The Best and Worst of Judas Priest (Part 2)

Official "Epitaph" farewell tour image, featuring new guitarist Richie Faulkner (top left) who is taking K.K. Downing's place on this tour.
Official "Epitaph" farewell tour image, featuring new guitarist Richie Faulkner (top left) who is taking K.K. Downing's place on this tour.

Continuing Our Trip Through Time With the Metal Gods...

Hello and welcome to Part 2 of "The Best 'n' Worst of Judas Priest!" I've taken it upon myself to dig through the band's extensive catalog of utterly bad-ass, classic leather-n-studs Heavy Metal, and recommend which of their many CDs are most worth your time and money. In our last entry we covered "The Essentials," and now we'll continue delving into the good, the bad, and the rest of the band's studio output.

Fan Favorites

In this section we'll discuss Judas Priest albums that may be highly regarded by the band's fan base, but are not necessarily well known outside of the metal community. In other words, while just about everybody knows "Breakin' the Law" and "You've Got Another Thing Comin'," not as many know "Jawbreaker" or "Desert Plains." If you're a soccer Mom who's only recently discovered Judas Priest thanks to that Honda mini-van commercial featuring "The Hellion" and you're curious to hear more, any of these albums would be a nice place to start.

DEFENDERS OF THE FAITH (CBS/Sony, 1984) The follow up to JP's platinum smash SCREAMING FOR VENGEANCE never quite achieved the lofty sales heights of its predecessor, but it's a damn fine hunk of molten steel in its own right and may in fact be one of the Priest's most bad-ass albums overall. The cover depiction of a huge metallic creature with fangs and claws bared pretty much sums this one up before you even hit the "play" button. Inside you'll find "Freewheel Burning," another early stab at speed metal JP style, and crushing goodies like the epic "Sentinel," the doomy "Love Bites," and the anthemic title track.

POINT OF ENTRY (CBS/Sony, 1981) My brother and I hold this one near and dear to our hearts because the first Judas Priest song we ever heard - "Headin' Out to the Highway" - comes from this album. Who knows, if we hadn't seen that video on MTV one fateful afternoon in 1981, we may never have become the metal heads that we are today! The Priest fanhood seems to be divided on this record; those who love it, REALLY love it, while others don't rank it very highly at all. I will say that when the band is "on" (as in tracks like the aforementioned "Highway," the snappy "Hot Rockin'" and the moody "Desert Plains") POINT OF ENTRY rocks like a mutha, but it is unfortunately saddled with a couple of turkey tracks like the goofy "Turning in Circles" and irritating "You Say Yes." This one is probably destined to remain a cult favorite.

SIN AFTER SIN (CBS/Sony, 1977) Priest's third album tends to be overlooked by all but the most diehard fans. Dark, doomy, atmospheric, and morose, this is probably the most depressing album in the JP catalog. I know I certainly didn't "get" this one at all when I first heard it as a teen, but when I revisited it years later it finally "clicked" with me and now I reach for it quite often. Fun fact: the disc was produced by Roger Glover of Deep Purple fame. Key tracks: "Sinner," "Starbreaker," "Last Rose of Summer" and "Call For the Priest/Raw Deal."

HELL BENT FOR LEATHER (CBS/Sony, 1979) Many people will probably tell me that his one should've been filed under "The Essentials" in my last entry, but what the hell, it's my list. Sandwiched in between two other classics, 1978's STAINED CLASS and 1980's BRITISH STEEL, HELL BENT FOR LEATHER (also known as KILLING MACHINE if you live outside of the U.S.) was the album where Priest found their direction and settled into their black leather biker/outlaw personas, a business move that would serve them well into the next decade. The title track has become one of JP's most enduring live-concert staples,

The Wild Cards!

Here are some of Judas Priest's more hotly-debated album selections. Even amongst diehard fans of the band, opinions differ widely about the worthiness of the following discs. In other words, proceed with caution.

