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Judas Priest moved to a more mechanical production with 1984's Defenders of the Faith, but the epitome of polish and mechanical feeling is 1986's Turbo. Defenders of the Faith was accepted by the heavy metal community much easier than Turbo was, likely because it is a much heavier and darker record, the production not taking anything away from that. Defenders is dark, moody, and the heaviest Priest record before Painkiller. Turbo may have come as a shock to those not paying attention to the production, it is the opposite musically. Turbo is light, fun, and much more commercial than Defenders of the Faith. Though Defenders is undeniably the better album, Turbo is not the wreck it is made out to be. It's a fun mid '80s metal album from the gods of the genre.
Dave Holland throws away the acoustic drums and uses what sounds like drum triggers for the popular LinnDrum, used by artists of that time such as Prince and Phil Collins. This may immediately appall loyal metal followers, but it's just a drum sound collection. It's purpose was not exclusively to be used by those aforementioned artists. It's a pleasant sound, dated, but not bad. It's mechanical feel fits the mood of the songs, especially the robotic opener "Turbo Lover". Starting with guitar synthesizers and slowly building in dynamics the same way past classics like "Victim of Changes" did, "Turbo Lover" has an explosive vocoder chorus and a really catchy guitar solo. People hate this album because of the melody and push towards commercialism, but for me it's a drawing point. It's not the same thing as every other Priest record, it took chances and they were rewarded with a double platinum success hear in America. The use of guitar synthesizers is not the same as keyboards, it's experimenting but still with guitars. They're not hiring any outside keyboard players to hit the top 40, they're just experimenting with the new technology of the day, and seeing the commercial power that it could possibly have. What's wrong with playing with your new toy a little? They could have taken it much further than they did, they implement the guitar synths in more of a rocking and less cheesy way.
"Out in the Cold" is another great ballad from a band that wrote their share of classic and underrated ones. Opening with an ominous section played by the guitar synths and building into one of the most dramatic ballads the Priest have ever written, it also contains two of the best and most mood fitting guitar solos K.K. and Glenn have ever done. It's a shame that it's been lost to cult status now. The rest of the album doesn't offer that much in terms of variety, which isn't really a bad thing when the songs are strong and melodic with the great riffs Priest are known for with Halford turning in a very impassioned performance. Turbo is fun. That's what makes it so great. It's great fun without being too cheesy and drenched in '80s cliches, treading water only with the borderline bad "Rock You All Around the World". Mostly Turbo is fun mid-paced tunes, with somewhat cheesy lyrics, but that cheesiness never overrides the quality of the music. "Hot for Love", "Private Property", "Locked In", "Wild Nights, Hot & Crazy Days" etc all are great songs to drive around during the summer to. Not particularly deep, but pleasurable.
Turbo is likely criticized because many see it as coming too close to the glam metal acts of the day. That its too commercial and has too many synthesizers. Priest blends the synthesizers and more melodic sensibilities with their trademark metal, and make an album that is still as fun today as it was in 1986. Unfairly maligned, Turbo is just another superb release from the metal gods.
Let's face it, it's happened to nearly every metal band in the 80's. It happened to Raven, it happened to Saxon, it even affected Celtic Frost. This happening is when a band signs on to a major label, or is one one already, and they are told by their producers to go for a more radio-friendly sound. What really surprises me is that this album was produced by none other than Tom Allom, who produced many of Judas Priest's albums as well as many of Black Sabbath's. He even produced Def Leppard's "On through the Night", at a time when Def Leppard actually sounded good. I have no idea what Mr. Allom or Judas Priest were thinking when they cranked this out, cos it sure sounds WAY different than their previous releases.
One thing that makes this album stick out like a sore thumb is its use of synthesizers. Up until now, Judas Priest had practically never used synthesizers, and now, songs like "Turbo Lover" and "Out in the Cold" are full of its sound, so much so that it kind of outweighs the heavy guitar sound that Priest is known for. Now, synthesizers aren't really bad, I mean, there are bands like Dio that use them to a great effect. It's just that when synthesizers are used to create a sci-fi-like sound that mirrors that of Devo, and the band that is using them to create that sound is known mostly for music made with guitars, there's bound to be problems. Oh, and there's also the robot-like voice in the chorus of "Turbo Lover", another thing that bothers me about the song.
Another fault with this album is that Judas Priest almost completely strayed from their style of heavy metal. In the case of "Parental Guidance", the band discarded the idea of making a blasting, aggressive-sounding song in favor of making a cheesy one revolving around getting away from your parents. This kind of songwriting would work well with Twisted Sister, but Priest? Nuh-uh! "Wild Nights, Hot & Crazy Days" is a pretty goofy and dumb song about partying. Priest writing songs about having a good time is nothing new (ex. "Living After Midnight"), but this particular song just sounds like something straight out of a Motley Crue album. Just put your hair up as high as a four-story building, and Priest would be set to make Bon Jovi fans squeal with excitement....or not!
I swear, I must have heard those riffs before! "Hot for Love and "Locked In" contain some of the most generic, cookie-cutter riffs I have ever heard. Come on you guys, You're Glen Tipton and K.K. Downing, you have GOT to come up with something more creative than this! Are you even trying to create music, or are you trying to imitate, or even become, one of those glam bands? Cos those I'm pretty sure that glam bands at that time wouldn't think too much about creativity and focus more on what kind of lipstick they should use. Guys you're not Poison, you're not Bon Jovi, you're JUDAS PRIEST. We should be hearing more songs like "Tyrant", or "The Sentinel", not this garbage!
