HistoryWest Bromwich’s Judas Priest was one of the first successful metal bands and certainly one of the few that has survived and prospered over the years. The band was initially put together in 1971 when two schoolmates, namely K.K. Downing and Ian Hill, joined talents. In the meanwhile Judas Priest was, in fact, in existence since 1969 featuring singer Alan Atkins and Bruno Stappenhill. This latter two had initially signed to Immediate Records, but were disappointed when the company had folded. Downing had previously auditioned and failed to be accepted into the band. So, in late 1970 it was Al Atkins who would join the band of K.K. (a handle given to ken by manager Dave “Corky” Corke), Ian Hill and drummer John Ellis. The monicker Judas Priest was inspired by a Bob Dylan song, The Ballad Of Frankie Lee And Judas Priest. The band’s very first gig was on March 16, 1971, at St. John's Hall in Essington, England. The band would break up, but reform and soon recruit local urchin, Rob Halford who was in Hiroshima. The band had opened for Heavy Metal Kids, Thin Lizzy, Hawkwind and Budgie. They and Budgie would exchange places to stay the night when the respective bands were on tour and in each other’s vicinity. A contract was also signed with IMA Management co-owned by Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi later on.
A contract with Gull/Decca yielded two albums. Glenn Tipton had become the second guitarist right after the band had obtained a deal. The debut’s artwork and title, Rocka Rolla, were fashioned after Coca Cola! This was drummer John Hinch’s sole contribution to Judas Priest. Apparently, Hinch had quit after not getting along with Tipton. The band’s hippie and blues-inspired music soon became progressively heavier and soon yielded what most fans today recognize as classic hard rock and heavy metal. In particular, listeners would cite the band’s unique dual-guitar approach as enterprising. The band played at reading in 1975 and opened for UFO. Alan Moore would join for the next album, 1976’s Sad Wings Of Destiny, but he had been with the act briefly several years earlier. Arriving onto a major label with Sin After Sin the band replaced Alan Moore (who had already re-joined once) with session man Simon Phillips and asked Deep Purple’s Roger Glover to produce. The album’s supporting tour was notable for a fight between fans and gorillas at a London show. A US tour had Judas Priest acting as openers for Foreigner and Reo Speed Wagon. The band also opened for Led Zeppelin at San Francisco’s Day On The Green Festival. Following Stained Class (initially conceived as ‘Stained Glass,’ the medieval outfits were replaced by a new image of chains and leather. This image was later understood to be inspired by Halford’s gay lifestyle. However, KK Downing would relate that this was his idea and he was the first in the band clad in leather and studs. The group toured with the fleeting English Assassin (it is a hazardous vocation, you know) and Mahogany Rush. Killing Machine’s name was toned down for the conservative American market and was called Hell Bent For Leather. This edition also added the cover of hippie icons Fleetwood Mac’s, Green Manalishi. The album yielded the band’s first British single Top 10, Take On The World. HH Downing would note unhappily how Glenn Tipton would be asserting control from around this area. The band’s Unleashed In The East (in Japan and originally in the UK entitled Priest In The East) live album from 1979 is generally regarded as the seminal live recording of the genre, despite many misgivings regarding its dubs as a studio recording on an English sound stage. The band would later insist that only some of the vocals were redone as during the original two Japanese shows the singer was afflicted with laryngitis. The album, with its sped-up versions of old favourites, has garnered so much acclaim that the band had a hard time agreeing on the release of its disappointing follow-up, Priest Live. Either way Les Binks was gone by the time the album was released and the promotional shots were staged so Halford obscured the drum kit. The band toured with AC/DC, a band Downing respected for being good to their openers and generally ruling the stage (his other favourite was early Status Quo). By the early ‘80s, the band was even hitting the single and album’s charts. In particular, the British Steel album had sold very well and yielded two singles, Breaking The Law and Living After Midnight. It was during this period that Priest takes a young Iron Maiden on the road with it. The group did not do itself any favours with the weaker Point Of Entry of 1981. However, the heavier Screaming For Vengeance and Defenders Of The Faith are generally regarded as the band’s very best. The latter featured Metallian on its cover and as a theme. Japanese animation Queen Millennia (1982) featured La Metallians. Two of the band’s fans committed suicide while listening to Stained Class in late 1985 prompting a suit alleging suicide-inducing and back masked music and lyrics by parents sensing an income opportunity. The parents lost the case in 1990. 1986’s Turbo was an experiment with electronic drums and synthesized guitars that did well commercially nonetheless. A Porsche Turbo or two the band members had purchased supposedly inspired the album’s name. Strangely, Legs Diamond drummer Jonathan Valen was hired to play electronic drums back stage, while Dave Holland practiced the more conventional art before the public. The band acquiesced to commercialism and the American market next before rebounding with Painkiller, another definitive work – grammar faux pas or not. Don Airey of Deep Purple revealed in 2020 that he had played keyboards and some bass on the album. Dave Holland criticized Glenn Tipton’s playing upon quitting.
