prior album, but the prior one did go platinum.

I think a big problem was the band had a real substance abuse problem, especially Rob as he tried to cope with his every growing loneliness being a gay metal rocker. But I think another problem was this resort like atmosphere of the Spanish island, gave the band way too many distractions. They would some time working and some time riding motorcross and partying. Hard to get proper work done when you are focusing on other things. I think these distractions led to a slightly disjointed album.

The album though does kick off with a great, classic Priest tune “Heading Out to the Highway”. It opened 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.

“Don’t Go” comes up next and thumps along and slow yet heavy beat and is quite seductive and sexy. The song then explodes at the chorus which is very catchy. The guitar solo is the highlight as it really screams to be heard. It is almost the climax of this seductive dance.

“Hot Rockin'” brings it back to a more uptempo metal pace. It is a straight up rocker and one of my favorites on the album. It is full of energy and Halford attacks it with gusto and another guitar solo that is just as brutal as Rob’s vocals. By the time the song ends you are exhausted yet dying for more.

Next we get “Turning Circles” that opens with a non-sounding Priest guitar riff. It isn’t as gritty and powerful. The song feels like it is going in circles and unable to find any place to go. The music is repetitive sounding and leaves you wanting more. Rob sounds great vocally, but I found it dull overall.

But don’t fret, as the next song, “Desert Plains”, gets right back on track. It opens with a loud, heavy drum peat from Holland and if full of duel guitar work from Tipton and Downing and thumping bass line from Hill. Halford comes on and gives a serious tone which almost feels a little ominous in presentation. It is another song that feels like you are driving fast down the road weaving in and out of cars and that there is a dangerous element you can’t escape from and is following you about to catch you. Overall, this is a killer track and might be my favorite track on the album. A great way to close out the first half of the album.

The second half of the album kicks off with “Solar Angels” and a some great dual guitar work. Plus you get a Tipton solo and then a dual solo at the end. I think the highlight of the song is the musicianship as it seems to be more music and less vocals. There are some wild space sounding effects thrown in to go with the song title and add some flair. It is a decent track and might be the better song on the back half. The album starts to lose me from here.

“You Say Yes” is 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.

Next up is “All The Way” and I’m not sure this is a metal song. It seems so contrived and the band seems to be reaching for a radio hit or commercial friendly sound. It seems like they are trying to write a party song as it is too chipper and is that supposed to be a handclap sound…oh goodness, spare me.

“Troubleshooter” is a little better as it is a little darker and has a great groove to it. The guitar work is sensational with Tipton starting the solo and Downing finishing it up. I do love when they share the solo, that is always worth a listen. I think it helps save the song…a little.

The final track, “On the Run”, actually has a strong opening and Halford’s vocals are soaring. He sounds smooth and the high notes are sensational and what I love from him. Give me this Priest any day of the week. Another hard, driving beat and some great drumming by Holland as well. They saved Side 2 from being a dismal failure with this track. This is more like what I want to hear from the band.

The Bonus Tracks on this one consist of “Thunder Road” which was recorded during the “Ram It Down” sessions from 1988 which makes no sense for it to be the bonus track on an album from 1981. It is a solid, heavy ass rocking song though. Production wise, it doesn’t sound clean and fully finished, but song wise, it is great and better than a lot of songs on this album. I like Hill’s bass as it is the Thunder on this Road (see what I did there!!).

The next bonus song is “Desert Plains” which was recorded live at Kiel Auditorium, St. Louis, Missouri; 23 May 1986. The song feels like it is sped up a little from the studio track. There is a lot of double bass from Holland how was still with the band in 1986 believe it or not. The studio version is still better, but this shows how the band can tweak a song live and turn it in to something a little different. Now it is faster and heavier and still pretty good.