I'm not sure if Tom Allom had a hand in making this album sound the way it does, cos it really doesn't sound like anything he'd produce (except Loverboy, yeah he produced an album for Loverboy). Maybe he was pressured by Columbia Records to try and make Judas Priest into a glam band that would be easy for mainstream audience to follow. Still, Priest could have made the better choice and create something like "Painkiller", which, fortunately, would happen in 1991. But "Turbo" is a horrific pile of dog dung that should be known not as a classic, but as one of the biggest mistakes Priest ever made. Guys, you're already filling up arenas with the sound you have and you've already made your mark in the music world. What more do you want? You have bands named after your songs, you have GOT to know better than this!
Among the Halford-era Priest albums, this would seem to be the one fans like to rip on the hardest. And frankly I can't blame them. Turbo here was Judas Priest's big foray into that sweaty, testosterone-filled jungle that was late-80's glam metal, and they certainly didn't leave in any stops in their effort to fit that mold. Gone are the rip-roaring screamers about hellions on motorcycles, government satellites, space invaders and evil warlords; instead we get 9 super-synthy pop-rockers about sex and partying all night long, a la the poppiest tracks off of British Steel only made much more embarrassing in this case. For longtime fans of Priest it was a blatantly commercial bid for a good spot in the charts, and left a bad taste in everybody's mouths that only Painkiller 4 years later was able to cleanse.
This makes it all the more begrudging to admit that I actually kind of like this album, and listen to it way more often than I probably should. The fact of the matter is that, even being that the songs are as objectively vapid as they are, when I take the opportunity to take my head out of my ass for a bit it turns out that a lot of them are also pretty fun. I have to confess here that glam bands are kind of a guilty pleasure of mine, and it's really for just the reason that their music is just catchy, dumb, easily digested rock music. And certainly one of the more remarkable characteristics of Priest was that they were at one point able to make their music accessible while keeping it creative and at the forefront of what metal could do, but really they're so damn good that even their glam album rocks harder than what most of the competition was doing.
The lyrics are a common complaint in regards to Turbo. I'd certainly be insane to claim that they were anything but moronic, but really most of them are not that much dumber than the ones on, say, "Living After Midnight" or "Fever", and those songs rule my balls and yours. There are some true stinkers here, particularly "Parental Guidance" which takes the "grown-ups are so lame, man!" style of songwriting to levels of cringeworthiness that I don't think even 80's children's cartoons are allowed to. Lines like "How would you know, anyway? You're just Mr. Dull!" ...Gaaaawd, it sucks. I also think "Wild Nights, Hot and Crazy Days" is both the laziest title and chorus for a Friday night party song I ever heard. Lucky for me, I tend not to focus much on the lyrics when I listen to most music, so the crap-factor here doesn't detract for the experience for me that badly.
That leaves me then with the instrumentals and the quality of Halford's singing, which are really quite good for the most part. The biggest and most glaring problem for most people is the extensively and awkwardly used synthesizers, which come to the front everywhere and gave me a pretty bad first impression of the album. I did get used to them, but I give you fair warning that they are everywhere, right from the first notes played in "Turbo Lover". This track, by the way, is one of my favorites on the album. Again ignoring some inane lyrics, it works really well by starting out kinda quiet and building up to the first chorus. The solo is decent but nothing to write home about. The other two standout tracks for me are "Locked In", which has a good headbanging riff, and "Out In the Cold", which has more force and weight behind it than most other glam songs out there. Most of the percussion unfortunately sounds like it's coming from a robot, which for this particular album may actually be half-true, but Glenn, KK and Rob are all still forces of nature even when performing songs as silly as these, and as the reigning metal gods they certainly show the competition a thing or two about how to play glam metal, even if not how to actually write it. The other tracks are a mixed bunch, sometimes fun, often boring, but generally don't deliver anything too memorable. The closer "Reckless" always disappointed me, never bringing anything to a satisfying end the way Priest's best closers are able to. It just kinda rocks along on autopilot for a few minutes and then fades out.
On the plus side, it doesn't leave the listener clamoring for more. Turbo is an enjoyable listen, with the right mindset, and for what it is it is a worthy album indeed. But it was not a direction that Judas Priest was really comfortable going in, and in choosing not to pursue it any further I can confidently say nothing of value was lost.
Ah, yes. The hated Turbo. The much maligned Turbo. Accused of everything from being glam to murdering infants, I was much surprised to find my head banging in a quintessentially 80's sway. Ok, I'll easily admit it's not typical Priest. The songs DO sound dated and very mid-80's. Yeah, it is VERY cheesy. But hey, when has cheese stopped a self-respecting Priest fan? Their entire sound is based around being the most ridiculous band around. There are a few dud songs here, but this is not just a radio rock album. There are a few gems on this album, one of which appears towards the end (Reckless) and another that appears right squat in the middle of the album (Out in the Cold.)
Lyrically, I'll admit, this is hard to take seriously (is Priest ever easy to take seriously?), but that doesn't hinder my appreciation of this album. Halford sings his heart out as always, so WHAT he's singing is irrelevent. Halford's still Halford, Tipton is still Tipton, and KK is still KK. While most of the songs here are mid-tempo, they're still a fun bunch. This is not Judas Priest's most musically deep album, and it doesn't seem to warrant as many repeat listens as other albums, but I still catch myself rocking out to more up tempo songs like "Locked In" or "All Fired Up". This music wouldn't sound out of place in, say, Back To The Future or its ilk. It's great to listen to, and like most of Priest's post-1980 catalog will get you energized. If they performed these songs live they wouldn't sound out of place in the middle of the usual setlist.
