Judas Priest Discography Discussion (part 2 starting page 20)

Discussion in 'Music Discussion' started by Mosh, Dec 27, 2013.

  1. Mosh

    Mosh The years just pass like trains Staff Member

    One album per week or longer if need be, 16 studio albums (maybe 17 if one gets released next year), 8 live albums/videos.

    Rocka Rolla (1974)

    2000 Reissue artwork

    Rob Halford - Lead vocals and harmonica
    K.K. Downing - Guitar
    Glenn Tipton - Guitar and Synth
    Ian Hill - Bass
    John Hinch - Drums


    In 1974, anything was possible with music. Progressive Rock was reaching its peak, with Genesis, Yes, and King Crimson all releasing seminal albums and a young Rush emerging with Working Man. Stadium Rock giants such as Queen and Kiss were beginning to hit their stride and Heavy Metal continued to grow with Deep Purple beginning a new era with David Coverdale and Black Sabbath still going strong with Ozzy Osbourne. It was the perfect time for a new sound and it came in the form of Judas Priest.

    Judas Priest had the Metal edge of Sabbath, the Blues tinge of Led Zeppelin, and even the Progressive qualities of bands like King Crimson. While not the band that they would become just a few years later, Judas Priest was something different and their power could already be heard on the first album.

    The band began life in 1970 with childhood friends K.K. Downing and Ian Hill in Birmingham. The band named themselves after a disbanded group led by original vocalist, Al Atkins. This lineup wrote music and played several gigs (with several different drummers) in Birmingham area before the departure of Atkins in 1973. It was then that the band found Rob Halford and drummer John Hinch from another band called Hiroshima. The Rocka Rolla lineup was almost complete and as the band got ready to hit the studio, Glenn Tipton was hired as a second lead guitarist.

    Judas Priest with original singer, Al Atkins

    From the very start, Judas Priest had a dark and heavy sound with an almost industrial edge inspired by the steel mills that surrounded the band members during their childhoods. While these features would become more prominent later on, you can hear this sound developing on the very first album. Also found on the first album are the signature twin guitar attacks and soaring vocals of Rob Halford. The album was produced by Rodger Bain, who also produced the early Sabbath albums.

    Part of the power of the debut can be credited to the band performing it "live". In other words, what you hear is the entire band playing through the song, rather than the more traditional method of recording bits and pieces and mixing it together.

    Although Halford had a large influence on the songwriting, many of the songs were written while Atkins was in the band and he receives credit on three songs, Winter, Never Satisfied, and Caviar and Meths. Despite only being in the band for a short time at that point, Tipton also receives credit on Rocka Rolla and Run of the Mill.

    Unfortunately, Rocka Rolla was not created exactly the way the band intended. The label had large control over the album and songs intended for the album, such as Victim of Changes and Tyrant were left off. There were also production errors that compromised the sound. The artwork remains a bit of a mystery and has since been replaced by new (and more fitting) artwork by Melvyn Grant, who also designed many of Iron Maiden's albums, including Fear of the Dark and The Final Frontier.
    The new Rocka Rolla artwork was adapted from sci-fi novel, The Steel Tsar

    While most people think leather jackets and studs when it comes to Judas Priest's image, they didn't always look this way. In the beginning, Priest was very much a product of the 70's. Flamboyant outfits, long hair, and a general "hippie" vibe characterized Judas Priest during this time period.


    Like many debut albums, Rocka Rolla has largely been forgotten by both fans and the band. Despite having many characteristics of Priest's original sound, it is still quite different and is far from showing their full potential. The band quickly abandoned these songs in the live setting until 2011 when Never Satisfied was brought back for the Epitaph tour.

    Last edited: Dec 28, 2013
  2. Saapanael

    Saapanael "Get a life, punk!"

    Great post, Mosh.

    The man is Glenn, not Glen :p. As you mentioned, they did look a lot different. Rob with long hair, Tipton with wide jeans, KK with a hat etc. Very nice to see their early years and think how much bigger and more Metal they grew. The guitars sounded so weak back then :D.

    Just in case mentioning that Dreamer Deceiver is from Sad Wings of Destiny but you probably know it and shared it for the video footage. Rocka Rolla is a cool song, especially the chorus which is really awesome in my opinion. It's interesting that they recorded the songs in one whole, good that you pointed it out.

    Also, damn label, leaving out the best songs: Tyrant and Victim of Changes.

    These weeks are going to be a great discussion!
    Mosh likes this.
  3. Mosh

    Mosh The years just pass like trains Staff Member

    Fixed :p

    And yea, Dreamer Deceiver is posted because I wanted to include the whole Old Grey Whistle Test performance. The first two Judas Priest albums are much like the first two Iron Maiden albums in that a lot of the material was written at the same time (Dreamer Deceiver is another song with an Atkins credit). This surprises me though because Sad Wings is already a large step up from the debut IMO. I wonder if those songs went through any changes after being left off Rocka Rolla.