Despite the success, Rob Halford would unilaterally depart in 1992 citing a need to engage in some solo work. At first, the understanding was that the man would continue in Judas Priest as well, but contractual necessity and a confused way of thinking nixed the notion. Halford would spend several years slagging metal as dead, emulate Pantera and engage in industrial techno pop. He would also appear on MTV coming out of the closet, although, to quote the other Priest musicians, the revelation was the worst kept secret in rock and roll. Interestingly, KK had thought about quitting as well and had gone as far as writing a resignation letter in 1991. Handing it in was moot given Halford’s action. Priest would remain in limbo until 1997 when a new Judas Priest was born, complete with a new logo, a new American vocalist called Tim "Ripper" Owens, a new record company and a supposedly modern sound. American drummer Scott Travis who had also joined Halford for a while would be part of the line-up again. Owens’ band had gone through Virginia where Travis lived inviting the drummer on stage for a couple of songs. Back in the UK with the remaining members of Judas Priest Travis showed the band a VHS tape of Owens, which impressed the musicians. Glenn Tipton of Judas Priest clarified the band situation thus in early 2000: the band had signed to Atlantic for North America, JVC in Japan and would continue to work with SPV in Europe. Despite some time off due to the illness of Tipton's dad, the band was actually finishing a new album which he described as Jugulator but more melodic and classic Priest. He also noted the band's full intention to tour in 2000. While Jugulator was mildly welcomed, Demolition was less so and the band, management and fans fuelled the flames of a reunion. Simultaneously, Halford was often signalling a desire to return given his relative lack of success. Judas Priest was headlining 2000’s Bang Your Head festival. The band's follow- up European tour had Savatage in tow.
Halford re-joined in July of 2003. Tim Owens would claim anything but surprise, although he would acknowledge that he was fired via an e-mail! The rest of the band would later often say Owens was a fan himself and supportive of Halford’s return. Several compilations and tours accompanied the reunion album, Angel Of Retribution. Earlier, drummer Holland had caused controversy by being accused of child molestation. His trial would reveal the man had been bi-sexual and been spending the last several years offering drum lessons. Judas Priest would headline Ozzfest, with Halford even briefly replacing Ozzy as frontman for Black Sabbath, before the end of 2005 would bring Angel Of Retribution. Judas Priest, Ian Gillan, Boned, Scorpions and others appeared at the Royal Albert Hall in central London to honour the deceased BBC radio DJ, Tommy Vance. The band was also working on a new album. It turned out to be a concept album about and named Nostradamus. The album was issued on June 17th through Epic. The double-disc was the band’s first concept album. It was recorded from 2006 to 2007 at Old Smithy Studio in the U.K. The band announced a tour with Heaven And Hell, Motörhead and Testament. It was followed by a European trek called Priest Feast featuring Judas Priest, Megadeth and Testament in February of 2009. The band lost its nomination and campaign for a Grammy to Metallica in the same month. Judas Priest and Whitesnake were touring US and Canada together in the summer of 2009. To celebrate the album’s thirtieth anniversary the band would perform the entire British Steel album. Metal God Entertainment and Rob Halford set up a new clothing company in 2009 called Metal God Apparel “for today’s rock and roll lifestyles.” The band released a new live album in 2009 featuring eleven tracks Entitled A Touch Of Evil – Live, the songs were recorded at shows between 2005 and 2008. After craving one for years Judas Priest won a Grammy in the Best Metal Performance category for Dissident Aggressor at the 52nd annual Grammy Awards, on Sunday, January 31 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Judas Priest was commemorating the thirtieth anniversary of the release of British Steel. British Steel: Legacy Edition CD + DVD package included the CD featuring 2001 remaster of original 9-song album with two bonus tracks, a DVD featuring live 16-song set from the 2009 tour (the album sequence plus seven more tunes) plus a new ‘Making of British Steel’ interview. After nearly 40 years of heavy metal, Judas Priest announced 2011 would bring its final world tour. However, Judas Priest's Epitaph tour would be hitting all the major cities throughout the world. Rob Halford vowed to continue his solo career. The band then contradicted itself by announcing potential subsequent tours and newer material being written. Following the announcement of the retirement that wasn’t, in April of 2011 Judas Priest announced that guitarist K.K. Downing had retired from the band and would therefore not be joining them on the forthcoming Epitaph tour. The band had "unanimously agreed" that they should go ahead with the tour" and "not let the fans down all around the world." Judas Priest recruited 31-year old British guitar player Richie Faulkner. The Epitaph tour would include songs from every Priest studio album and also tracks they had never before performed on stage. A new album was due to be released in 2012 however. K.K. Downing had originally quit the band in the autumn timeframe. It was now revealed that he