This is Judas Priest's most commercial album, but do not let that deter you from enjoying this. There are kickass guitar solos on Turbo, and, to put this plainly, Judas Priest will blow whoever their competition is clean out of the water. I've seen them live, and they always find a way of completely owning the competition. This is the case with Turbo. It's mid 80's radio metal, but it completely demolishes the competition still, proving that whatever Priest decide to do, they will usually come out on top in the end. Besides, British Steel is almost or equally commercial. Despite my personal feelings on the matter, it's usually hailed as a JP classic.
At the end of the day Judas Priest are good songwriters. They're good at writing catchy, rocking, and heavy songs, and even on their more commercial ventures, they still manage to put out an album full of what we expect from Priest: catchy licks, molten steel guitar solos, energetic drumming, powerful and ear-splitting wailing from Rob Halford, and Ian Hill standing near the back, doing his thing, and chicken-necking the whole time. I understand a little trepidation about the "radio" feel of Turbo, but it's worth it to leave our self-consciousness at the door and rock out to Turbo.
After releasing two of not only their best albums, but two of the best metal albums of all time (Screaming for Vengeance and Defenders of the Faith), Judas Priest went all in. Instead of playing it safe and releasing another similar album, pleasing the fans with maybe some minor complaints of being a little repetitive, the band decided to experiment with their next album Turbo. Originally meant to be a double album with material from Ram it Down and be known as Twin Turbos, only the first nine songs made the cut. And thus, Judas Priest's most controversial album was born. Adding in elements of synth and pop characteristics of the then-rising genre of hair metal, the band no doubt incited massive backlash from their legions of fans who longed for the days of Breaking the Law and You've Got Another Thing Comin'. But what many fans to realize is, behind the new bells and whistles and glossy coat of paint, it's still Judas Priest and Turbo is still a a pretty good album.
The main change of this album is the presence of more electronic keyboard/synth elements, often times used to distort the guitars and give them a more computerized and electric feel. But no, Glenn Tipton and K.K, Downing's superb guitarwork is not "corrupted." On the contrary. Not only do the riffs have a cool cyber feel to them, they still deliver shredding guitar solos on nearly every track. And while there are certainly more pop and "feel-good" elements in the songs' melodies and choruses reminiscent of hair and glam metal, vocalist Rob Halford has never missed a step, and this album is no exception. While not shrieking quite as high as he did on songs such as Screaming for Vengeance or Freewheel Burning, more times than not Halford is singing in the higher registers while still utilizing his famous baritone. And while pop influences mean the lyrics aren't quite as rebellious or in-your-face as Judas Priest is known for, there's still plenty of songs based on love, sex, and rock n' roll. Turbo Lover gives you the feeling of actually speeding down the road and launching into outer space with its electronic and synth sound effects and intense build-up (coupled with lyrics consisting of hilariously cheesy double entendres). Private Property is medium-paced but has one heck of a catchy chorus, and Rock You All Around the World is fast and fun. Out in the Cold is an interesting power ballad that starts off soft and builds up in intensity and heaviness, and Reckless is an extremely solid rocker.
While many of the songs on Turbo utilize synth sound effects and have a lighter pop feel, this is still by and large a Judas Priest album. Rob Halford is still singing, Downing and Tipton are still shredding, and Turbo is still metal. Just because a band like Judas Priest was willing to change and experiment, that does not mean they completely forgot who they were. Diehard fans will still most likely be polarized, but if you've never listened to the album, don't listen to everything you hear. Give it a listen, you might be surprised to find it's still a Judas Priest. And a pretty underrated one at that.
Turbo has always caught a bit of flack from a segment of metaldom due to its ridiculous levels of accessibility, but let's be honest about this: Judas Priest, bless their hearts (up to and including 1990) has never exactly but Public Enemy No. 1 in terms of the aggression they incorporate into their music. Nonsensical accusations of subliminal messaging aside, they've always had a knack for the huge, friendly chorus parts that thrust them into the spotlight alongside the rest of the popular hard rock/metal radio of the 70s and 80s, and while their music might have seemed edgy in '78, hits like "Breaking the Law" and "You've Got Another Thing Comin'" always held an appeal to a wide cross-sampling of society, from the rich to the poor to the young to the elderly to the black brown white yellow green purple or whatever other compartments we place ourselves in.
So it's not really hard to believe that Priest would follow up the success of such pieces with an album that is largely wrought of a more 'commercial' party rock aesthetic that might have been generally associated with but not limited to KISS and Twisted Sister. For me, Turbo has always been THAT album, that cutting loose of the more serious elements you'd heard on most of their prior efforts and a focus squarely on catchy rock tunes that could appeal to the average high schooler of its day (or middle schooler, in my case). Granted, 1986 was the year of such lauded monoliths as Master of Puppets, Somewhere in Time, Reign in Blood, Fatal Portrait and Awaken the Guardian, so it might not have been in Priest's best interests to pursue this course when such quality was emerging from the underground (or from their own British peers). When held up against any of those records, or many others, Turbo seems trite, silly and juvenile by comparison, but in of itself I think this is still a fun record for a road trip to summer camp, arms and legs flailing out of the bus or your parents' station wagon en route.