    For more era mix-ups, remastered versions of Rocka Rolla include an early recording of Diamonds and Rust that actually came from the Sad Wings sessions.
  4. mckindog

    mckindog Living for Sanctuary from the law Staff Member

    I love the original bottle cap cover.
  5. mckindog

    mckindog Living for Sanctuary from the law Staff Member

    Halford is the face of Priest and KK is the spirit, but Tipton is the brains of the operation.
    The fact he may as well have been a hired gun for this one shows, IMO.

    Rocka Rolla is gloomy, hippy stoner rock with some Black Sabbath edge and not a lot of focus.
    Still, you can see pieces — it's got mood, and some moments that transcend the dead production; Halford is already showing he's a unique talent with a shot at being something special.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2013
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  6. Sara

    Sara Not even Wensleydale?

    The production on "Rocka Rolla" is really dry, and lacking character. I haven't listened to the whole album in a long time, which probably by itself hints at the fact that it's not one of my fave Priest albums. I've always loved the title track though, and wished that the band would play it live in more recent years. Some other moments, as mckingdog says, rise above the dead production, although in all honesty, there's not much on the debut to indicate what was to come on their 2nd album. The first two albums are poles apart in terms of quality, and it's amazing to think the huge leap the band made from the first to the second album. The first album is fun, and quirky, but really nothing earthshattering. The 2nd album is a behemoth, arguably Priest's best album, and one of metal's most classic and defining albums. There's definitely a far greater difference between the first two Priest albums, and the first two Maiden albums, which were very similar in terms of quality and production.

    I love those Old Grey Whistle Test videos, I've watched them many times over the years. :) It's so weird to see how much they evolved style wise, although of course, at that time, metal didn't have a "look", and that was something that Priest (and more specifically, Rob Halford) would pioneer a few years later. But there's an innocence, and a flair to that early Priest, that was mostly abscent after the 70's. Oh, and the OGWT version of Rocka Rolla sounds much better than the studio version! I love the song, but the production on the debut doesn't do it justice...
    Mosh likes this.
  7. Mosh

    Mosh The years just pass like trains Staff Member

    Agreed with Dog and Sara on pretty much everything. Glad to see some love for the title track, it's my favorite song too. That twin guitar melody is irresistible and really stays in your head.

    And yea the Old Grey Whistle Test is awesome. I remember almost falling out of my chair when I saw it for the first time. I had NO idea that there was a Judas Priest before Hell Bent For Leather. Talk about a shock!
    Sara likes this.
  8. Sara

    Sara Not even Wensleydale?

    I dare say that the title track is one of my fave Priest songs, it's a shame it's never been played live since the mid-70's. :(

    The first time I saw that video of Priest on TOGWT, I thought it was hilarious, I couldn't believe how different they looked! And Rob reminded me a bit of Janis Joplin! lol xD
    Mosh likes this.
  9. mckindog

    mckindog Living for Sanctuary from the law Staff Member

    Two things stand out to me about the title track, because they would become constants for the band.
    The first is the fact it is a riff-based song with a signature guitar introduction and a fresh, catchy change-up when the instrumental midsection hits.
    The second is the character and inflection Halford puts into the vocal and just how memorable the chorus is.

    They would learn to deliver these elements with much more power and authority as they matured, but no matter what kind of experimentation they were doing musically, both the guitars and the vocals could always deliver engaging hooks.
    Mosh likes this.
  10. Mosh

    Mosh The years just pass like trains Staff Member

    Yea, I was really hoping they'd bring it back for the Epitaph tour when they announced they'd be doing a song from every album. Never Satisfied is one of the weakest on that album and it was the only dull moment during an otherwise awesome concert.
    Sara likes this.
  11. Sara

    Sara Not even Wensleydale?

    Yep, me likewise. When they said they were doing a song off each album (which wasn't strictly true, as they didn't play anything from the Ripper albums), I was really hoping they'd play "Rocka Rolla" from the debut. "Never Satisifed" is one of the weakest on the album, and I'd have much preffered hearing songs like the "Winter Suite", or "Run Of The Mill" over that song.
    Mosh likes this.
  12. Forostar

    Forostar Ancient Mariner

    I find the title track enjoyable, because its chorus has a great hook. At the same time, I find it striking to hear the huge difference with the rest of the album. I'm sure that the rest of the album must have been the direction the band really wanted to take. If people bought that record after only hearing the title track, they must have come in for a surprise because it's not really representative for what Priest stood for.

    Even though I like this song, I am glad that most of the rest does not come close in style. Because it has much more layers in it. Deeper, more mesmerizing music and lyrics.

