Judas Priest – long standing British metal stalwarts who I don’t recall ever seeing mentioned on this site. One of those bands who were more successful in the USA than on home soil, and perhaps a left field choice for a book like this, as many of their songs don’t bear in depth analysis really. Nevertheless, in their prime Stained Class/British Steel/Screaming For Vengeance/Defenders of the Faith era they produced some great metal, albeit with tongue firmly in cheek at times.
This book covers what most would consider to be their best years, from their 1974 debut up to 1992’s Painkiller set, after which they parted company with vocalist Rob Halford – for those not familiar with him, a sort of metal version of Freddie Mercury. Indeed, the whole band was somewhat cliché ridden, almost a caricature of a text book metal band: the leather and studs, the onstage Harley, the twin lead guitars, including a Flying V of course, while the lyrics veered between standard rock tropes and the rhyming dictionary. Their early records though were a mixture of straight rock interspersed with longer prog influenced tracks, but this style was abandoned after a few albums to concentrate on shorter, punchier, more commercial songs. Of course the band became better known for good time songs such as Living After Midnight and Breaking The Law and the Queen-like United and Take On The World, but check out efforts such as Beyond The Realms of Death, Metal Gods, Ripper, Better By You, Better Than Me and Hell Bent For Leather for some top rock. The author does a great job of rounding up all the albums and outtakes for this band who never took themselves too seriously. I always enjoy these books, even when they relate to bands I’m not a particular fan of – there’s just something about them that draws me in, the background to the albums, the coverage of the individual songs, even notes on the album artwork.
Length of Read:Short
Might appeal to people who enjoyed…
The band did rather suffer from AC/DC-itis in that each album had a couple of killer songs together with a whole lot of ‘this’ll do’ filler. I always had a soft spot for their cover of Joan Baez’s Diamonds and Rust though – surely time for a thread on here of the most unusual/oddest choice of cover versions!
One thing you’ve learned
These days the band continues with two new guitarists – Ken Downing left after arguments with management amid his well publicised financial problems, while Glen Tipton can perform only occasionally due to his Parkinson’s diagnosis. However,any band that boasted a drummer by the name of Les Binks clearly have their feet on the ground.