| Judas Priest
- "British Steel, 1980 (re-release)"
CBS Records 2001
This was it! Judas Priest reached with British Steel the top. Year 1980 belong to them. Well I'll won't say that Birtish Steel meant the top of band's poetry and songwriting, but it is a point that brough commercial success for the band that launched the Priest among immortals and gave them reputation of "metal gods". For this album everything fitted perfectly together. First they changed the drummer. Les Binks was replaced by Dave Holland. What was missing in the sound of Judas Priest is muscular intensity of a drums. Les was great session drummer, but Priest just needed someone who would provide more noise out of drums, and Dave was the chosen one. Chosen to stay with the band during eighties what finally brought some stability in band's line-up. "British Steel" is also very important album because Judas Priest got in touch with new producer Tom Alom. He extracted from the band exactly what this band was or wanted to be. And this partnership between band and Tom was during eighties very fruitful.
What concerned their poetry and musical style on "British Steel" Judas Priest haven't invented something that would be new or groundbreaking for the rock music. Nevertheless, this album was done with absolute perfection and that concerns for both composing and performing of the new material. It was also a year when N.W.OB.H.M. was taking off the ground. And this heavy metal movement took also Judas Priest under it's flag. Judas Priest were kind of metal gurus for all those bunch of youngsters starting from Saxon to Iron Maiden. By the way Iron Maiden were also supporting group on the European leg of the Judas Priest "British Steel Tour" in March of '80.
"British Steel" contains headbangers such as commercial Living After Midnight, Breaking The Law, than Rapid Fire, Grinder and Steeler. Of course they wrote another metal hymn that grabs every single metal ears immediately called Metal Gods. Metal Gods truly represents kind of self monument for a band and encircles on the best possible way portrait of this group and band's strong faith in all metal thing. The Rage and You Don't Have To Be Old To Be Wise both represents on most beautiful way band's great skillness for combining raw metallic aggression with melodic sophisticated epic touches. Nevertheless "British Steel" in general doesn't contain any complexity. Everything is done in straight linear vein through expressive simple riffs but performed with great guts. "British Steel" captures almost fanatic approach of all band's members, which is a reflection of their strong self confidence and clear vision about the goals they wanted to achieve. Songs are sharp as a blade, no ballads included ("Killing Machine" still has one). Also Priest did an anthem United. They always like to compose such songs like Take On The World, or later on You've Got Another Thing Comin', Rock You All Around The World, Monsters Of Rock or Heavy Duty/Defenders Of The Faith. With these songs Judas Priest always delivered on the closest possible way band's ideology and metal fate to the people. They just believed and their belief just bloody worked!
How Priest were important for all heavy metal movement on planet Earth can be also seen in their magic influence. Well not just by their musical style and image, but some of those bands even adopted titles of Judas Priest songs for their name. Especially German metal bands such as Rage, Sinner, Running Wild or Steeler and for example also Canadians Exciter.
Breaking The Law is assembled on a such simple way, that Priest left over even guitar solos, while guitar solo in Living After Midnight is so heavily simplified, that you are not able even to fully focus on it when you listen to that song. It was intentionally. Judas Priest wanted to serve full heavy strikers, and to capture as much speed, power and high voltage in songs, they use such kind of tricks. And you can feel all the adrenaline rush and boiling blood that is radiating from band's mood in studio. All these songs represents little bible how to compose highly effective sharp heavy strikers that easily penetrate under listeenr's skin and such riffs are far from something being very easy to assemble. Well you need to be inspired but also this ability must be already a part of you. "British Steel" only confirms that both, Glenn and K.K. were born to be the masters of the riff. Riffs got an absolute dominion through entire "British Steel" record. They are always focus of a record.
This reissue can confuse you. It opens with Rapid Fire, while Breaking The Law is third song in renewed running order of the tracking list on album. Well, in my humble opinion, I think that this was old idea, which band wanted to use prior to album's release in 1980. But because of commercial reasons they were forced to accept label's wish that song Breaking The Law is placed as an opener for the album. This is only my presumption. Re-release contains also two bonuses. First is called Red, White & Blue and is kind of band's "personal" anthem dedicated to their beloved union United Kingdom. By it's style very unusual for Judas Priest, yet very interesting as an composition. Second bonus is fantastic live version of a Grinder, recorded during "British Steel Tour".
With "British Steel" Judas Priest made a huge commercial breakthrough. Even in present tense, this it belongs among those few very special albums of major importance in heavy metal history. Priest made a path for N.W.O.B.H.M. bands through seventies, and "British Steel" was a reward for band's struggling and fighting even in days when no one believed they will ever succeed.