Before I get into this one, let me first get out the information that this album’s true 30th Anniversary was on Saturday 1/4/2014; However, with the “New Year’s Music Resolution” series just beginning and a full plate to contend with I held off a few days before getting to raise a glass and a hearty pair of horns to Judas Priest’s fantastic “Defenders Of The Faith” which is celebrating being thirty years and four days old today. Happy Anniversary to a seriously heavy album; let me scroll back in time and give you some personal opinion on it.
“Defenders Of The Faith” is Judas Priest’s 9th album and followed their incredible “Screaming For Vengeance” release of 1982. I was already a Priest fan and had been continually listening since “Hell Bent For Leather” and like many fans of the band around this time, I was happy to see them keeping it nice and heavy and on the fast side with the newest release. Yeah “British Steel” and “Point Of Entry” had some moments but I craved the intensity that they were capable of and with “Defenders” they did not disappoint. I recalled going to the neighborhood record store almost immediately after it was put on the shelves and got the group of fellow Priest fans to join me in a listen down in my parent’s basement. From the moment that the needle hit the grooves on that black disc and the first razor riffs of “Freewheel Burning” began we were all sold on the release. Sure it was only the first track but “Jawbreaker” followed it and that was intense and while “Rock Hard Ride Free” was more of a sing along type of track it only helped warm us up for “The Sentinel” (which became one of my very own personal favorites on the album in addition to the opener). The Metallian kept on riding proud and sinister with its power as “Love Bites” blasted through the speakers and of course since we were dealing with an LP we had to pause our enjoyment and turn the album over. Oh yea and should you not really know what “The Metallian” actually is, it’s that monstrous creature that is presented on the albums cover. It was conceptualized by the members of the band and during their worldwide tour would be on the stage with them. I had to say that was pretty damn cool. Doug Johnson designed it for their album cover. Nice work Doug.
On the second side we also had “Eat Me Alive” which was never a particular favorite of mine and apparently the same applied for Tipper Gore and those idiots in the PMRC. Yeah these were the days of Metal getting the once over by a bunch of Washington Wives. Personally I preferred “Some Heads Are Gonna Roll” and the great power ballad of “Night Comes Down”. The last two tracks on the release always felt like hurried numbers but they served as a perfect closer to the offering as a whole. Rob Halford never sounded better and the twin guitar attack of Downing and Tipton was exemplary across the board. There were kudos for the rhythm section of Hill and Holland as well. The bands tour for this album hit NYC in June and they brought Great White along for the run. I was at this show and admit that I hated Great White and only wanted to get my Priest fix. It was my very first time seeing Judas Priest in concert and historically this show was infamous for being the one where the fans decided to tear up the seats and fling them down as far as they could go. I swear I am not lying when I tell you that I didn’t tear up the seats myself (I was afraid of being tossed out by security) but I did keep the stuff flying down if it reached me. Suffice it to say Priest was barred from performing there ever again. Sadly it was not their fault. I wanted to share the image of the physical ticket but when I found it had noticed that the ticket taker tore any reference of it being a Priest ticket (screams loudly) and while I do have the tour book somewhere I was not attempting to dig that out of storage.
What did this album by Judas Priest mean to you as a fan? I understand completely that the younger readers would not have snared it as long ago as I did but do please let me know the level of Metal impact this one had on you as a fan of the band or the genre as a whole. I would love to hear it.
Original Track Listing:
1. Freewheel Burning
3. Rock Hard, Ride Free
4. The Sentinel
5. Love Bites
6. Eat Me Alive
7. Some Heads Are Gonna Roll
8. Night Comes Down
9. Heavy Duty
10. Defenders Of The Faith
Official Website: www.judaspriest.com
The Judas Priest catalog was remastered back in 2001 and this like the other releases had two bonus tracks included on it. In this particular case we have the studio track “Turn On Your Light” (which was written during the sessions for the bands “Turbo” album) along with a live version of “Heavy Duty/Defenders Of The Faith”. The link below will take you to the means to order the remastered version. I wish there was some video from this tour being revealed as discovered but alas this does not seem to be the case.