If I've got any complaints, they'd revolve more around the actual production of the record and the fact that, despite nearly every song having some catchy sequence somewhere in the vocal progressions (Judas Priest was not a band known for much 'filler' on their early albums), not all are equally memorable in the long term. This is perhaps the most 'synthetic' sounding of their full-lengths, with the guitar synthesizers sounding immensely cheesy dowsed in their post-prog relish (the intro to "Out in the Cold" being a prime example), but in general the guitar tone does not feel adequately vibrant or powerful to really carry its hooks into infinity. The songwriting is of course meticulous, with tracks like "Turbo Lover" perfect sequences in alternated verse-chorus pop bliss, and very little flair or flash to the guitars beyond their measured, muted verse riffing, emboldened power chord chorus escalations and the requisite leads, but in retrospect I think the sound Judas Priest and Tom Allom settled with here might have benefited from actual fucking balls, as opposed to the timid tones of a turtle half afraid to emerge from its shell.
As for the consistency of the cuts, I will say that it's hard to tell Turbo was extracted from the theoretical double LP that the band initially proposed (Twin Turbos). All of the tracks seem to flow smoothly, the first half loaded with memorable choruses like the instantly recognizable title track, the desperate and uplifting "Locked In", the beefy mid paced rocker "Private Property" with its clapping electronic percussive strikes and the youth anthem "Parental Guidance" which felt like a more constrained lyrical alternative to Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It". As the album progresses, you get some moodier, slightly more serious pieces like "Out in the Cold" which might have been a passable Journey, Foreigner or Triumph track sans the slicing timbre of Rob Halford, or the ballsier "Wild Nights, Hot & Crazy Days" which is total cock rock that could just as well fallen under the banner of KISS, Mötley Crüe or the Scorpions, but catchy nonetheless. Some of the later tracks, "Hot for Love" and "Reckless" don't exactly stand out to memory, but they're flush enough stylistically with their lead-ins.
The individual performances on Turbo are enthusiastic without hinging on the provocative. Rob clearly paves the way, his melodies the most impressive on the album, but Downing and Tipton throw in a few good, curving hooks while the rhythm duo of Holland and Hill keeps pace like a team of horse-drawn metronomes. The guitar synthesizes, which are careening and cavorting about the structure of the songs as if they were just testing the ice and afraid to go skating, can prove distracting in places, and the leads in tracks like "Locked In" and "Rock You All Around the World" are worthwhile if not their most memorable. But as usual, they practice enormous restraint in their performance, with no undue fills or excess wanking (aside from perhaps the over use of the synth atmospheres), letting Halford run the show, and for this reason the divisive reaction of some of the metal audience to Turbo, or Priest in general, is not unsubstantiated, even if I happen to disagree due to the typically great hooks the band tended towards.
After Screaming for Vengeance and Defenders of the Faith, two of the better albums in their entire canon, Turbo did and still does feel like a mild disappointment, but only in the way that this was the first point at which they felt like they were not keeping current with what was happening elsewhere in the genre. The momentum seemed to grind to a halt, even if they were still able to elicit some fun from the songs. With thrash, speed and power metal exploding, death metal just on the horizon, Turbo feels like an evolutionary step backwards, and Judas Priest weren't really able to reinvent or reinvigorate themselves until the explosive, and unforgettable Painkiller which stood out even against a far heavier landscape of thrash. As far as its song selection, I do prefer this record to its successor Ram It Down, of which a few tunes were also drawn from the 'Twin Turbos' writing sessions, but when held up against their greater legacy, Turbo doesn't emerge a favorite. A sunny, melodic and lighted hearted romp that I'll break out seasonally, fun for the whole family (including the girlfriend, who will generally rock out to at least "Turbo Lover") but nothing exemplary is happening and it doesn't feel like a direction I'd want Priest to further explore.
There is a longstanding consensus that in the mid 80s, particularly in the year 1986, Judas Priest ceased to be a metal band and went the path of other earlier heavy metal mainstays like Grave Digger and Celtic Frost and jumped on the glam rock train. Now if there is one thing in the world that I truly hate it’s a consensus, that decrepit destroyer of all things original and individualistic about the music we all know and love. Be this as it may, like with any other viewpoint, it lives or dies by its accuracy and not by how many people hold or refuse to hold it. “Turbo” is an album that isn’t so much troubled, but rather tends to trouble a lot of people, but often for the wrong reasons.
To dispense with the two clichés that often followed this band of either them starting to lose it after “Stained Class” or that this album simply leaped out of the mid 80s due to pressures from the changes in the rock mainstream, there is a logical way to look at this album as the logical conclusion of a progression from mainline 70s hard rock with a few pioneering metallic elements to 80s mainline rock with a few left over metallic elements. The result is a sound that is signified a bit more by the over-processed, mechanical drum sound that was very popular in the 80s across the musical spectrum, and a barrage of synthesizer and guitar effects that are not associated with Priest’s past efforts.
Be this all as it may, when discounting the similarities this album shares with Bon Jovi’s “Slippery When Wet” and Cinderella’s “Night Songs” in a production sense, there is still enough distinctively Judas Priest about this album for it to be recognized as being one of their albums. The distorted guitar tone is still well within the paradigm established on “Defenders Of The Faith”; the riff work still has some bite to it that cuts through much of the keyboard malarkey. Sure, songs like “Parental Guidance” and “Reckless” are about as formulaic and cliché as they come, but they aren’t that terribly far removed from a lot of the fun that happened on Ozzy’s “The Ultimate Sin”, and if they cut the synth-like character of the drums, some of these songs could pass for Twister Sister.