Track Listing:

  1. Heading Out to the Highway – Keeper
  2. Don’t Go – Keeper
  3. Hot Rockin’ – Keeper
  4. Turning Circles – Delete
  5. Desert Plains – Keeper
  6. Solar Angels – Keeper
  7. You Say Yes – Delete
  8. All The Way – Delete
  9. Troubleshooter – Keeper (1/2 Point)
  10. On The Run – Keeper

Bonus Tracks:

  1. Thunder Road
  2. Desert Plains (Live)

The Track Score is 6.5 out of 10 or 65%.  This is the first album so far I have actually been a little disappointed in.  Don’t get me wrong, it has its moments, but overall it was the first album I didn’t see growth of some kind. It was ‘British Steel’ light or 2.0…but not as good.  They tried to copy the success of ‘British Steel’ to no avail.  They had too many distractions and the band was in a bad place with this one and you can tell from the sound of these songs.  Overall, I will only give it a 3.0 out of 5.0 Stars as I still liked more than half the tracks, the rest was just weak.

UP NEXT: ‘Screaming for Vengeance’ (1982)

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)

Judas Priest – ‘British Steel’ (1980) – Album Review (The Complete Albums Collection Series)

Judas Priest had massive success with the live album ‘Unleashed in the East’ and now it was time to hit the studio again. However, this time they would lose their drummer yet again. Les Binks was not paid for his work on ‘Unleashed in the East’ and was slightly pissed and so he left the band forcing Priest to find their 7th drummer all thanks to manager Mike Dolan not paying Binks.

The band found a new drummer by the name of Dave Holland formerly of the band Trapeze. Dave would stay with the band all the way up to 1989 which will be the longest running drummer at that point in time. The band started recording in December 1979 at Startling Studios in London, but they weren’t feeling it. They ended up at Ringo Starr’s house where they finished the album by February 1980. The band was in awe recording at Ringo’s house because prior to Ringo owning the house, it was John Lennon’s house and they couldn’t believe they were in the same house as two former Beatles where a lot of history had been made.

The album saw its release on April 14, 1980 and they would see the album go to #34 in the US and #4 in the UK and the album would reach platinum status selling well over 1 Million copies. The album would go on to have 3 Singles and we would see the band keep to a more accessible sound they started doing with ‘Killing Machine’. Judas Priest was hitting it big and a Metal was becoming more mainstream thanks to albums like this. This was sort of the start of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBH).

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Judas Priest – ‘Unleashed in the East’ (1979) – Album Review (The Complete Albums Collection Series)

While on tour in support of their album ‘Killing Machine’/’Hell Bent For Leather’, Judas Priest decided to record a couple shows for use on a live album. The shows that were recorded were the February 10 & 15, 1979 shows at Kosei Nenkin Hall and Nakono Sun Plaza in Tokyo, Japan. After 5 studio albums, it was time for the world to see what Priest was like live for those that had not seen them in concert. The 70’s were big for Live albums, as seen by UFO, Peter Frampton and Kiss, so why not Judas Priest.

There is a lot of debate on whether the album is actually live. The short answer is yes, it is….sort of. The long answer is much more complicated. The music is definitely live with maybe a few touch-ups in the studio. The vocals, however, are not truly live. Yes, a live person sang them live in to a studio microphone, but these are not the vocals from that show because according to Rob Halford, his vocals on the tape get messed up and they had to be redone. They did record him singing as he would in a live concert setting except he was in a studio. Which explains probably how some of those notes were hit so perfectly. There is a common name people call this album and it is usually, Unleashed in the Studio. Regardless of any of the above, it doesn’t seem to have bothered the buying public because the album quickly went Platinum and is one of the best live albums of all time thanks to the work of producer Tom Allom. You know Tom, he was a recording engineer and producer of the likes of Black Sabbath and he produced Def Leppard’s debut album ‘On Through the Night’.

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‘Confess: The Autobiography’ by Rob Halford

If you follow my site at all, you know I am in the middle of a Judas Priest Review Series where I am reviewing all the albums from the Judas Priest Collection Box Set (and a few more it missed). I thought as I am immersing myself in their catalog, why not find out some information about the band by reading Rob Halford’s book, ‘Confess’. They sum up nicely below who Rob Halford is but it is really a bland description. I think they left out is that Rob is the ‘Metal God’, Rob is a man who waves the Rainbow Flag proudly, Rob is sober for over 30 years, Rob is human, which means Rob is fallible.

