by John Kindred
Staff Writer —
Judas Priest originally was formed in 1969 in Birmingham, England, but they didn’t solidify the core of the band until 1974 before recording their first studio album Rocka Rolla. Originally a four-piece outfit rounded out by Halford, Downing and Hill, their record label suggested adding another guitarist prior to recording their debut album. This brought Glenn Tipton into the fold and the rest, as they say, is history.
Launching a music career that has spanned four decades, Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton, K.K. Downing and Ian Hill forged a legacy that has influenced countless generations of musicians and indoctrinated legions of fans. The band has withstood many storms that tested their mettle, but they have survived and persevered. Even today, lineup changes have not deterred the band’s audio assault on the world.
Over the years, the core members of the band, Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton, K.K. Downing and Ian Hill, have been the forerunners of their style of rock. While known to the world as a Heavy Metal band, continued growth as a group and as individual musicians has evolved through several genres over the course of their careers. Starting out as a psychedelic hard rock band in the early ‘70s, they have traversed the genres from hard rock, heavy metal and thrash metal.
The voice of the band is Rob Halford, although Tim “Ripper” Owens admirably captained the ship for a few years and albums. Halford’s “hellion-ish” vocals pushed the envelope, reaching beyond the typical archetype for a hard rock or metal vocalist. Priest has had a few drummers sit behind the kit and bash the skins over the years, but Scott Travis (Racer X), who, since 1989, has elevated the metallic fury of the band to new heights. The twin guitar attack of K.K. Downing and Glen Tipton set standards for Metal bands worldwide to follow as they took their aerial assault to new levels of technical virtuosity.
The Complete Albums Collection Box Set is really the complete anthology of the Robert Halford -led Priest. The anthology contains the 15 studio albums and three live albums that, again, feature the four core members of the band: Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton, K.K. Downing and Ian Hill, who all appeared on the band’s discography from 1974 to 2009. Again, albums that feature Tim “Ripper” Owens as Priest’s vocalist are excluded from the collection, which, in truth, is only three releases. The Complete Albums Collection Box Set isn’t 100 percent complete, but it’s damn close.
This is quite a comprehensive collection of music. Each album is packaged in replica mini-LP sleeves, reproducing the original cover art. Also included is a 40-page booklet with photos, album credits and liner notes by rock journalist and Priest fan Greg Prato. The majority of the albums are the re-mastered editions, including recently re-mastered albums Rocka Rolla and Sad Wings Of Destiny. The album Hell Bent For Leather appears under its original name, Killing Machine, a change brought on before its release in ’78 by Judas Priest’s record label.
Are you ready for a Judas Priest audio marathon? Starting with 1974’s Rocka Rolla fans can retrace the steps of the band as the find their way from a fledgling psychedelic almost hippy-rock to harder-edged heavy rock. The band travels many roads from their commercial-metal excursion on the 1986 Turbo, to their thrash-inspired 1990 Painkiller and moves along to the dynamic heavy metal return of Halford on 2005’s Angel of Retribution. Judas Priest certainly has cut its own path in the music industry.
Even today, change, it seems, is inevitable. In 2011, K.K. Downing retired from the band, creating the opportunity for new guitarist Richie Faulkner to become the latest member in the Judas Priest family tree. The Judas Priest machine moves on as the band rolls forward on its last world tour, Epitaph, but don’t fret because they plan to continue to release new studio albums and perform live on a smaller scale.
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rob Halford (v)
Glenn Tipton (g)
K.K. Downing (g) [from 1970 to 2011]
Ian Hill (b)
Scott Travis (d) [from 1989 to present]
Alan Moore (d) [appeared on Sad Wing of Destiny]
John Hinch (d) [appeared on Rocka Rolla]
Simon Phillips (d) [appeared on Sin After Sin]
Les Binks (d) [appeared on Stained Glass]
Dave Holland (d) [featured on albums released from 1979–1989]
ALBUMS INCLUDED IN ‘THE COMPLETE ALBUMS COLLECTION’:
Rocka Rolla (1974)
Sad Wings of Destiny (1976)
Sin After Sin (1977)
Stained Class (1978)
Killing Machine (1978)
Unleashed in the East (1979)
British Steel (1980)
Point of Entry (1981)
Screaming for Vengeance (1982)
Defenders of the Faith (1984)
Ram It Down (1988)
Angel of Retribution (2005)
A Touch of Evil…Live (2009)
Label: Epic, Columbia, Legacy Recordings
Hardrock Haven rating: 10/10