had left due to conflict within the band and with the management. Ripper, in the meantime, was in yet another band, Dio Disciples. Judas Priest kicked off its Epitaph world tour on Tuesday, June 7th, 2011 in Tilburg, The Netherlands. The concert was the band's first concert with its latest addition, guitarist Richie Faulkner (Dirty Deeds and Lauren Harris) who had replaced K.K. Downing. The band was touring North America in the autumn (mostly in November) with openers Thin Lizzy and Black Label Society. Single Cuts was a 2011 box set containing Judas Priest's complete U.K. CBS singles. While it was initially due in August it was later due out on October 10th. The priests released a new compilation album, The Chosen Few, on October 11th, 2011 through Legacy. The songs were selected by several musicians including Ozzy Osbourne, Slash, James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich. British band Hostile, which featured bassist Alex Hill, son of Judas Priest's Ian Hill, release its debut demo, Eve Of Destruction, on October 31st. The CD was produced by K.K. Downing. Priest was writing an all-metal new album. The band’s The Hellion was used in a Honda commercial for its 2011 Odyssey minivan. Judas Priest singer Rob Halford's manager John Baxter filed a lawsuit against Halford and other members of the band and its management team, alleging fraud and breach of contract. Baxter had been managing the singer since 1982. He alleged that Halford and the band were removing him just in time for Halford’s solo career take-off as Priest winds down. Judas Priest was play in Singapore in February of 2012 with support coming from Lamb Of God. Former guitarist K.K. Downing had begun promoting rock concerts using the name The Future Of Heavy Metal. The first show would be at The Slade Rooms in Wolverhampton, England on May 16th, 2013followed by a show at The Asylum in Birmingham the following day. The shows would be with Hostile and Moray Firth. Hostile featured bassist Alex Hill, son of Judas Priest's Ian Hill. Rob Halford was in England in the spring of 2013 to operate or treat his severe back pains. He was earlier wheelchair bound. Rob Halford was to be featured in an episode of The Simpsons in 2014. Judas Priest picked Redeemer Of Souls as the title for its 2014 album. The album would be released on July 15th through Epic/Columbia. It was the first record without guitarist KK Downing and the first including Richie Faulkner, formerly of Lauren Harris who is the daughter of Iron Maiden’s Steve Harris. Judas Priest singer Rob Halford told an interviewer that he had an umbilical hernia with the belly button pushing forward due to weak surrounding muscle. He would undergo surgery to repair the area. The Redeemer Of Souls album was still due out on July 15th through Epic. Elsewhere, Judas Priest's co-founding member and guitarist Ernie Chataway died at the age of 62. He was reportedly struck with lung cancer. Three years after the standard farewell marketing ploy, Judas Priest announced a tour of the U.S.A. that autumn with Steel Panther as support. Four years after announcing it is good-bye, Judas Priest's 17th studio album, Redeemer Of Souls, sold around 32,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release to land at position number 6 on The Billboard 200 chart. Former guitarist Downing was about to release a line of perfumes called Metal For Men and Metal Pour Femme alongside UK digital radio station Planet Rock. Judas Priest and Mastodon would play Slipknot's Knotfest on October 24-25th 2015 at San Manuel Amphitheater in Devore, California. Judas Priest announced a 2015 North American tour beginning in October and ending in November in Halifax, Canada. Battle Cry was a CD and DVD, which was recorded at Wacken. Rob Halford joined the Japanese bubble gum metal band Babymetal on stage at the 2016 Alternative Press Music Awards, which would take place on July 18th at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio, USA. Judas Priest was entering the studio at the end of 2016 recording a new album due end of 2017. The band’s long-time producer Tom Allom and Andy Sneap (Sabbat) were producing. The band, which had publicly promised to never tour again, would tour in 2018. Judas Priest’s next album was called Firepower. It was out in February. Saxon and Black Star Riders would open for the band in North America in March. Bon Jovi garnered more votes than Dire Straits, The Cars, Moody Blues and Judas Priest to win the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Fan Vote in 2017. That gave the band an extra vote to be inducted into the Hall Of Fame. Bon Jovi would beat Judas Priest and others for induction. Dave Holland died in Spain where he lived in January, 2018. He spent several years in jail for attempted rape of a male drum student. Seventy-year-old Glenn Tipton announced on 12.02.2018 that he had had Parkinson's disease for a decade and would not join the band on tour. He added that he remained a member of the band and might appear on stage in the future. Producer Andy Sneap would jump in. Sneap was also in The Scintilla Project with Biff of Saxon with whom Priest was to tour. In the meantime, Downing issued a statement wondering why he was not asked to re-join leaving the door open to the possibility. Singer Halford slammed Downing’s intentions and the implied statement that Tipton did not play in the studio either. Tipton’s replacement also jumped in slamming Downing. Firepower landed at position number 5 on the U.K. albums charts. The