Album Review: Judas Priest – Turbo 30

By Alex Distefano

It might be hard to imagine for some, but it has been 30 years since the metal gods, Judas Priest released their tenth studio album, ‘Turbo’. In 1986, Judas Priest was a major force in heavy metal, and highly revered among metalheads, many of whom today credit the band for paving the way for the genre.

The 30th anniversary edition of ‘Turbo’ is a 3-disc set, with all remastered and remixed versions of the songs that were originally released with this record. The album had its haters and fans, and in its day, many metal purists were not pleased with the band’s incorporation of elements of contemporary, generic ’80s music. This can be heard on tracks like ‘Wild Nights, Hot & Crazy Days,’ ‘Private Property,’ ‘Parental Guidance,’ and the hit song, ‘Turbo Lover.’ These songs are not as fast, aggressive or in-your-face as past Priest material. Despite this, the album did hit the Billboard Top 200 Chart at the time and went platinum.

One noticeable shift fans and critics took note on ‘Turbo’ was the move from lyrics about sci-fi, dystopia or fantasy, as songs were now focused on real life events and human based emotions, dealing with sex (‘Turbo Lover’) the hedonistic heavy metal lifestyle (‘Rock You All Around the World’), or even the heat the band took, as it was one of many scapegoated by Tipper Gore and others of the PMRC for having offensive and vulgar lyrics (‘Parental Guidance’).

3/5th of Judas Priest circa ’86 – Glenn Tipton, Rob Halford & KK Downing

Disc one of this set captures the essence of the band during that time, when things were tumultuous for the band members, with the fame, substance abuse and chaos of life on the road. The classic album is there with the original track listing, letting listeners appreciate the band’s product.

But what makes this release special are the second and third disc, which give listeners a taste of both hit songs and some rarities, which were recorded on the ‘Fuel For Life’ 1986 tour to promote the album, in Kansas City. Rob Halford’s voice is at the center of the performances, and through his interactions with the crowd between songs, the tracks bleed together, giving the authentic atmosphere of a real arena heavy metal show. The bass work of Ian Hill and guitarist Glenn Tipton shine through in a live setting, and this is felt on disc three with obvious Judas Priest hits like ‘Electric Eye’ ‘Victim of Changes,’ ‘Living After Midnight,’ ‘You’ve Got Another Thing Coming,’ and the closing song, ‘Hell Bent for Leather.’

On disc Two of this release (disc one of the live album), fans get a chance to hear a mix of well-known Priest tunes like ‘Heading Out to the Highway,’ and ‘The Sentinel’ as well as tunes off of ‘Turbo’, and has a variety of work from the band’s albums up to that point in their career.

The third disc features somewhat more commonly known Priest hits and really gives the vibe of the concert in Kansas City. The cheering crowd, and the banter between Rob Halford and the rabid crowd puts the listener in the arena for the concert. Classics such as ‘Turbo Lover’, ‘Electric Eye’, ‘Victim of Changes,’ ‘Living After Midnight,’ ‘You’ve Got Another Thing Coming’, and the final track, ‘Hell Bent for Leather‘, act as a greatest hits collection but do a great job of giving context to the band and the album ‘Turbo’, which because of its deviated sound was not well received by everyone.

Although diehard fans of Judas Priest will either love or hate this album, the 30th anniversary edition release is a great way for fans to go back and revisit the album and its legacy in metal, as well as get a nice two-disc live recording of Priest at the peak of one of metal’s most respected eras, the mid 1980s.

So, though this album is perhaps one of the most polarizing of Judas Priest’s catalog, one thing cannot and should not be denied, the legacy of Judas Priest is far beyond just one album. They may not have invented heavy metal music but they have throughout the decades been the defenders of the music, metal warriors who have transcended through barriers such as age, geographic location, nationality, gender, and more. The fact that the band is still going and has plans to make new music with almost five decades under their belt is amazing. This record might not have been the band’s best work, but it is a timestamp for who the band was at that time and where they were. Hardcore Priest fans and collectors will definitely dig this album, and even more so its 30th anniversary edition.

Rating: 7/10

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Record Label: Sony Music
Release Date: February 3rd 2017

Track Listing:

Disc One – Turbo: Remastered
01. Turbo Lover
02. Locked In
03. Private Property
04. Parental Guidance
05. Rock You All Around The World
06. Out In The Cold
07. Wild Nights, Hot & Crazy Days
08. Hot For Love
09. Reckless

Disc Two – Live at Kemper Arena, Kansas City ’86
01. Out In the Cold
02. Locked In
03. Heading Out To The Highway
04. Metal Gods
05. Breaking The Law
06. Love Bites
07. Some Heads Are Gonna Roll
08. The Sentinel
09. Private Property
10. Desert Plains
11. Rock You All Around The World

Disc Three – Live at Kemper Arena, Kansas City ’86
12. The Hellion
13. Electric Eye
14. Turbo Lover
15. Freewheel Burning
16. Victim Of Changes
17. The Green Manalishi (With The Two -Pronged Crown)
18. Living After Midnight
19. You’ve Got Another Thing Coming
20. Hell Bent For Leather

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