One of the factors that really make this a fun listen in spite of itself is the unavoidable catchiness of the whole thing. Granted, this holds true for a number of fairly sappy albums that were burning up the charts while the likes of even Metallica and Anthrax were considered fringe, but when hearing the upbeat rocking of “Locked In” and the unforgettable mix of punchy power chords and spacey keyboards that is “Turbo Lover”, I tend to hear the same good natured rock that won me over to 80s ZZ Top when I was a mere 6 year old lad with no real sense for music. Leave us forget that this was also a time when the mainstream rock scene didn’t completely frown on musicality and both Tipton and Downing put on a riveting display of lead shredding that actually rivals most of their previous solos.
Sure, this is one of the weaker albums that bear the Judas Priest insignia, yet it somehow manages to keep me coming back despite my general all metal, the entire time attitude towards music of late. It could be chalked up to it just sounding worlds better than the shit the radio plays nowadays, or childhood nostalgia, but this just sounds fine to my ears though it is definitely among the shallowest and formulaic of albums to come out of the 80s. I can understand someone who was in his teens during the mid 80s and fighting the mainstream by spending their cash on the likes of “Reign In Blood” or “Darkness Descends” hating this with a passion, I just don’t.
Ladies and gents we're back to my favorite band in the world, JUDAS MOTHERFUCKING PRIEST! The album today..."Turbo"? Uh-oh. 1986's "Turbo" was an album that marked a change for Priest. They began to experiment with a more commercial sound, adding synthesizer guitars, synth pulses and even those awful drum machines to the formula. The result was an album that till this very day still continues to violently divide metal fandom right down the bloody middle.
Admittedly, the performance of the band is a bit more lackluster this time around. The usual aggression, wailing and punch of Halford's voice is scaled back here; he now sings a good chunk of the album with a slightly bored-sounding mid-ranged hum. It works well for some of the more atmospheric numbers, but what the Metal God was thinking and feeling during the recording sessions is anyone's guess. Downing and Tipton on their guitars are the brightest spots here, riffing it up big time and trading off their solos with more gusto than album offers overall. Ian Hill is nothing special here; he just sort of drones along himself, although he does spout a few okay riffs or fills occasionally. Dave Holland rounds it out (unevenly mind you) on the drums. I have a personal vendetta against this guy, as I solely blame him for a majority of Priest's lack of sonic speed and technicality during the 80's. His drumming is so boring, so pedestrian, that Halford, Tipton and Downing had to write WHOLE albums down to painfully simplistic levels so his lame "tap tap taps" could keep up with the wholly superior musicianship of his fellow cohorts. Why they kept this guy through the whole damn decade is beyond me, but I guess what it is what it is.
There are two kinds of songs of this album: basically, ones that suck, and ones that don't. Major suckage: "We don't need no...NO NO NO Parental Guidance yeah." Ugh. Aside from that SLIGHTLY groovable chorus, this is one lame, pandering little number that should be forgotten at all costs. Shoot on sight! This is immediately followed by "Rock You All Around The World". The chorus is slightly better, as is the surprisingly scorching solo, but the lame, kitschy lyrics kill it dead. Up next is that album "epic", "Out In The Cold" with it's aggravating overabundance of synthesizers and slow, plodding nature. Skippable! Then there's worst song on here, "Wild Nights, Hot and Crazy Days". This is fucking garbage; it's totally lame Poison worship from the back to the front. Hazardous to your health!
Higher Points: "Turbo Lover", the album's quasi- title track, has rich atmosphere, a damn fine solo with goof Downing-Tipton trade-offs, and a slow, spine-tingling build-up to the chorus. The more uptempo "Locked In", despite its corny lyrics, is catchy, fun and has probably my favorite solo on the album, short as it may be. The heavy, slightly sinister (sounding) "Private Property" is now up. More silly lyrics, yes, put it's offput by the heaviness, a loud Tipton-led solo, and a great rhythm to the song. A personal favorite is "Hot For Love", with it's dark, sleazy atmosphere, hard drumming and some of Halford's meaner vox on the album. The fantastic "Reckless" ends it all. This a cool, high energy song with a killer upbeat chorus, damn good melody and lyrics, I must admit, I fucking love. And if you're lucky to have the Columbia remaster, you'll also get the great "All Fired Up" a speed metaller in the fearsome but upbeat vein of "Reckless", only faster.
Overall, this album does have some serious problems. About four of the songs are pretty bad, some so much so that I'm sure it'll ruin the experience for a few of you. But fear not, the good songs are indeed stronger. If you can get past the bad numbers and sense of commercialization, then you'll be rewarded with a metal nugget of fun.
Judas Priest – Turbo – 1986
Here is a little lesson in music history:
1986 was the year that everyone began experimenting with synths and drum machines. Bands like Halloween from Detroit and even Iron Maiden began to dabble into the mainstream with these keys to disaster, although Halloween and Maiden pulled it off without compromising their roots. It was metal mixed with the typical mid-1980’s sound. They moved with the times and mixed the elements. Priest, on the other hand, went all out commercial in 1985 with the start of the Turbo record. This was no dabbling into commercialism, this was like a fat kid doing a cannon ball into the shallow end of the pool. Not a very pretty scene, is it now? Turbo is not entirely awful. In fact, it has some pretty worthy cuts, but back in '86, it looked as if Priest was riding the murky wave of commercialism.