band’s 1980 album British Steel had landed at number four. Glenn Tipton joined the band on stage in New Jersey, USA for the group’s encore of three songs on March 20th. He would continue sporadic appearances. Judas Priest and Deep Purple toured North America in the summer of 2018. Former drummer Les Binks had a new band called Les Binks' Priesthood. The band played many of the old Judas Priest songs. The band initiated the Glenn Tipton Parkinson's Foundation following the band’s namesake former guitarist suffering from the disease. Round Hill Music purchased ownership in former band guitarist K.K. Downing’s catalogue and its royalties in mid-2018. The man’s dream of running a golf course had fallen to ruins when the venture went bankrupt in 2016. Judas Priest, Kreator, Helloween, Massacre, Arch Enemy, Revocation and others were confirmed for the Colombian edition of Knotfest on October 26th 2018. The festival would take place in Bogota the capital of Colombia. Ozzy Osbourne would go on a European tour called No More Tours 2 in early 2019. Judas Priest, which was another long retired band supposedly, would open. Uriah Heep and Judas Priest were to tour Canada and USA in May 2019. Judas Priest’s debut shows in South Africa slated for March 2019 were cancelled. The band claimed it was due to circumstances beyond its control. Epicenter Festival in North Carolina was cancelled in May 2019 affecting the performance of Judas Priest and other bands. Severe weather in that part of the USA had become common and was the cause of the cancellation. Andy Sneap told an interviewer he is unsure whether he would remain the band’s guitarist. Years after promising to call it quits the group announced that it would commemorate its 50th anniversary through touring in 2020. K.K. Downing would play with Ross The Boss at the 2019 Bloodstock Open Air festival in England on August 11th. Former members K.K. Downing (guitar), Tim "Ripper" Owens (vocals) and Les Binks (drums) would team up as MegaPriest fest to perform a set of Judas tracks alongside Megadeth bassist David Ellefson in Wolverhampton, United Kingdom on November 3rd 2019. The band itself would perform at the Wacken Open Air festival in July as well. On the occasion of its fiftieth anniversary the guys were to headline Bloodstock Open Air festival August 6-9, 2020. Explorer1 Music Group (E1) signed K.K. Downing. Andy Gould was to be the manager for Downing. Judas Priest announced it would commemorate its 50th anniversary with a world tour in 2020. The 50 Heavy Metal Years Tour was to feature Sabaton as opener. Another Former members K.K. Downing, Tim "Ripper" Owens and Les Binks (drums) joined forces in a new act called KK's Priest. The group also featured guitarist A.J. Mills (Hostile) and bassist Tony Newton (Voodoo Six). The band was working on an album for Explorer1 Music Group. Social justice protestors stole New York City cops’ police radio and played Breaking The Law over the frequency in the spring of 2020. Rob Halford was working on a solo blues album. The album featured his brother Nigel and his nephew Alex who is the son of bassist Ian Hill. Judas Priest would headline the inaugural Warlando Metal Fest, which would take place at the Orlando, Florida, USA Amphitheater on Saturday, September 11th, 2021. The band issued a book documenting the band's 50 years of history. Judas Priest - 50 Heavy Metal Years was issued by Rufus Publishing. It almost coincided with Rob Halford’s autobiography, which was entitled Confess. Judas Priest and Ozzy Osbourne announced a 2022 tour in 2020. Glenn Tipton joined his former colleague K.K. Downing and sold half the shares in his portion of the band’s music in 2021. The deal was brokered by the management. Former drummer John Hinch, who played on 1974's Rocka Rolla, died in April 2021. He was 73 years old. Judas Priest, Gojira, Anthrax and Killswitch Engage were among the bands playing Louder Than Life 2021 Festival in Louisville, Kentucky, USA in September. Judas Priest would release a 42-CD box set, which included every album to date and included 13 unreleased discs through Sony in October 2021. The band had previously discussed the difficulty in gaining access to its Gull Records’ material, namely 1974’s Rocka Rolla and 1976’s Sad Wings Of Destiny. Sabaton would be the opener on Judas Priest's 2021 50 Years Of Metal U.S. tour that began in Pennsylvania, USA on September 8th. Earlier, Judas Priest was rejoined by guitarist Glenn Tipton during the band's encore at the Bloodstock Open Air festival on August 15th.
Judas Priest postponed the rest of its Canada/USA 50 Heavy Metal Years tour as guitarist Richie Faulkner had to undergo emergency heart surgery on Monday September 27th. He suffered a heart attack following the band’s concert at the Louder Than Life festival in Louisville, Kentucky, USA. He was released several days later. Faulkner noted that he had no history of a heart condition. Rob Halford revealed that he fought prostate cancer in 2020. He had surgery and treatment in the spring only to be given the all-clear.
JUDAS PRIEST - SCREAMING FOR VENGEANCE - CBS
One can easily be desensitized to how good the songs on Judas Priest’s best-selling album are. Perhaps the opening intro The Hellion and track Electric Eye are such instant classics that they have the power to diminish the comparative value of the rest of the album.
I still like Screaming For Vengeance's 1984 follow-up Defenders Of Faith more, but this 1982 LP is nothing short of a heavy metal tour-de-force.