JUGULATOR (CMC International, 1997) Released after a seven-year layoff and featuring the debut of new American vocalist Tim "Ripper" Owens, JUGULATOR remains Priest's most controversial album, hands down. At the time, the idea of Judas Priest releasing an album without Rob Halford behind the mic seemed like a no-win situation. Giving credit where credit's due, Owens (who was plucked out of an Ohio-based Judas Priest tribute band) certainly gave it the old college try and did a great job on this album, which comes across as PAINKILLER's heavier, nastier little brother. Musically, the band was in fine shape on JUGULATOR but fans simply weren't ready for a Priest without Rob at the helm. Perhaps this is why JUGULATOR is one of the few Judas Priest albums that is now out of print.

ROCKA ROLLA (Gull/RCA, 1974) Priest's hippie-dippy debut album is truly a fascinating listen, but be warned that it's a far cry from the crushing metal that the band became known for on later recordings. On ROCKA ROLLA, the young Judas Priest were definitely wearing their influences (mainly Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple) on their sleeves and hadn't found their own sound yet. The raw talent is there, but it's utterly unlike anything else in the JP catalog. The original vinyl version (with the soda-bottle cap cover art) is worth owning simply for the hilarious band photos on the back cover (love K.K. Downing's Huggy Bear pimp hat!), and the fact that it credits "Bob" Halford (not "Rob") with "vocals and harmonica." The mind boggles at what Judas Priest might sound like today (or if they'd even still be around today!) if they'd continued with the direction found on this album.

RAM IT DOWN (CBS/Sony, 1988) RAM IT DOWN gets no love, but I've always dug it. Perhaps it was doomed to be a "forgotten" album since it was released in between the enormously successful (albeit controversial) TURBO and the return-to-form classic PAINKILLER. OK, so maybe the uber-slick, late '80s production style does it no favors, and the ill-advised cover of "Johnny B. Goode" (!) may have been one of Priest's all time worst career decisions, but at least the band had (thankfully) ditched the synthesized sound of TURBO and were returning to their roots as black leather clad hell raisers. Aside from a few blips, much of RAM IT DOWN is solid stuff. In my book this is an album that simply fell through the cracks at the time of its release and is still waiting to be re-discovered.

Hold On! We've got one more!!

This is the end of Part 2 of our Judas Priest discography study. In Part 3, we'll examine the leftovers that haven't been mentioned in either chapter thus far. I hope you've had as much fun reading this one as I've had listening to all of these albums and compiling these lists!!

VOTE!!

Which is your favorite of the albums mentioned in this Hub?

  • "Defenders of the Faith" (1984)
  • "Point of Entry" (1981)
  • "Sin After Sin" (1977)
  • "Hellbent for Leather" aka "Killing Machine" (1979)
  • "Rocka Rolla" (1974)
  • "Ram It Down" (1988)
  • "Jugulator" (1997)
See results without voting

More by this Author


Comments 22 comments

mannyalice 5 years ago

Excellent job sir


A.A. Zavala profile image

A.A. Zavala 5 years ago from Texas

Awesome hub! oustounding music, cool album art. Awesome!


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 5 years ago from The Garden State Author

Thanks guys! Stay tuned for the third and final chapter, coming up soon!


elenox profile image

elenox 5 years ago from Missouri

I love the Defenders of the Faith album. I actually asked my grandma for it for Christmas and she got it for me. :) What I remember about those days also was on cassette tapes you still had sort of a Side 1 and Side 2 feel and I always felt that those sides offered quite different feels, but maybe that was just me. Good hub.


Steve Orion profile image

Steve Orion 5 years ago from Tampa, Florida

Defenders and Sin are both great albums, but I'm torn on Point of Entry. Great Hub!


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 5 years ago from The Garden State Author

Thanx Steve - "Point of Entry" is probably more of a sentimental fave since it was my intro to the Priest, but I do feel that it has some great tracks, unfortunately there's some filler as well.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon

do like Judas Priest. They were one of the heavier "commercial" metal bands of their time, though, my parents wouldn't let me listen to them :-) That means it's good


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 4 years ago from The Garden State Author

Thanx for stopping by, PDX... of course, if your parents hate it, then that means it's the good stuff! That's been the golden rule since the early days of rock n roll!