The album kicks off with a track that I hate with a burning passion, the annoying “Turbo Lover”. The song is devoid of any life that Priest once had. This is more of a drum machine driven, synth- laden, radio friendly tune that gets on my nerves due to the overuse of the song by my local station. It is not a bad song in moderation, but everyday gets a little tough for a diehard Judas Priest fan like me. The next song is also very 1986-ish, but the tempo is kicked up a notch, and that is where it stays for most of the album. The album is virtually devoid of any traditional Priest numbers that hark back to the days of Stained Class. The only one that seems right on the album is the 6 and a half minute “Out In The Cold”. With that, the number is still laced with sappy synthesizers that tend to get a bit obnoxious at times. Processed guitar synths are another thing that is rampant on this record. Go and listen to the beginning of “Locked In”; that is what I am talking about here. There is no real guitar sound on the album, and if there is the lucky chance, it is only about a few seconds long. The only song devoid of these is my personal favorite, “Reckless”, the album’s closing track. This has to be the track that makes everything worthwhile on this relatively boring glam metal platter. The only reason this gets a rating above 70% is because of effort. This album really show the effort Priest showed. There is a good amount of great guitar work, but is obscured by the guitar synthesizers. The vocals are in top notch form here. They are loud and proud as always in the delivery from the metal god himself, Mr. Rob Halford. I have two copies of this record, one on the original Columbia pressing (CD) and the remastered CD version that features the amazing outtake “All Fired Up”, which is a great road rage song (from personal experience) and a worthless, dime-a-dozen live version of Locked In that sounds almost identical to the studio version, guitar synths and everything.
The lesson here, kiddies, is don’t sell out. Not everyone will like it. It is a lucky thing that I liked it a lot. It is a rare occasion. I have not met one other person that likes this album who also has a mind for early Priest. Don’t give into the big labels that makes you look like suckers for the money. Will I ever place this above Stained Class or Sad Wings Of Destiny? No way, I never will! But it is a good listen every once in a while. K.G
So the story has already been told to death; that about Priest’s increasingly
commercial direction after ‘Stained Class’ and the pop-metal sound and synthesized guitars which were used for this recording. The end result of this is an inconsistent Priest album structurally – most of the tracks have at least a couple of solid sections, but the pop elements which are prominent in several tracks serve to weaken and limit the potential for the sound, especially during the choruses of “Rock You All Around the World’ and the terrible ‘Wild Nights, Hot & Crazy Days’. With this said, the synthesized guitars are mostly prominent in some intros and solos, such as “Hot for Love’ and ‘Turbo Lover’ respectfully, but don’t really get in the way of some screaming heavy metal riffs to form the backbone of this underrated Priest album.
‘Turbo’ begins with the title track, ‘Turbo Lover’, which is probably the most unique song on the album due to its slow buildup, relatively deep and melodic vocals and incredibly catchy solo. This might be the best song on here – the riff at about a minute and a half in kicks the song into high gear, and the epic chorus and cheesy lyrics drive the point home. Also definitely worth watching is the music video for this song, for the epitome of mid-80’s cheese. ‘Locked In’ has a nice opening riff and lead (again with those heavily synthesized guitars) before turning into a midpaced rocker, the verses of which can almost be described as speed metal due to that riff :-) Again, an excellent chorus here melodically, albeit with cheesy as fuck lyrics. Also worth mentioning is Ian Hill’s consistent pummeling of the low end. The opening section of the title track as well as the verses of ‘Locked In’, have some excellent rumbling bass work and a few little runs here and there.
This is the point where a lot of fans turn on this album, and it is definitely understandable. Aside from possessing a decent main riff and another catchy-as-fuck chorus, the riffless verses and uninspired vocal performance by Halford definitely sink ‘Private Property’. Dave Holland is pretty much a Lars here as well, pure plodding beats and generic fills (fills?). Again, ‘Locked In’ is a great example of how a more complex drum pattern could have loaned a more metal touch to it, and turned the verses from a ‘tap your foot’ to a ‘smash your head’. But here, he is at his worst with a drum score that would make ‘The Unforgiven’ look like ‘Bleed’ in comparison. ‘Parental Guidance’ is much more of the same, good chorus (as far as sounding like Whitesnake goes) but a complete lack of riffs, aggression, speed or anything resembling metal aside from the decent solo.
Although those last two songs certainly blow and are not metal, the next song ‘Rock You All Around the World’, is a sad attempt at some speed and fails even more than those. This piece of shit fails miserably on almost all counts. And that includes the ok opening riff and the good solo section. The repetition of the chorus is vomit-inducing, and I skip this track almost every time I have listened to this album save for when writing this review. Weak drumming, complete nonexistent bass lines, lyrics which read as though they were written by a cretin, and that damn stupid fucking chorus. This song makes me that angry, and is a perfect example of the several failures of this album. Lucky for me, things pick up again with ‘Out in the Cold’. Showing for the second time (after the ‘Turbo Lover’ solo) that the synthesized guitars can be effective, the intro is epic and melodic and sets the tone for the dark and well crafted ballad. (“I feel as though I’m out in the cold!”). A great solo and redeeming, heavy metal song later, the track is over and I am satisfied
Unfortunately, the rest of the album does not live up to this, and for the most part, sucks as bad as the worst of ‘Demolition’ and ‘Point of Entry’. ‘Wild Nights, Hot & Crazy Days’ (not typing that again) is easily the worst song on here, with its AC/DC, plodding verses, the second worst chorus on the album. No redeeming features here; even Halford sounds like shit during this one, and the drumming is of course absolute crap. ‘Hot for Love’ has a bit going on with that ‘Defenders’ style opening riff, but turns into another ‘Private Property’ during the verses and has a boring, terrible chorus. The rest of the song feels drawn out, and “Reckless’ does nothing to fix this. Aside from a decent opening riff, it is basically the most forgettable song on here, and definitely the most mediocre and middle of the road. Here the album ends, in an unspectacular fashion. Sure, there was some magic on ‘Out in the Cold’ and the first couple of tracks, but was that worth having to listen to boring, derivative tracks like “Rock You All Around the World’ and that other crappy AC/DC ripoff?
