Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Judas Priest's British Steel turns 30

Judas Priest - British Steel
Judas Priest
British Steel
Rating: ****

Judas Priest had been one of the most successful metal bands in the late 1970's. With five albums under their belt, the band was rocking out and they were hell bent for leather. With 1980's British Steel, it would make the band metal superstars and give the band a good rise in popularity for the 1980's. The album also marked the debut of drummer Dave Holland, who would be the band's drummer for the next ten years (which was rare for Priest as in the early days, the drummer was always changing). British Steel was recorded in two months in Ascot, England at Tittenhurst Park, a house that used to belong to John Lennon years earlier (you can see the house in Lennon's video for "Imagine" and several shots of it in the last photo sessions of the Beatles).

British Steel starts off with the fast paced "Rapid Fire", which has some impressive guitar playing from KK Downing and Glenn Tipton. "Metal Gods", however, is a classic metal track. The band actually used the silverware in Lennon's house to create some of the machine-like sounds. The song's title has also earned both singer Rob Halford and the band a nickname. Next is one of the album's hits "Breaking the Law", which has more impressive guitar work from Downing and Tipton. "Grinder" is an interesting one for singer Rob Halford as he growls the lyrics while "United" is a good attempt at an anthem. "You Don't Have To Be Old To Be Wise" is a bit filler but "Living After Midnight" is another hit off the album. The song was a hit in the US and fittingly so as the song has a "party-hardy" vibe to it. "The Rage" sees bassist Ian Hill dominating in this combination of reggae and metal. The album ends with the rapid "Steeler".

Of 200 albums on my Top Albums list, British Steel currently sits at #116. In total, the band appears four times on my Top Albums list. The band continued their streak in the 1980's with Point of Entry and in 1982, Screaming for Vengeance, which is sometimes cited as the band's strongest album. While the band enjoyed a nice run in the 1980's, British Steel started it all.

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