Classic Rock Bottom

Remember me? I’ve been a bit pre-occupied with family business as of late and unfortunately that’s not going to change to a point where I can be consistent at posting playlists, but I have time this week and I also have an idea I’ve been working with a bit on the side... I've been on a looooong run of blues and metal music for the past year and I’ve noticed some things, one of those being that bands that are known for a certain style are more than just what they’re perceived to be, so this is how I came across the idea to do a post, or maybe more, titled "The Softer Side of ________". Conversely we can also do "The Harder Side of _________". But maybe that'll come up later, anyway it fits the Hidden Treasures MO!

So, there we go, and first up is the softer side of Judas Priest. Yes, they have a softer side and to any fan of the band this will be no surprise at all, but to the casual fan this may be a bit of a surprise, whatever perspective you have coming into this, it will be a fun listen...



Rocka Rolla

1 - Run of the Mill

A sketchy and underfocused debut, Rocka Rolla nonetheless begins to delineate the musical territory Judas Priest would explore over the remainder of the decade: frighteningly dark in its effect, tight in its grooves, and capable of expanding to epic song lengths. On the other hand, Rocka Rolla is also murkier, less precise and powerful in its riff attack, and more blues-based; the stylistic debts to Black Sabbath and Deep Purple are obvious at this juncture, although they would become much less apparent on subsequent releases. The compositions alternate between short songs and extended suites; some are decent, but overall they don't establish a real direction and tend to plod aimlessly in many of the longer pieces. Mostly a curiosity for hardcore fans, Rocka Rolla definitely hints at Judas Priest's potential and originality, but doesn't always suggest the quantum leap in vision that would occur with their very next record.

Sin After Sin

2 - Last Rose of Summer

Judas Priest's major-label debut Sin After Sin marks their only recording with then-teenage session drummer Simon Phillips, whose technical prowess helps push the band's burgeoning aggression into overdrive. For their part, K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton employ a great deal more of the driving, palm-muted power-chord picking that would provide the basic rhythmic foundation of all but the most extreme heavy metal from here on out. The proggy ballad "Last Rose of Summer" is the biggest departure here, with florid lyrics and "red blood/white snow" imagery that would be fully at home on any goth rock band's most depressing bedsit dirges.

Defenders of the Faith

3 - Night Comes Down

Eeven if there's a low percentage of signature songs here, there's a remarkably high percentage of hidden gems waiting to be unearthed, making Defenders possibly the most underrated record in Priest's catalog. Musically, it follows the basic blueprint of Screaming for Vengeance, alternating intricate speed rockers with fist-pumping midtempo grooves and balancing moderate musical sophistication with commercial accessibility. It's a craftsmanlike record from a band that had been in the game for a full decade already, but was still vital and exciting, and decidedly not on autopilot (yet).

Redeemer of Souls

4 - Beginning of the End

The antithesis to 2008's overblown Nostradamus, Redeemer of Souls feels quaint in comparison, eschewing the largely fantasy-driven conceptual style of the ambitious, yet undeniably cumbersome, two-disc set in favor of a more refined, classic rock approach that edges closer to the group's late-'70s offerings like Sin After Sin and Stained Class. New guitarist Richie Faulkner, with his golden mane and tight, controlled riffing, suggests a wax Downing just sprung to life and simply walked out of Madam Tussaud's museum and into the band's rehearsal space, and his tasteful, yet undeniably meaty playing alongside Glenn Tipton goes a long way in helping to restore some of the classic Judas Priest luster, especially on standout cuts like the aforementioned "Dragonaut," the nervy and propulsive "Metalizer," and the rousing title track. Still, this is a band that's well into its fifth decade of being "Hell Bent for Leather"; they've explored, both successfully and occasionally at great cost, nearly every shadowy nook and suspicious looking crevice of the genre, and the album's stalwart yet shopworn 13 tracks reflect that journey. That said, Redeemer of Souls is also the loosest (attitude-wise), leanest (arrangement-wise), and most confident-sounding collection of new material the band has released in ages.

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Happily forgot this existed as a "thing".

Of course you got everything wrong from the title to the song selection, but that is to be expected since you haven't done this for awhile. However, you never really got things right before so forget that previous sentence. 

Sears wants to talk to you about the title.

Where's "Painkiller"?

Know what? All these songs sound the same. Really.

Welcome back?

A track from Painkiller made my short list, but I like the title of the last song as it seemed more appropriate. Maybe it's a bit of a premonition as this playlist may be the beginning of my end...

I meant the song "Painkiller". That's a slow one.

My wife and I slow dance to that quite often, its so romantic!

I had Living Bad Dreams on my short list, that's what I was referring to.  

Definite slow dance material and chicks dig these lyrics:

Faster then a laser bullet
Louder than an atom bomb
Chromium plated boiling metal

That's all about love.

Great idea for the theme and Judas Priest is definitely a band who never made it to one of my many Ballads mix-tapes.

Non of these albums are in my collection (sort of) so it's a pretty untainted listen for me. I started the playlist with track #4. I'm not a fan of the Redeemer so had to get that out of the way.

I don't have Rocka Rolla but my first exposure to Judas Priest was their 1977 Gull release Best Of... that sampled songs from their first two albums. Run Of the Mill is not on that LP, not surprisingly since Dying To Meet You and Never Satisfied were a better representation of the release.

Last Rose Of Summer suffers from the same problem the previous song has. It's too long.

Case in point is Night Comes Down. It wouldn't make my Ballads tapes (even if I had this album) but it is a song that has everything it needs in less than 4 minutes.

This is an interesting concept and I hope you'll do some SHT for the other one as well ("Harder Side Of...") which is more intriguing to me.

Welcome Back, Scott. (No question mark)

I do notice the sameness in Priests slow songwriting which caused me some pause on posting this, but I went with it anyway because I really like fiddling around with theme and I'm going to dig digging into the heavier side of other bands as well.  Glad you liked it, the theme that is...

Priest was completely off of my radar growing up.  Not sure if I can quantify exactly why, but like Black Sabbath, they seemed to be a bit evil to me.  And I thought Rob Halford's vocals were always high pitched screaming.

Well, I was wrong on both accounts.  In the last couple of years I have had a change of heart.  Don't get me wrong here, they haven't replaced Kiss as my band, but I certainly wish now that I had spent more time listening to the band back then. 

As most of you know (I'll briefly repeat for the benefit of Mr. Chapleen), on March 5, 2014 I purchased this:

...for $12.95.  Somehow, I just happened to check at the moment Amazon had it priced wrong.  I was surprised I got it and then I was kicking myself for not ordering at least two, because the price changed quickly after I ordered it.

Anyway, I have much more appreciation for Priest now.  And I like all of these songs here.  Every single one of them. I like the softer side of the band, so excellent picks Scott.

Now, I'm definitely looking forward to the first of your "harder side" posts.

Welcome back my friend, to the show that never ends...

Dang. That's a steal, but you should count your blessings. I think they sent it to you because you only ordered one copy.

My son came across the same discrepancy while ordering through Amazon (I think it was a Video Game, though). He did order two copies and Amazon cancelled his order, telling him straight that it was a mistake price. I think they offered him $5 or $10 off if he buys the product at corrected price, but they did not send him the item at the cheap price. Perhaps they would have honored one order, but because he was greedy, he got nothing. Don't beat yourself up. You did good. You got like what? 17 releases for the price of one? You should have played Lotto that week too.

You are probably correct.  Probably a good thing I ordered just one.  


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