With the 2001 remasters came several bonus tracks which were from the ‘Turbo’ sessions but were left out for one reason or another. The score for this review however, will not take these songs into account seeing as they were not included on the original release. Of these, I have heard two, ‘Red White & Blue’ and ‘All Fired Up’. The former is an awful homage to their home country, but it is full of cheese and bad production, as well as a complete lack of riffing. Had this been on the final album, it would be amongst the worst. However, the other track is a complete enigma. Why ‘All Fired Up’ was left off ‘Turbo’ remains a mystery to me. Fucking brutal speed metal! Awesome opening riff, devastating verse riffs, soaring vocals by Halford, and holy shit, this song is definitely in my top 5 for Priest! Having heard it after buying the reissue of this album a couple of years back, it has been in heavy rotation anytime Priest is on. Had this been included on the album, it would have been the best track far and away, and would’ve pushed this review up a few points. It would have worked so much better ending the album than “Reckless’, or provided a speedy afterthought to ‘Out in the Cold’ instead of the worst song on here. These are the mysteries of life and death.
So as I said, overall, this is pretty bad. I’ll give it a 72, because despite the pop, most of the songs are at least catchy and pleasant to hear. It’s not like having to endure Mudvayne or Poison or anything like that. Songs like the title track, ‘Locked In’ and ‘Out in the Cold’ make this worth listening to though, just skip past songs 5 and 7. And for god sakes, check out ‘All Fired Up’!!
My, my... what do we have here? Could this be... no, it couldn't be... it is Priest, after all... wait... no, this can't be! This can't possibly be the same band who wrote "Victim of Changes," or the same one who so elegantly covered Joan Baez's "Diamonds and Rust," or even the band who came up with "You've Got Another Thing Comin'." They're too good for that. Surely they wouldn't disappoint their rabid fanbase, right?
This is worse than Metallica's blunder. It's worse than Diabolus in Crapsica. It's even worse than Heretic. What we have here, quite simply, is possibly (actually, likely) the worst sellout the world has ever known. To think that Judas Priest, the righteous Gods of Metal, would create such an abomination is a disgrace - no, a kick in the groin - to everything heavy metal, and good music in general, has ever stood for. Never before or after has there been such a shameless conformity to trends, and there likely never will be. This, not Slipknot, and not Job for a Cowboy, is the absolute worst piece of steaming mule dung the bowels of the music industry have ever spewed forth.
Halford - the godly, the amazing - has become nothing more than a degenerate and lifeless glam singer. He never screams; he never shows any range. He's constantly in the high register, and not in a good way. Ian Hill, an underappreciated bassist, gets the treatment he deserves, but at the worst possible time. He plays nothing but eighth notes below the guitars for the entire album, and probably would have been better off not playing at all. Dave Holland does no wrong, if by wrong one means straying from a boring and typical heavy drum beat characteristic of the worst of glam rock. K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton lose all of their soul, all of their heart... everything they churn out is glam of the lowest quality. This, by far, is the worst performance any of them has ever done, and probably will ever do.
The album opens up with "Turbo Lover." Now, what could anyone expect from such a title but boring glam? They say not to judge a book by its cover (or a song by its title) but it really doesn't apply in this case. What you see is what you get - trendy glam with all the requisites: dumb, bland instrumentation; soulless vocals; obnoxious lyrics - and this one even comes with a crappy, uninspired "solo." This is the song that would immediately become a "hit" back in the mid-eighties, what with every idiot on the street blasting stupid Winger songs from their car radios.
With such a terrible opener, it couldn't possibly get much worse, right?
Again WRONG. Next we are subjected to "Locked In," which is pretty much the same thing, except without the, ahem, "catchiness." Once again we have love-obsessed glam lyrics, and some more terrible instrumentation. You can pretty much expect to hear the first song again, for the most part. And then... it just gets worse. The next two songs are filled with the one and only... teenage angst! Yep, it's just "you just DON'T UNDERSTAND!" written a bunch of different ways. And "Parental Guidance" is the worst offender. Wait, since when does Judas Priest play pop punk? It's like Green Day fused with blink-182 and AFI and every other craptastic band you can think of in that style, only a hundred times worse simply because it's coming from a notoriously awesome (at least in the past) heavy metal band. Check this line out: "You went through the same thing too!" If that's not the most angsty line in history, then nothing is. It's enough to make you puke out your intestines. More follows suit with "Rock You Around the World," "Hot for Love," and "Reckless."
Then there's "Wild Nights, Hot & Crazy Days." Think washed-up era AC/DC at its worst, combined with stolen riffs from every other rock band out there, then amplify it by a hundred orders of magnitude. Now you've got this song. It's so shamelessly copied, it might as well be a cover song. And even then, it wouldn't be a cover of Priest caliber.
