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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