Let's see, the aforementioned Hellion is one of the best intros ever placed in the path of music fans' ears. The lead guitars seesaw to menacing effect. Electric Eye's siren vocals are likely digitised for thematic effect. The lyrics tell a futuristic (no more) story. At the end of Riding On The Wind’s the vocals soar and the guitars are simply spectacular. Listen to the beginning of the song, however, and hear an octopus demolish the drums. Bloodstone’s lyrics probably mean the song is undervalued. In contrast, the lyrics to (Take these) chains are unconvincing as the song slows things down a notch. Pain And Pleasure is deeper and mid-paced, but soon the screeeching for vengeance is back on track with the title track’s rapid-fire proto thrash and speeds despite the song’s breaks. Here Halford is on a tear as he wails in ripping style without respite to his own vocals or the listeners' ears. The bridge is as business-like as the dual guitar attacks and business is authentic metal all the way. The melody, which is backed with an attacking rhythm may not be ignored. It is time to mention the drums again. It sounds like Dave Holland is breaking his kit arhythmically rather than playing to the beat. Shouldn't this song be called Pain And Pleasure? The backing screams are what most bands cannot achieve as main vocals. You've Got Another Thing coming was, if memory serves me, a single. Obviously, it is because of the more catchy appeal one hears, but it does have a sing-along quality without sacrificing the metal. Where do these guys bring these riff after riff and lead after lead? Judas Priest used to throw them at the elite that are the metallians. You've Got Another Thing Coming might have been a single, but at 5:10 is one of the album's longer tracks. Fever is even longer and more commercially-tinged, but it’s a barnstorming 'slow' song that crescendos fast. Watch for a great guitar tone that is simultaneously sharp. The tracks are engineered to hit one ear then the other then the middle of one’s forehead and back and forth. The solo and the vocal effects and even reverbed string are reminiscent of 1981's Point Of Entry. This is purely a speculation but could this have been an older track? Devil's Child is not as timeless as the rest of the line-up. The backing vocals are too obvious. Still, the vocals hit higher pitches to perfection.
I have put aside the common copy of Screaming For Vengeance in favour of the 30th edition reissue, which includes live tracks which come complete with exhorted sing-alongs and crowd participation!
Be it San Antonio Civic Center (sic) or US Festival, at Devore, San Bernardino, California the band proves it can cut it as well live - in case someone somewhere in Timbaktu didn't know this. As Lord Metallian myself my first concert was none other than Priest 1984 on the aforementioned Defenders tour an experience never forgotten.
This edition’s live tracks have probably been available in video format (in a more complete version) and likely in the Metallian Library already, but their inclusion is going to introduce Priest's live prowess to more people as it gives the anniversary edition meaning. By the way, is that a growl at the end of the live version of Riding On The Wind?
This recording and album must have been a difficult year for Judas Priest given that they had to see their previous openers, Iron Maiden, capture metal hearts and hit the top of the charts, but this band and album holds its own. "I believe in the deviiiiil, I believe in the devil's child ...." - Ali “The Metallian”
JUDAS PRIEST - PAINKILLER - COLUMBIA
Painkiller was one of only two Priest studio albums in the 1990s. The reason for this is that singer Rob Halford decided to leave the band shortly after the very successful Painkiller tour. The other ’90s album, Jugulator, was recorded with vocalist Tim “Ripper” Owens, formerly of Winter’s Bane, and was a cold CD, which was an emotionless piece of modern riffing and mediocre songs (with a few exceptions). Ripper’s vocals were great, but the songs just were too close to the prevailing trend. Like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest decided to get their original singer back after just two albums with the replacement. After the Demolition album, Halford was back in.
Painkiller belongs to the top five of Priest albums and is one of the best classic metal recordings of the '90s. Drummer Scott Travis, acquired from Paul Gilbert’s band Racer X, shows incredible double-bass drum skills, especially on the opener and title track, which is one of the heaviest songs the band has ever written. The guitar solos are amazing also. There is not one weak song on the album, but some really stand out. Hell Patrol is a majestic hymn, Nightcrawler would make a great soundtrack for a horror movie, and Between The Hammer And The Anvil cites many common metal metaphors in the lyrics. One more thing: Painkiller is second only to Screaming For Vengeance in terms of copies sold worldwide. It is up to you to decide which album is better. - Andreas Herzog
JUDAS PRIEST - JUGULATOR - PRIEST/CMC
While Judas Priest's comeback album with new singer ripper Owens has been out since late last year noting a few points justifies its review now. Jugulator is a very heavy metal album - read that either way. It is correct both ways. On the one hand it is uplifting to see these legends of twenty years maintain the metal faith. Many lesser bands have since fallen prey to internal and external weaknesses. Songs like Jugulator, Decapitated and Blood Stained clearly demonstrate influences from Forbidden, Slayer, Pantera and Machine Head - bands which themselves were influenced by Judas Priest. The opening riff of Death Row, for example, rips to shreds. Ripper Owens is a perfect replacement for Halford and the music is modern and heavy. Yet, is it not amusing to recall Halford leaving the band for similar terrain? Or that Priest is now inspired by those it influenced? What is the story behind drummer Scott Travis' departure with Halford only to rejoin the band four years later? For now, the fans breathe easily knowing that the faith is unwavering and the band marches on. Yet, how metal history will judge this album compared to Priest's discography remains to be seen. - Ali "The Metallian"
JUDAS PRIEST - LIVE IN LONDON - SPV
Live In London, the CD, is the accompanying audio version of Live In London the DVD. Recorded at the Brixton Academy in London in December 2001, the CD captures the band on the road in support of its latest studio album Demolition. A couple of points need to be made at this juncture. Firstly, it is even more clear how much better the band's older songs are when heard side-by-side with the newer ones. Secondly, this is not singer Ripper Owens' fault. After all the songs' credits are there for all to see. With that out of the way, the CD is a good one. The sound and choice of songs are quite good - even if Defenders Of The Faith is represented only once! As a teaser, the CD features several minutes culled from the aforementioned DVD. Ripper is true to his name and, read his interview on this site, done a fantastic job recording live-to-tape. He is a great singer. He leaves the songs close to unaltered which is not easy given how he is not the original singer and the age of many of the songs. He does modify some of the lyrics though - as heard on Diamonds & Rust.
