Monday, March 23, 2009

The Defenders of the Faith

A far cry from a post about horror films, but I really felt like compiling my list of the 10 greatest Judas Priest songs of the 1980's. There must be plenty of horror fans out there who love Judas Priest as much as I do, so hopefully someone will enjoy this.

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10) You've Got Another Thing Coming
Yeah it's on here...
Some fans really don't like this song all that much, probably because it still seemingly defines Priest for the casual mainstream rock radio listener. Despite this, it's a great song. Great lyrics that work for the same reason many of their anthems of independence work so well. What's so effective about the song for me is how especially in the pre-chorus Ian Hill thunders on his open notes with Tipton and Downing playing a different chord progression entirely; but of course any chrod progression is different from Ian Hill's playing, since you know, he's only playing one note and all. It adds tension and really builds the song. This song isn't really that heavy, certainly not fast, and is relatively tame, but it always pumps me up.

9) Desert Plains
This is a track that took me a while to appreciate. Point of Entry seems to be one of the most hated records in the whole Priest canon, but it does have a few good songs, this being one of my favorites.

8) Grinder
Absolutely ferocious. Lyrics that spoke to those of us who strive for independence, and it has an air of rebellion that really resonates with fans. I can't even imagine how heavy the "breakdown" in this song was in 1980. Groundbreaking.

7)Rock Hard, Ride Free
By the time Defenders of the Faith was released it must have been clear that Dave Holland was a complete slouch behind the drum kit. This song is a true example of this. I wouldn't be surprised if I found out it was a drum machine on many of the tracks on the record, as they have some of the most mechanical and uninspired beats in rock history. Despite this, many of these songs have become undeniable Judas Priest classics, and some of the best material of their career. This track has some insanely memorable riffs, and is a runner up for my favorite Tipton and Downing solos of all time. Tight, emotional, and classic. One of Halford's best vocal performances in my opinion. This is an anthem.

6) The Rage
Relatively under appreciated gem of a song and one of my personal favorites. Absolutely crushing lead riff, with some lyrics that make nearly no sense. Based on the odd reggae-esque opening and middle section, possibly the most interesting song on British Steel.

5) Heading Out to the Highway
This is probably one of the greatest road songs of all time. It's not particularly "metal", as it really just sounds like a straight ahead mid paced rocker; but it's incredibly catchy and some amazing vocals by Halford. Best song on the Point of Entry album by far, but few would argue that.

4)Freewheel Burning
How could we forget. This is the real deal; Judas Priest completely pure and unleashed. What can I say about this song that hasn't been said already? It's unbridled aggression and energy, but it's fun and catchy at the same time. Essential.

3) Devil's Child
It's getting really hard to place these songs in order now. This track just can't be denied. The vocal climax before the final verse is easily one of the finest performances of Rob Halford's career. When I saw these guys last summer their performance of this song was undoubtedly the highlight for me. It is classic Priest, pure and simple.

2) The Sentinel
Despite once again displaying some relatively bland drumming from Dave Holland, this song absolutely shreds. From the heavy as hell opening guitar riff, to the driving verse and menacing chorus, this song bleeds Judas Priest. The dueling twin guitar solos are Tipton and Downing at the top of their game. When I want someone to really understand why I love Judas Priest, I play Sinner from Unleashed in the East, and this track. It's an absolute scorcher and exhibits a peak in songwriting craft.

1) The Hellion/Electric Eye
Some of the greatest most driving riffs in heavy metal history right here. Priest hit it big with British Steel, induced quite a few yawns with the understandably disappointing Point of Entry, and returned to top form with Screaming for Vengeance. The perfect opener to one of Priest's most perfect records. From the snarling and menacing opening, The Hellion, to the classic solo of Electric Eye, this was the perfect way for Priest to show us that the style of Point of Entry was not here to stay and they were back, literally Screaming for Vengeance.

So there you have it. While my favorite era of the Priest is the 70's, they were not to be fucked with in the 1980's either. You'll notice there were no songs from 1986's Turbo or 1988's Ram it Down. While I don't outright hate these albums and enjoy some songs from them, I limited my list to 10 and those songs just don't hold up to the ones I've chosen, in my opinion. If this were a to 15 I may have also included Out in the Cold from Turbo and the title track from Ram it Down. Soon enough I'll be posting another horror entry, but until then, keep rocking.

1 comment:

  1. I might've added "Eat Me Alive". Lines like "Spread eagled to the wall, you're well equipped to take it all", and "I'm gonna force you at gunpoint - to eat me alive!". Rob at his greatest homoeroticism.

    I would also include "Rapid Fire", especially for the middle part with the fast vocal/lead guitar tradeoffs and the invention of the "desolisating".

    Definite kudos on "The Sentinel"

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