    The band was not satisfied by the production (nor by the cover which they found inappropriate). The album sounded good (louder!) when they played it in the studio, but after it was cut on record it sounded bad. I am not having such a problem with this aspect, although I can imagine the band's disappointment.

    I can still hear all instruments clearly. Perhaps it does not sound as powerful, but so what? There's other stuff to enjoy if you're open for it (and like it of course). As Flash noted in round 1 of the Judas Priest Album Survivor, the bass guitar is coming out great and it surely was used when writing songs as well.

    One for the Road has this endless riff, and although it sets the tone well, it is one of the lesser tracks.

    I love the Winter trilogy since the first time I heard it. Great to listen to these drums on Winter, the first of the suite. John Hinch didn't do the fast work his successors showed (not that these songs asked for it!) but the guy could keep a groove! Then it's time for Deep Freeze, 81 seconds of noise? Nah, I like this madness. It isn't that long either. Downing makes some really cool sounds, at times sounding like a motor of a race car. Excellent end as well. Winter Retreat is its opposite with very calm guitars suiting this phase of the season.

    In the survivor I called Cheater the weakest song, but Halford still saves it by his dynamic vocal lines.

    Never Satisfied. Check that solo break and try to count the beat. Very unusual. I like the last part the best, with its doomy chord progression.

    Run of the Mill has one of the best build-ups towards a climax that they ever did. That solo by KK tells a whole story. Feel the swelling organ underneath. And that pulsating, hypnotizing bass guitar. Halford sounds so passionate. When I heard this coming from my vinyl for the first time, I was spellbound by its emotion. It still ranks among my favourites. And worthy enough to share here, so people take a listen if they've never heard it yet, or wish an easy gate to rediscovery:

    Dying to Meet You. This song included a segment, that later was called Hero, Hero. This title was not listed on the album, and I never saw it as an apart track; Rather think it as the second half of Dying to Meet You with an oddly long break before it starts. Again a doomy, dark song with Halford showing his capability on the lower registers.

    The album ends with Caviar and Meths. This one was originally way longer, some of the earliest material the band had written. Cut short to two minutes. What remains is still a joy to the ear.

    Even if Rocka Rolla did not turn out as a heavy album, it possesses atmosphere, neat little riffs, intriguing lyrics and challenging singing. There's a certain darkness and originality in Priest's seventies that I really appreciate.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2013
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  13. The Flash

    The Flash Dennis Wilcock did 9/11

    I'm planning on giving the album a spin later in the day. Might talk about it afterwards.
  14. Mosh

    Mosh The years just pass like trains Staff Member

    Good call on that, never noticed it the first time but there's definitely an odd time happening there. I hear it as shifting between 4/4 and 11/8.
  15. Cosmiceddie

    Cosmiceddie Back From The Edge

    'Rocka Rolla' is my second favourite Priest album of the seventies. With a state-of-the-art production, this album would kill.

    Without a shadow of doubt, 'Run Of The Mill' is the highlight thereof. Halford did a brilliant job there, hats-off.
  16. mckindog

    mckindog Living for Sanctuary from the law Staff Member

    I was surprised by the love Run of the Mill gets here.
    I had always thought it underrated, then I learned a few have it among their absolute favourites.

    Not a typical Priest track at all - no big riffs or vocal hooks, and the bass plays a key role.
    I find it a tad too drawn out, but the performances are good and the atmosphere is fantastic.

    I wonder how different it would sounded had it been recorded today - more dynamics and some symphonic touches I would imagine. Not sure if that would have improved it or ruined it.
  17. Mosh

    Mosh The years just pass like trains Staff Member

    Sad Wings of Destiny (1976)

    Rob Halford - Lead Vocals
    K.K. Downing - Guitar
    Glenn Tipton - Guitar, Piano, Synthesizer
    Ian Hill - Bass
    Alan Moore - Drums

    Despite the fast paced nature of bands in the 70's, sometimes releasing multiple albums in a year, Judas Priest's second album didn't come until two years after Rocka Rolla. In that time, the band naturally evolved and started to sound more like the Judas Priest fans are used to. Older songs got a chance to be touched up and the band even started to change their look.

    By this time, the band had once again changed drummers. This time, for the first and only time, they had an older drummer return to the band. Alan Moore was from the Al Atkins era, but left in 1974 to join a country band called Sundance. Shortly after the release of Sad Wings of Destiny, Moore left the band once again.

    Sad Wings of Destiny is a heavier album than it's predecessor, showing more aggression and tighter songwriting. Older songs were altered, such as Victim of Changes, which was a mixture of two older songs: Red Light Lady and Whiskey Woman. This would be the final album to credit Al Atkins, who co-wrote Victim of Changes and Dreamer Deceiver.