What is still a mystery is why have another live album? After all, prior to Demolition Priest released another live album. Not all video releases need to come with an audio equivalent. As such, and hopefully, this will be the last Judas Priest album for a long time to come. After all, one wouldn't want this bunch to turn into a joke like their colleagues in Iron Maiden. One last thing, Saskatchewan is not in the US and neither is Toronto. Get over it! - Ali "The Metallian"
InterviewsMetallian correspondent Sheila Wes Det was recently offered the opportunity to speak with Judas Priest singer Ripper Owens on the occasion of the release of the Live In London DVD and the accompanying live CD. The two discussed the
band's recent releases, the future plans for the heavy metal legends as
well as the plethora of rumours swirling around the
quintet of the aforementioned Tim Ripper Owens, guitarists K.K. Downing
and Glen Tipton, bassist Ian Hill and drummer Scott Travis. - 14.02.2003
METALLIAN: Ripper, allow me to start off with asking you why Judas Priest
has a new live album.
RIPPER: Better than not having one, I guess. We did the DVD, we had extra
tracks as the concert was recorded. It's also, in my opinion, a much
better CD than the last live record ('98 Live Meltdown). I think I am a
much better singer now. I think the singing and the performance is better
here. It's just a great live CD you know and people say, 'you put one out
in '98!' Yeah, well this is 2003. It's not like its 1999 and as a Judas
Priest fan I would want to have this come out because it's a good live CD. It's just something we can have now as
we to start writing a new record, you know what I mean?
METALLIAN: Speaking of the one that came out in 1998, I think what Judas
Priest will always be known for is a classic live album like Unleashed In
The East. People will be more prone to compare your live albums to that
RIPPER: Yeah, I agree. This live record, to me, is just raw. There are no
overdubs. The vocals, any mess-ups I did, any
bad notes I hit they are all there. I didn't attempt to change anything
and I think it just shows how much the band has
gelled now and how much we get along. I feel so much more comfortable
that I did during Meltdown. On that album I felt more like I am a machine.
I just wanted to sing well and say the same things. Now I just feel like
METALLIAN: I guess the CD is sort of an audio version of the DVD you
released last year then? Obviously the DVD has more, but is that it or
RIPPER: It is. Well the thing is that when we recorded the DVD we knew we
were doing it at this time schedule. At first we weren't planning to do a
live CD, but we liked the quality and we liked the DVD so much and we
knew there would be more material. What you get on the DVD is the extras.
You get backstage, you get sound check, you get all that stuff like
interviews. What you get with the CD is extra songs and all the talking
between the songs, you get the whole concert in a nutshell. The CD was
obviously recorded in stereo and the DVD was recorded in surround sound
so it gives everybody what they want.
METALLIAN: What about the choice of London? Was it a natural choice to
record the CD there?
RIPPER: Yeah, it was kind of. It was like a little Christmas show. It was
the nineteenth of December and it was just one of those things that we
were flying in from Japan. We had just toured Australia and Japan and we
just decided to have a show in London. Saxon opened up the show and we
just decided to make a Christmas performance to go out
that year with that show. It was a two and a half hour show and naming it
was the hard part. We had to figure out what to name it! We didn't want
to make it something ”we just wanted to make it a basic” that's what it
boiled down to and it was live in London!
METALLIAN: Switching gears a bit I wanted to ask you about some rumours
about Judas Priest. The first one that has been making the rounds, and
you even had to mention it on your site in order to officially dispel the
rumour, is about your being out and former singer Rob Halford coming back
for a reunion. Is there anything you would like to say about that?
RIPPER: It's just a rumour. It's exactly that just rumours. I am the lead
singer of the band and Rob's out touring right now and doing Halford. We
are taking some time off and are all right now at home writing. Everybody
is writing separately. We are all writing and putting stuff down and we
are going to get together later. It's just rumours. People start rumours
every single day and its unbelievable really want some people think up.
That's what it is. I am still the singer and that's the only thing we had
on the site right now.
METALLIAN: Why did you think this rumour was bad or big enough to deserve
a mention on your site?
RIPPER: Well it started running wild you know. I mean you have Scott (drummer)
saying something... and I think that's what fueled the fire. The problem is that one doesn't take Scott seriously and somebody did. Scott got somebody all worked up. I don't know if Scott had
had a few pints or whatever and was out just talking. He was probably in
a conversation with somebody and said something that might have sounded
serious but he was saying that on purpose just to get somebody - and it
worked. Unfortunately Scott had not realized that the person either had a
tape recorder or he didn't think the guy would take him seriously. I mean
you can't take Scott seriously and unfortunately somebody has and they
have run with the story. We didn't talk too much about it on our page. We
just made the point clear. That is, listen it is not true. That is what
METALLIAN: You mentioned that you are sitting around separately and
writing. One of the rumours that is going around is how the guys in the
band want to go in different directions musically. For example, you want
the sound to be more traditional and some want it more modern.