The story of Rob Halford, told by Rob Halford, covers a lot of time. It starts off him as a child growing up in the Black Country of the U.K. His stint where he wanted to be an actor, and then his discovery that he could sing. And man can he sing. It spends most of the time talking about his time with Priest, but it really is about Rob, the person. His struggles in life, but not just with being gay. He struggles with that, but it was more about his struggles with hiding it as being the lead singer of a Heavy Metal band and what would be the fall out if it came out. Honestly though, he didn’t really try to hide it because a lot of the early Priest songs actually talk about it, but no one was perceptive enough at the time to figure it out. The story really is about his struggles with finding love and with trying to have sex while on the road while the band had easy pickings of the female groupies, Rob had to go to seedy truck stops and bathrooms to find love. It didn’t always go well as we find out when Rob has his own George Michael moment. Rob was very lonely, for a very long time and that caused a lot of drinking and a lot of drugs and then rehab. He had many bad relationships with guys that were really straight, it was a tough road. Rob, however, found his way sober and finally found love and it all had a happy ending, thank goodness.

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Judas Priest – ‘Killing Machine’ / ‘Hell Bent For Leather’ (1978) – Album Review (The Complete Albums Collection Series)

Judas Priest wasted no time in jumping back in the studio after the Stained Class Tour. That album was released in February 1978 and ‘Killing Machine’ came out 8 months later on October 9, 1978. The band recorded the album between August/September of that year and they were a well-oiled machine at this point. The album would hit #128 on the US Charts and it would go Gold showing that a good metal album didn’t need to go high on the charts to still be successful. However, the album in the U.S. was different than the U.K.. In the U.S., they couldn’t use the name ‘Killing Machine’ as they had seen a rash of school shootings and thought that name was too aggressive for the U.S. market. The name was changed to ‘Hell Bent for Leather’ and they re-arranged the track listing.

Speaking of leather, Priest decided it was time for some changes, not in personnel, but in the style and substance. First is style. Rob had become a little obsessed with the whole leather and stud outfits as Rob and the band took to the change with no hesitation. The classic Priest look was now set. Then the change was substance. The band worked on making the songs more accessible and decided to shy away from the fantasy themes and make things more real, more what the U.S. audience would want to hear And I would say they succeeded as this is more a straight up metal album, all the songs are relatively short and although still have some dark themes, they are more radio-friendly might be a good way to say it. It was the start of some great things to come with the band.

Speaking of band, the line-up is unchanged yet again. It is still Rob Halford, K.K. Downing, Glenn Tipton, Ian Hill and Les Binks. However, it would Les Binks’ last studio album with the band as by the time the next studio album rolls around, Priest needs a new drummer…AGAIN!! But for now, let’s have the music do the talking.

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Judas Priest – ‘Stained Class’ (1978) – Album Review (The Complete Albums Collection Series)

After finishing up the tour for ‘Sin After Sin’, the band didn’t rest for too long before they jumped right back in the studio. They were on a brutal schedule of album, tour, album, tour, etc… It can be exhausting. The band’s fourth album and second with Columbia records was recorded between October and November 1977. The album, ‘Stained Class’, was released on February 10, 1978 and would barely break the Billboard 200 Albums chart going to #173. But the album did go Gold selling over 500,000 copies, but reality is that album only went Gold after the success of the band in the early 80’s. Still Gold nonetheless.

The band saw something strange happen with this album. They got a new drummer which would now be the fourth drummer in four albums. That isn’t the strange part as their drummer turnover has been legendary. The strange part is new drummer, Les Binks, actually stayed on after the album was done and would go on to record two more albums with the band. That is a huge record for them and they should be so proud of themselves for not letting another drum go. And that wasn’t all. This is the ver first album that all 5 band members got writing credits on an album. Yes, Les got one credit and so did long time bassist, Ian Hill.

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