My first introduction to Judas Priest was via the “Turbo Lover” album that my cousin “Mega” had. Then “Mega” purchased the “Priest Live” video and I was blown away at hearing such classic songs in one release like “Metal Gods”, “Breaking the Law”, “The Sentinel”, “Electric Eye”, “Turbo Lover”, “Freewheel Burning”, “Living After Midnight” and “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin'”.
So I searched for Judas Priest in the discount bins as I was trying to maximise the $20 I had with three to five albums instead of one album. In 1987, Judas Priest was not one of those bands you found in the discount bins at record stores. Eventually, after “Painkiller” came out in the early Nineties, I came across “British Steel” for $5 on cassette. It wasn’t until the mid-Nineties, that I purchased “Screaming For Vengeance” and “Defenders of The Faith” on vinyl, via the second hand record store and record fairs. I was actually surprised that Judas Priest had a whole career, a whole catalogue, before I even got into their music. But with all things musical, I had limited cash, so I needed to choose wisely.
So my Priest soundtrack of my youth, was the Live album dubbed on cassette, the Painkiller album dubbed on cassette and the Ram It Down album dubbed on cassette. So I was a fan of the band since 1987 and I never spent a cent on their recorded music. Even when I purchased their albums in the Nineties via the record fairs and second hand record stores, the money I gave, was all pure profit to the store owners, as I purchased used albums. And the labels complain today about people not purchasing music.
This album is important for a variety of reasons;
- Certain songs proved to be the embryos of the Metalcore, Melodic Rock and Power Metal movements.
- The album moved Judas Priest away from the NWOHM brand, which was becoming an Achilles heel for some bands like Tygers Of Pan Tang and Diamond Head.
“The Hellion/Electric Eye”
This is a one-two knockout. The emotive harmony guitars in “The Hellion” kick things off nicely and then that riff to kick off “Electric Eye”. That one single riff spawned the whole Metalcore movement. My favourite track on the LP. Because of the riff, “Electric Eye” is instantly memorable.
You think you’ve private lives
Think nothing of the kind
There is no true escape
I’m watching all the time
Man, with all of our security agencies spying on us and our governments passing laws for more privacy violations, lyrics from 1982, about a Satellite spying on us, is not that far off from what is happening.
Back when I first heard the album, it was on LP. It was easy, you just lay back with the headphones and wait for the next song to start. However, when I listen to it today, with my headphones, I press repeat after this song finishes.
“Riding On The Wind”
It’s classic Priest. Priest always did Blues Metal excellent. Plus Halford breaks out the falsetto in the verses.
Tearing up through life
Million miles an hour
In the 80’s that is all we wanted to do. In the 2010’s it’s very different. The kids are tearing it up in their bedrooms, connected online and 24/7. There is no need to go out and let your hair down and connect with people. In the end, the term “speed of life” is summed up in those two lines.
It’s not the best song, but I dig the way it musically flows. If “Electric Eye” gave birth to the Metalcore movement, then “Bloodstone” would be a child of the Melodic Rock movement.
How much longer will it take
For the world to see
We should learn to live
And simply let it be
The term “Bloodstone” will probably be associated with Machine Head. Again, the lyrics are Halford’s take of what is happening in the world around 1981 and 1982. “Electric Eye” focused on government spying, “Riding on the Wind” focused on breaking free from social norms and “Bloodstone” focuses on learning to live together instead of against each other.
“(Take These) Chains”
The first 30 seconds is a Police song. Actually the verses are very similar to the Police. Then the rest is melodic rock.
It’s written by Bob Halligan, Jr.
Who’s that you say?
Well I said the same damn thing when I saw him listed as a songwriter. But it triggered a memory. So I went to my record collection and pulled out “Hot In The Shade” from Kiss, and there he was, listed as a song writer to “Rise to It” and “Read My Body” along with Paul Stanley. I then pulled out Bonfire’s “Point Blank” album and there he was again, listed as a co-writer to the excellent “Bang Down the Door”.
I remember seeing his name on other albums, so I went through my whole collection to see on what else he was listed as a co-writer. This is before you could Google his name and see. And there he was on “Midnite Dynamite” from Kix. Actually he is all over that album, having 7 co-writes out of 10. And there he was on Kix’s biggest hit, “”Don’t Close Your Eyes” from the “Blow My Fuse” album.
“Pain And Pleasure”
Musically, I love the groove. Lyrically it’s not the best, but the stomping beat is enough to get my head nodding and my foot tapping.
“Screaming For Vengeance”
The embryo of the Power Metal movement is right here. As frantic as the music is, it is Rob Halford’s falsetto vocals all the way through that define what Power Metal would become. The lyrics on this song are brilliant.
Hey listen, don’t you let ’em get your mind
Fill your brain with orders and that’s not right
They’re playing at a game that draws you closer
Till you’re livin’ in a world that’s ruled by fear
There is tons of attitude and anger in this track. The whole “1984 – Big Brother is watching” is throughout this album.
Everyone who makes it in the great escape
Leaves a thousand more who suffer in their wake
“You Got Another Thing Comin”
How cool is this song?
It was never meant to be a single. It was buried at the back end of the album. It took a radio DJ to start playing it back when DJ’s drove culture, before radio got shareholders. Hell, it was even a last minute addition to the album. So the song started to get traction via radio stations playing it, and when Sony caught on, they put some money in the marketing and officially released it as a single. The rest as they say is history.
One life, I’m gonna live it up
I’m takin’ flight, I said I’ll never give it up
There it is, the whole message of the early Eighties, the one that made Twisted Sister superstars with “We’re Not Gonna Take It”.
Judas Priest spent close to 18 months touring the US (from July 82 to December 83) and then they hit Europe. During these years, Judas Priest cemented their status as a force to be reckoned with in the Eighties. The victory lap that Judas Priest did each year after 1982 was because of “Screaming For Vengeance”.