RIPPER: I haven't heard that one yet. Everybody has their own ideas
obviously, but the good thing about Judas Priest is that you mould a
record around that. Judas Priest has always changed and every record has
been different. I think all we want to do is just all put ideas together
and then put our heads together and write a record. We are not exactly
sure what it is going to be right now. We'll find out when we all get
together and put it down, but we are writing riffs
every day. We don't have a timeline or anything as we are just trying to
start writing at the moment.
METALLIAN: So there is no timeline for releasing a studio album?
RIPPER: There is no timeline. What happens when you put a timeline on it
is that you miss it anyway. So if we said we are going to put it out on a
certain date you would know we would never make it by then anyway. So you might
as well not set a date!
METALLIAN: What about any planned tours or shows which might be on your
RIPPER: As far as I know we don't have any lined up now, but boy I would
tour in a heartbeat. I love to tour. I wish we would have a summer tour,
I wish we would have some summer dates, maybe some festivals or something
or even to get on some kind of a package - I would love to do Ozzfest. I
would love to do a lot of stuff, but that's not in our plans right now as
we are just trying to write. If the guys called me right now and said
'Tim it's time to go on the road' I would pack my bags and go. I love
METALLIAN: Let us change subjects. What would you consider as your
favorite Priest record from the period before you were in the band?
RIPPER: I loved Sad Wings of Destiny, I loved Screaming For Vengeance,
the classic songs on there... Painkiller was a fine shot in the butt for
the band. It was a great record. It had so much balls and substance to it.
METALLIAN: What about the comparisons made between the albums you have
sung on and the older ones? For example, Painkiller versus Jugulator or
RIPPER: I just think, to tell the truth, the band with me is undergoing
the natural progression of a band with a new singer. There is a little
bit more low end, a little bit more of a versatile voice and maybe a
little bit of a wider range now. I sing a lot more in character. The
thing people have to realize is that Judas Priest musically do what they
did anyway. They are not going to change, but there was seven years without a
Judas Priest record so you really didn't see that transition into
Jugulator. Obviously Painkiller was a pretty fast and heavy record so
there was seven years before another album cam out and it was a natural
progression for the band then. I think that what Judas Priest does now is
exactly what I would want them to do. I think Demolition is a lot like
when they released Sad Wings Of Destiny which was a very versatile record
with pianos and odd harmonies and really about songs. It was a different
thing that was going on with that album and Demolition did the same thing
and threw people for a loop. The more you listen to Demolition the better
it is. It has a lot of melodies and that is just why it reminds me of Sad
Wings Of Destiny. There are a couple of slow songs, there are songs about
characters and I think it's a classical Judas Priest record.
METALLIAN: Keeping in mind that you mentioned how you can't know what the
other guys are writing, would you say that people should expect the same
kind of progression you just mentioned to be heard on the next album?
RIPPER: You know I haven't a clue! The stuff I am writing now isn't as
intricate and is probably more straightforward
(than the stuff on Demolition). I am a big verse, chorus, verse, chorus,
solo, verse, chorus type of a guy. I like an album like a British Steel
type of a record, but those guys are the masters at writing music. Glen
and Ken are just masters at it. They have done it for years and you don't
ever know what to expect. I mean when you look at it, the only two
records that were even similar were Screaming For Vengeance and Defenders
Of The Faith. Every other one was different from its predecessor. Even
when we start working on the next album together we start going and going
and going and who knows what comes out of it!
METALLIAN: You are referring to how the band went from releasing
Defenders to Turbo then to Ram It Down which are three different records
RIPPER: They were, I think you listen to the music from the '80s compared
to music from the '70s and they were different. When people say that our
music is different now, it was almost the year 2000 when we released
another record and things change. You don't use the same recording
equipment that you used to. You have to progress or you might as well
just crawl under a rock and die, but you know you still have to be true
to your metal roots and your metal form. I think that's what Judas Priest
does. We still stay true. My favourite bands are metal. I am a big fan of
Dio, Anthrax, Iron Maiden and Savatage, but I am also a fan of Godsmack
and other stuff. Still I am a true blue hard rock /heavy metal fan. That
shows in our material I believe.
METALLIAN: Please talk about the several-year time gap between Jugulator and
RIPPER: The thing about Jugulator was that we released Jugulator and then toured
all the world. We released a live record and supported that a
little bit and we underwent some changes and then we got done at the end
of '98. Then we changed record labels and had personal stuff happen in
the band. Glen's dad passed away, et cetra. So when you go from 1997 to
1998 then you are hoping 1999 is gonna be it. Well then 1999 passes and
2000 comes around and so it's really hard because you have to spend a
long time looking for a record label and making sure things are right,
making sure that your health's right, your family is fine and this time
we are trying to work a little bit quicker. I mean we just finished
touring in early September so we had to take rest of the year off. We are
going to try to start to get the ball rolling now.
