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!!
For My Sunday Song #293, we are going to discuss the title track, “Nostradamus”, from the Judas Priest 2008 concept album ‘Nostradamus’. The album focuses on the life and times of the great 16th Century writer and prophecy maker which I think is brilliant. The album went to #11 on the Billboard Charts but I think fell flat after that as people just didn’t get it. They were wrong in my book. The title track did get nominated for a Grammy for Best Metal Performance but lost.
The song is an homage to the man himself. It celebrates everything about the man, the myth, the legend. It vindicates the man that was persecuted for his beliefs. He lived in the 16th Century so I am sure they thought he was a witch or evil with all his visions.
“Nostradamus” has some brilliance to it. 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 and has some classic Priest sounds and that Halford SCREAM!!!! What more could you want. I really love the epic, grandness feel to the song. It takes you on a journey and one you will want to travel again and again. The band went for it on this song and album I personally love it.
We are finally to the end of the Judas Priest Complete Albums Collection Series. And we are ending it with a ranking of all the Studio albums for the band which is a total of 18 albums to go through. That is a lot. I knew of Judas Priest and I had heard a ton of songs, but I had never dived deep in the band until I did this series. I received The Complete Albums Collection Box Set for Christmas 2020 and bought the 4 studio albums that were missing from the set and decided to review them all and it has been a blast. I will say that I am a huge fan now.
Out of the 18 albums, there are only 2 they have that I felt were below average and the rest are worth hearing at least to me. That isn’t bad to have 16 albums that rank at least a 3 or higher. My choices might be different from some people and that is okay as we like different things. I really enjoyed the bluesiness of the early albums and the more 80’s style and even the real heaviness of the more current records. I will even admit I liked one of the Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens albums. No matter what I heard, I found things I liked and didn’t like. But what I do know is that the original members of Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton, K.K. Downing and Ian Hill were a powerful group and there was a magic to their music together. I like Richie Faulkner as he brought a new life to the band and I really liked Scott Travis on drums as he was a force to be reckoned with behind that kit.
Judas Priest was not a one trick pony. They weren’t just heavy metal…they had a blues influence, glam influence, straight up hard rock, speed metal and even a little death metal at times. They could do it all. Any time they had dual guitar solos or Halford hit that trademark scream, I was all in. These guys are one of the best bands to come out of the UK and I can’t believe we have had 50 years of Judas Priest. What a ride it has been. Now, let’s see how I rank the albums and away we go…
For the band’s sixteenth studio album, they went somewhere they had never gone before and really pushed the boundaries of what they could do. “Nostradamus” was going to be a concept album about the man himself, Nostradamus. The idea was brought to the band by their manager, Bill Curbishley, way back in 2005. Eventually the band came around and work started on the album in 2006 and went through 2007. The album finally saw the light of day on June 16, 2008 and saw the band get their highest charting album to date at #11 (now realize that was only sales of 42,000 and in 2008 that had become a lot as album sales were way down).
The band would shed their speed and thrash metal sound and stick strictly to a more symphonic metal sound so if you were expecting anything from before you were in a shock. This was going to be so different than anything else they had done. The album turned in to a 2 CD set with 23 tracks and over a 103 minutes worth of music. You were taken on a journey through the life of Nostradamus and would get songs about his notorious prophecies and about the man himself. You can tell by the titles of the songs on the first disc they are about some dark prophecies that talk about war and the basically the end of the world. The album is full of orchestrated moments and even choirs and if you are looking for the classic Halford scream, you will only get that on the very rare occasion. Rob sings more in an operatic singing style and fits the music perfectly. This is the band stretching their limits and really reaching for the stars.
The band is still Rob Halford, K.K. Downing, Glenn Tipton, Ian Hill and Scott Travis on drums. Don Airey is still on keyboards and then you have Pete Whitfield who handles all the string instrumentation. The band was hitting on all cylinders and have given an album that has to be listened to as an album and from front to back in the order intended to get the full effect and follow along. And due to the length of the album there is no way we are going to go through song by song in any great detail so forgive me. I will stick with the highlights and there are many.
As you read yesterday, for Christmas I received Queen’s ‘Queen 40’ Box Sets. I also received this box set from Judas Priest called ‘The Complete Albums Collection’. Now this is not a very accurate title because it really isn’t the “Complete” albums collection as it is missing quite a bit. But before we get to tell you what it is missing, let me tell you why it is called the “Complete” album collection. That is because it contains all 17 Judas Priest albums featuring the classic line up of Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton, K. K. Downing and Ian Hill (2). That was the focus of the collection.
As a result, it is missing the 2 Ripper Owen albums including ‘Jugulator’ (1997) and ‘Demolition’ (2001) as well as 2 Live albums, ’98 Live Meltdown’ and ‘Live in London’ (2003). And since this was released in 2011, it is missing the two newer albums ‘Redeemer of Souls’ (2014) and ‘Firepower’ (2018) both Richie Faulkner on guitar and not K.K. Downing. Oh yeah, and the live album ‘Battle Cry’ from 2016. So technically this isn’t really the “Complete Albums Collection”…but I am okay with that as this is a great beginners set as you get a 17 albums for one low price to get things going.
Let us go through the timeline of what is included. But before we do that, all the CDs come in a cardboard sleeve that is similar to a vinyl album jacket with the original artwork recreated on the album jacket. There are no plastic cases and no CD booklet for each disc. Instead you get a 40 page booklet with photos, liner notes and album credits. And that is it. There is nothing extra special thrown in although a lot of the discs have a couple of the bonus tracks included. This really is just the CDs and no frills.