    Like Rocka Rolla, this album features Glenn Tipton's keyboard playing in some places, but this time even more prominently. You can hear his piano playing on Prelude and Epitaph, which are also the only two songs on this album to not be performed live. At this point, he was fully integrated into the band with songwriting credits on every song, including 3 that he penned by himself: The two aforementioned songs and The Ripper.

    Also similar to the debut, the band recorded a song that was left off the album: a cover of Diamonds and Rust. It would be rerecorded for their next album, while the original recording has since been included on re-releases of Rocka Rolla.

    This album also features a unique error; the track listing and actual song order on the original album was different. The track listing mixed up the two sides, listing Prelude as the first song, however as we all know, the album starts with Victim of Change's side. This error remained a mystery until 2011 when all the Judas Priest albums were officially remastered, with the new version starting with side A, thus opening the album with Prelude.

    Sad Wings of Destiny would become Judas Priest's final album with the small label, Gull. After this, the band was signed Columbia Records. While mostly a positive thing, this unfortunately caused the band to lose the rights to all their recordings up to this point. Several demos remain unreleased and the band's first two albums were re-released several times without the band's consent. It wasn't until 2011's complete album box set that we saw an official CD release of these albums.

    While not a commercial success, Sad Wings of Destiny saw the band's popularity grow and showed the band already maturing. This album remains a fan favorite, with some even calling it their best work. The band continued to perform material from it throughout their career, with Victim of Changes being their most performed song ever. Rocka Rolla might have been a rough start for the band, but it didn't take long for them to start gaining a momentum that would continue throughout the 70's and right into the 80's.

    Mother Son, an unreleased song, live at Reading 1975. Check out Glenn Tipton's falsetto!

    Al Atkins performing Victim of Changes as originally written

    Dreamer Deceiver, live 1975

    Victim of Changes (1998)

    In 1998, former singer Al Atkins released an album mostly made up of Judas Priest covers with another former member, Dave Holland. It's interesting hearing these songs with more modern sound and you get an idea of what the voice of Judas Priest used to sound like. It's at least worth a listen for two Priest songs that were never released: Holy Is the Man and Mind Conception. While the production values are higher and the band is obviously different, it's not too hard to imagine these songs with that early/mid 70's Priest sound and Rob Halford singing.

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  18. Forostar

    Forostar Ancient Mariner

    Nice that you put a prominent Atkins-role in here, Mosh. Well deserved and it makes the story more complete. :ok:

    Mind Conception is really good!
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2014
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  19. Mosh

    Mosh The years just pass like trains Staff Member

    Totally, even though Atkins was never on any JP albums, he did help form the band and co-wrote two classic tracks.

    Part of my goal with this thread will be to shed a bit of light on what some of the former (and to a lesser extent, current) members have done outside of Priest, as well as give some general background information. There's one particular album featuring Simon Phillips that came out last year that I really love, but I'll save the Phillips praise for next week. ;)
  20. Forostar

    Forostar Ancient Mariner

    Mother Sun! You hear an entire separate vocal line, probably done by Tipton.
    Quite an intriguing song, too bad there was no room for it on the LP. The lyrics are very doomy and deep.

    I got acquainted with the studio versions of six songs from Sad Wings via this "best of" album:


    I have the double LP and have played it quite often when I started to discover Priest. Besides its awesome cover, you can find a nice mix of songs from the first two Priest albums. It does not have Ripper, Island of Domination and Epitaph but it features the first recording of Diamonds and Rust:

    The drums are not as rich as on the more known version that appeared on Sin After Sin, but it's still nice. With its own details, like that little harmonic touch @ 1.44-1:51.

    I really ought to recommend this set. Perhaps I have learned to appreciate the debut album so much because I knew Hero, Hero first, so before I had heard these two separate albums.

    I like all songs from Sad Wings of Destiny. My favourites are Ripper, Dreamer Deceiver, Deceiver, & Island of Domination. Of course, I also like the legendary Victim of Changes and Tyrant, but both I heard first via Unleashed in the East. On that live album we have more explosive and faster versions. Still, both have their own qualities from the studio. E.g. I like the sound of the hacking rhythm guitars in Victim and the backing vocals in Tyrant:

    Mourn for us oppressed in fear
    Chained and shackled we are bound
    Freedom choked in dread we live
    Since tyrant was enthroned

    Epitaph was a growing-song to me. Later I started liking it because of its mood and the vocals. I probably find Genocide the least because the guitars sound so Smoke on the Waterish. And I find the song quite tame.

    Ah, something else. We all know titles such as Exciter, Jawbreaker, Painkiller, Night Crawler Jugulator and what have we not?
    Lately I paid some attention to lyrics and take a look at Island of Domination:

    Skyrider supersonic flyer
    Nightdriver demon of desire
    Spinesnapper tried your best to break us
    Throatchoker thought that you could take us

    So Priest started quite early with that. :)
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2014
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