METALLIAN: I recall that a couple of years there was another story about
Judas Priest having to send a demo to the label and there had to be some
sort of approval process for it.
RIPPER: That was silly. You just don't do that. You finish your record
and you give it to the label and they put it out. Judas Priest aren't
kids. That was a silly rumour.
METALLIAN: The off times that you have between albums, do you ever pay
attention to what people think of your latest album, that is if you see
RIPPER: I definitely do you know. I can tell when I read reviews whether
somebody has actually given the album a chance or they haven't. People
might listen to it once or not at all. I mean there are people that
reviewed the last record that said it had no melody and I am thinking the
thing was absolutely chock block full of melody I mean there were two slow songs on there so some people just didn't
listen to it, or some people might have listened to it once and didn't
give it a chance. And that's definitely a record that you have listen to
more than once. That's
what good records do. I think, the more you listen to them the better it gets. My brother told me he now likes really heavy music and he loved Jugulator. He listens to
Propain or whatever, this was a surprise, and he liked Demolition better!
I was surprised because he likes heavy music and Jugulator was heavier,
but Demolition has more to it. It has got so many layers and you can just
take the layers off and there are slow songs, heavy songs and other stuff.
I have read a few reviews where they definitely didn't give it a chance
or perhaps they just don't like us. I say screw them! You just read the
stuff. I read funny stuff on the computer everyday so it doesn't bother
METALLIAN: What do you think of heavy metal in general as it applies to
Judas Priest as well? The '80s were the climax of its popularity, but now you like many bands have to depend on smaller or non-major labels to distribute and release albums.
RIPPER: I think music now is in a real crappy state. Not hard rock though,
I think hard rock/heavy metal is still good.
I myself don't mind bands like Disturbed and Godsmack because I think
they still have a lot of roots from Priest and Pantera. I like Drowning
Pool but other than that the newer hard rock bands' music is in a crappy
state. These manufactured rock bands that they make, I am not a big fan
of. A lot of this crappy stuff, you go see a band at Ozzfest, I saw a
couple of years back and I saw Ozzy, Pantera and Godsmack before them and
those three bands in a row I'd like yes, there were awesome sounding, it
was cool and then you had somebody else go up there and they are just
jumping up and down. It's a manufactured band. They don't have
manufactured kids' bands anymore or manufactured pop/rock boy bands. It's manufactured hard rock bands... they are around for
an album, they sell two million copies and then you never hear from them.
But you can continue to go see Dio and Priest and Maiden and you still
have Anthrax, Metallica, Ozzfest and then the true ones like Godsmack are
getting ready to release their third record and the first two did damn
well. If you like them or not at least they had guitar solos, at least
they'd played heavy chords, at least the singer has some balls to his
voice! I do like to still listen to my Savatage albums and I still put on
METALLIAN: What do you think of the past few years where many bands that
were around in the 80s and were off for some 10-15 years and many of them
are making sort of a comeback, touring and releasing albums?
RIPPER: I think its great you know, some of these bands like you mean
Ratt, Dokken, Warrant?
RIPPER: It's great, its fun, it's a good time. It brings back some
memories, I remember seeing Dokken open for Priest. Its great, its fun,
you get LA Guns that were out there, Firehouse whoever. I didn't get to
see some of them in the 80s but I got to see them now, I was checking out
Saxon and Dio and stuff. I am a big Anthrax fan too.
METALLIAN: Do you see the renewed interest for these bands, what do you
feel is the reason for all the comebacks, why now?
RIPPER: I have no clue, they sold a lot of records, a lot of those bands'
first albums sold a lot records so obviously there was interest in them, might have been for a year could have been for ten years you know obviously Dokken were a huge band, Warrant was a huge band
for the first record, or so two records I am not sure, but Dokken could
always tour, not a
question, you know night clubs or small theaters they were always gonna
be able to do it. There is always gonna be some sort of interest, you
always wanna go out and do something.
METALLIAN: Anything you'd like to end the interview with or say to Judas
RIPPER: I say that you go out, don't download my new stuff here don't be
burning the crap, go buy it. Get demolition and listen to it and I say
Hell is Home and Feed On Me there is just some killer, One On One is my
favorite. Get the live DVD, funny stuff on there. I think I show my ass on
there but its funny. It shows how much fun we have and get the
live CD, it's 2 and a half hours of Heavy Metal, in your face Heavy Metal,
we had a lot fun doing it and that's why we put it out.
METALLIAN: Before I let you go, you touched on the CD burning issue, what'
s your opinion, where do you stand?
RIPPER: Don't like it. I like it if you can burn a song or two songs off of a CD
to see if you like it, but nobody works for free do they? And that's how
artists do make their money and if you have an artist that sells 10
million copies well burn 20, 30, 40, 50 thousand CDs ain't gonna kill them.
If you have an artist that sell 100 or 200 thousand copies and you burn
50, 60, 70 thousand it kills you, man. People don't work for free so they
gotta come up with a system where people can hear the stuff and not burn
it or burn one or two songs and that's it. And if they do it I will come
to their house and kill them and write a song about them.
Judas Priest's Live In London CD is now available worldwide.