And what's this? A ballad? Could this be the saving grace of this total sellout? Perhaps a "Beyond the Realms of Death," a "Before the Dawn?" No, it's not. In fact, it's a power ballad - of the most ridiculously cliched type. Starting with a synth intro that unsuccessfully attempts to be brooding, the song drags on for six minutes and should end much, much earlier. It is the most irritating song on the entire album (a veritable feat).
All in all, Judas Priest's Turbo is the album of choice for one who wishes to end his miserable existence by smashing his head against a wall in disgust. Thankfully, the band would improve a bit on Ram It Down, writing a couple of real classics - but they would not truly redeem themselves until 1990 with Painkiller.
Take this as a lesson - the bigger they are, the harder they fall.
I consider this one of of Judas Priest greatest albums, yup you heard me. Sure, it may not be one of their most heaviest or most aggressive releases, and it sure as hell is no Painkiller or Stained Class, or even a Defenders Of The Faith, but it's defiantly one of their most catchiest album, and it's fun as hell to listen to. This album is not for everyone, especially if you're not a fan of glam/80s metal, but if you absolutely love the genre (like I do), than this album surely has something to offer for you.
In 1986, Judas Priest wanted to do something different for their next album. They decided to use guitar synthesizers which makes the whole album sound very 80s like. 1986 was also the year where glam metal's popularity was arguably at it's peak. As a result, many metal fans accused this band of "selling out", because of the amount of glam elements Turbo has. However, Judas Priest were already very popular at the time.
Onto the album now, my favorite songs on here have to be Turbo Lover, Locked In, and Rock You All Around The World. The first song has sets a pretty cool atmosphere with the guitar synthesizers, and it's very catchy. Locked In has some pretty cool lyrics, and that guitar solo is absolutely amazing. Rock You All Around The World is a pretty cool fast paced song, and it almost sound speed metalish if it weren't for the cheesy chorus. However, it's very fun to listen, in my opinion. Some other good songs on here are Parental Guidance, Out In The Cold, and Hot For Love. The first song reminds me of something that Bon Jovi would do in the 80s, with it's chorus. Out In The Cold is a ballad thta sets a great atmosphere. It has to be one of their best ballads. Hot For Love is an awesome 80s metal song with very catchy lyrics, and awesome guitar soloing. The worst song on here, even though it's still pretty good, is Private Property. It just isn't as interesting as the other songs on this album.
If you dig 80s metal, or if you just want a Judas Priest album that just sounds different, than defiantly pick Turbo up. However, if you don't like this style, than stay away from this album. After Turbo, Judas Priest would go on to continue to pursue their trademark heavy/speed metal sound, and they would nail it pefectly four years later on Painkiller. However, Turbo is the only album with this unique style of heavy/80s/glam metal fused together with a whole lot of fun in between, which is why I like it so much.
Moving further into the 80s, Priest courts controversy by embracing the “glam” sound that was making waves on MTV. With all the new developments metal was exploiting to the full now, this must have seemed immensely lacklustre, not only compared to the old Priest albums, but to everything that was going on. If I was into metal at this time, I probably would have just laughed this album off and gone back to cranking “Pleasure to Kill” up to 11. But listening to it in this environment seems to benefit it more.
I have a bit of a weakness for the whole 80s “glam” thing, but even so it seems almost inappropriate that the molten metal machine that is Judas Priest should be making dabbles into it. They don’t do it nearly as well as many bands that were committed to churning out this stuff, but the mix of it here with Priest’s haughty metal sound turns out some sumptuous tunes and marginally less embarrassment than might have been the case.
It may seem like it doesn’t gel satisfactorily at first, from the perverse pomp of “Turbo Lover”, rife with electronic, inorganic sounding drums and sweeping guitar synths. Though, it’s a popular Priest tune and the fired up riffs beneath the surface do keep it on its toes. Glenn and K.K. are unfortunately understated on the studio version. The production reeks of the Hollywood strip more than anything and does makes it measurably dated compared to their other albums. The main thing for most of it is that the new ideas get more or less overdone, with the exception of Rob’s voice. He’s wilfully holding back his extreme falsettos on this, and attempts to fall in line a bit with the Vince Neil’s of the day.
The album does work okay in Priest’s favour as they always creep in those undeniably rock solid metal riffs that play crucial parts in “Private Property”, “Rock You All Around the World”, “Out in the Cold” and “Hot for Love”. They aren’t just tucked away into a small corner, instead ringing out loud and proud up with the drums in the mix. See? They’ve still got it. The lavish guitar synth decorates Glenn and K.K.’s solos with a lush coating, and they still rip out some quick fingered, hell blazing fury on “Rock You…” and “Hot for Love” that leave the rest underneath. Though the dated cheese is not always fresh, “Parental Guidance” is an insipid anthem that got them a hit for the album, but loses all touch with the Priest identity still here. Even the fun, pop showiness that gives the album a certain charm loses its flavour with this one. This is just way too prissy for Priest, but I kinda dig the chorus.
The bonus tracks don’t need much of a mention. “All Fired Up” sounds like a more typical 80s Priest number but is a weak recording and has “B-side” firmly stamped on it. “Locked In (Live) is another fairly decent live recording but also appears in a different (and probably better recorded) version on the “Priest… Live!” video so it loses purpose. It does sound a lot more “Priest” without the synthetic layers though.
They were definitely trying to go some way to emulating the “glam” bands that were flavour of the week, but used their established sound as a convenient foundation, so it’s not totally indistinguishable from the traditional Priest sound. They got more new fans out of it, but realised this wasn’t the direction they were most comfortable in, and four years later we get “Painkiller”. A winner is you!