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Too much glam - 58%

Lane, April 16th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2001, CD, Columbia Records (Remastered)

When English dogs wanted to sound like US poodles... Just look at the band photos from this era! The guys didn't have enough hair to compete in the Big Hair League (TM), but they certainly wanted to sound like hair bands.

Okay, North America was a huge possible market for metal music, and it surely was noticed by record labels and managers of good artists and bands hailing from good old England. Just think about Def Leppard and Ozzy Osbourne. But Judas Priest? Judas fucking Priest! There cannot be any other reason for these atrocities but sweet, sweet US$. Okay, the band was always looking for news ways to make heavy metal and rock music, but some roads should have left untraveled. But what's done is done...

This album includes heavy use of guitar synthesizers. Not the first time for the band, but more extensively than before. A good example is cold-sounding yet hot-souled 'Turbo Lover'. Its machine-like, irresistible thumping rhythm, steely guitar licks and Rob Halford's unique vocals made the song legendary. It still sounds British enough, but already on the second track, 'Locked in', them glam/hair rock traits come on stronger. They come to make the music fluffier, not stronger.

Poppy guitar playing, their airy and syrupy tones, and love lyricism abound (the opener went straight for sex anyway). 'Private Property, 'Parental Guidance', 'Rock You All around the World' and 'Wild Nights, Hot & Crazy Days' show Judas Priest peaking those "sweet" levels of sex, syrup and rock 'n' roll, the US way. Images of sunny Venice Beach, with people wearing ├╝ber-colourful clothes and massive hairdos, that's what these songs conjure. Plus rolleskaters... And definitely not motorbikers! That vibe is a big part of the album, and while other songs have more familiar JP vibe to them, many contain heavy glam rock elements. It just sounds too much like Van Halen, Poison or any other cream-assed glam rock band at times. So, This was a cash grab, period. Maybe there was something to do with the choice of recording studio, which was Compass Point Studios in Nassau, Bahamas... But then again, JP's mighty contender, Iron Maiden, recorded their three legendary and epic albums there, and they definitely contain no glam, not one bloody bit!

Slower and more heavy metal-ish, somewhat eerie 'Out in the Cold' contains a lengthy guitar synthesizer intro and fine symbiosis of guitarists K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton. Generally, there is no shortage of great soloing, as expected. The thing about JP's guitar solos is that that they are melodic and memorable, being really composed, not just shredded out as fast as possible. However, machiney guitar tones make the album often softer and lighter that it would be with the real crunch. On the whole, this was an experiment gone too far, because sometimes the album feels like "spot the guitar" game. 'Hot for Love' sounds streetwise, despite for its title, and is the bright shining star of the album. And the closer 'Reckless' comes close. These two songs also were b-sides of the singles cut from the album, 'Turbo Lover' and 'Locked in', by the way, so the band knew what was the best material here (with 'Out in the Cold' if you ask me). So, majority of the album is glam-infested. But, fine bonus track 'All Fired up' is another saviour, reminding of previous albums' stuff.

Rob Halford sounds more or less strained on this album, especially when he goes to higher notes. Uniqueness of his voice does help to some point, but his abuse of drugs and alcohol can be heard. This point was brought up on "Behind the Music" television series, so I'm not judging it, just telling the truth. Surely, there are some neat high-pitched helium-shrieks and screams heard here, too, but here his lower frequencies work better. Dave Holland was a drummer with simplistic styles. He did provide the beat here, for sure, but bassist Ian Hill give it life with his playing, that is sometimes straight, and at others more finger-twisting. The rhythm section made the guitar synthesizer-plagued album sound meatier, surely. This remaster's sound is very clear, but the lower end is what it is.

'Turbo Lover' is one of the most played songs by the band on radio and TV channels, and that's why it is easy to buy the album; it's simply a fine single. Sadly, the majority of the songs have too much pink bubblegum in them trying to keep them together. Far from the essential JP albums in general. When you buy the two singles cut off of this, you'll get 4 best songs, but miss 'Out in the Cold'. But then again, this is sold cheap as dirt these days (including great 'All Fired up', 'Locked in' live version and very short liner notes; please note, that score is given with these extras, especially 'All Fired up' getting it up a bit). There's also more extensive reissue with 2CD live out which might not be as cheap...

(Originally written for ArchaicMetallurgy.com)