For My Sunday Song #296, we are going to discuss the song “Desert Plains” by Judas Priest. The song is from their 1981 album ‘Point of Entry’. The song wasn’t a single, but for me was one of the very few standout tracks on the album. The album went gold in the U.S. selling over 500,000 copies and went to #39 on the Billboard Charts. Not their best showing but that was all about to change with their next album.
“Desert Plains” can have a lot of meanings. I read it was inspired by the beautiful Arizona desert landscape as that is where Rob Halford was living. The song is possibly about riding your motorcycle down the lonely desert road aching to be with your lover and finally arriving at the end as there is a line “The engine roars between my thighs” that makes me think motorcycle, but I guess it could mean some other thing that is between his thighs getting all hot and bothered.
I also saw someone mention that the song is about life and death. The life part is the person on this side of death missing their lover terribly who has died. The other person, who is dead, is on the other side waiting for them so they can one day be together again. If that is the case then the person on this side of death must die because they are together again. That is a little morbid for me, so I personally lean towards the first one because the song does end with them falling in each others arms, but I don’t feel like they died.
The song opens with a loud, heavy drum beat from Dave Holland and is full of dual guitar work from Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing and a thumping bass line from Ian Hill. Rob Halford comes in and gives a serious tone to the vocals which almost feels a little ominous in its presentation. An album that already has “Heading Out to the Highway”, it is another song that feels like you are driving fast down the road 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.
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…
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.
Heading Out to the Highway – Keeper
Don’t Go – Keeper
Hot Rockin’ – Keeper
Turning Circles – Delete
Desert Plains – Keeper
Solar Angels – Keeper
You Say Yes – Delete
All The Way – Delete
Troubleshooter – Keeper(1/2 Point)
On The Run – Keeper
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.
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.