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon

true, except, my dad was a musician. he always hated priest though


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 4 years ago from The Garden State Author

Haha, my parents weren't crazy about Priest (or metal in general) when I was growing up either... though thankfully they never got all Tipper Gore/PMRC with me about it. The most they ever said to me was "THIS (glancing at an album cover) is what you spend your money on? Good Lord." Haha


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon

well, fortunately, my dad was pretty hip


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 4 years ago from The Garden State Author

Cool, man. I guess my parents were too, in their own way. Mom was a Beatles fan and Dad was into Elvis, and both of those artists had their own brushes with the anti-rock, "Music of the Devil" protestors, so when Tipper started making noise about "my" bands when I was growing up, they just went, "Ehh, here they go again. Ignore 'em kid, it'll blow over."


TheHeavyReview profile image

TheHeavyReview 4 years ago

I like "Sin After Sin", "Hell Bent For Leather", and "Defenders of the Faith" a lot. I'm also quite fond of "Rocka Rolla"; it's not very heavy but there's something really special about that album. I honestly haven't given "Point of Entry" a good listen, but I don't mind some of the songs from it.


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 4 years ago from The Garden State Author

Thanx THR... with the possible exceptions of DEMOLITION and TURBO I'm of the mind that all Priest is good Priest, but I'm glad to see someone else appreciates the inspired weirdness of ROCKA ROLLA. That album gets no love.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon

my mom is all about the Beatles, Besides praise and worship music, it's all she listens too. she gets really mad when I tell her the Beatles wrote most of their best material when they were high (with or without help from their friends)


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 4 years ago from The Garden State Author

Hahaha, my Mom's a Beatles fan too, but she prefers the early pop stuff and doesn't care for the "hippie" period. I tell her the same thing, "But their best albums were when they were stoned!"


OldWitchcraft profile image

OldWitchcraft 4 years ago from The Atmosphere

I'm going to check some of these out. In about 1995 or 1996 I had Dio/Priest cassette that had some of the best metal I ever heard on it. But, my ex-boyfriend (who turned out to be an extremely violent psycho) said they were Satanic and I wasn't allowed to listen to it. i have no idea what happened to that cassette. Ever heard of this combo on a cassette? I would love to hear it, again!

Great hubs - I'm a metal and horror fan, also.

Voting up and accolades!


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 4 years ago from The Garden State Author

Thanks, OldWitchcraft. Can't say I've ever seen/heard a Dio/Priest combo release.


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 2 years ago from The Garden State Author

Updated


hotwebideas profile image

hotwebideas 2 years ago from New York

Just came here after reading your Judas Priest Part 1 hub. It is nice to see a fellow priest fan with "almost" the same favorites as me. I think the only disagreement from Part 1 would be including Stained Class, but that album had to grow on me.

You said that you heard Heading Out To The Highway on Point of Entry as your first Judas Priest song and funny enough, that was also mine. I LOVED that song. When I first saw them in 1980, they opened with Solar Angels off of Point of Entry and I will never forget that when they came out, that first chord that get repeated on the studio track was QUADRUPLED to give the audience some mystery. In other words, if you heard Solar Angels, which is song 1 on side 2 of Point of Entry, take that first chord and play it back 4 times.

I would venture to say that Hell Bent For Leather should be in your part 1. I would switch Hell Bent and Stained Class, but like you said, this is your list.

One point about Defenders of the Faith, which you did not mention, is that one of my favorite songs and the first song that I heard off Defenders was Some Heads Are Gonna Roll. That was a great song, not one of their most metalish tracks, but definitely one of the best songs on the album.

Going to the Ripper Owen albums, I actually hated Jugulator except for maybe the song Bullet Train, but loved Demolition. I can count on one hand how many times I played Jugulator.

Another great metal hub! Going to read Part 3.


FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 2 years ago from The Garden State Author

Hey hotwebideas - glad you're digging my Priest hubs! Very cool that you and I share the same memory of our "first" Priest song. I'm also dyin' of jealousy that you got to see them on that Point of Entry tour!! Thanks for stopping by.


hotwebideas profile image

hotwebideas 2 years ago from New York

Yes, that was amazing on Point Of Entry.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working