My introduction to JUDAS PRIEST came in the form of MTV when I was eight years old thanks to staples “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’”, “Hot Rockin’”, “Heading Out To the Highway”, and “Breakin’ the Law”, but I didn’t own a record till I was 13. That record was Defenders of the Faith which not many of you know, was loaned to me by accident. I asked my late friend Chris (R.I.P.) if she could loan me Turbo but she brought me Defenders instead. Well we ALL know how awesomely that worked out (The Maestro’s #2 Album of ALL-TIME!), but dammit here it was April of 1987, my birthday week, and I STILL didn’t have Turbo!! Well, that would change on April 26 when I turned 14. I had been watching my taped video for “Parental Guidance” from Metal Music Half Hour for weeks every morning before school, and now I finally had the whole kit and caboodle in my hands! This was a small victory however; as my father had entered the hospital two days prior on the 24th to begin the battle he would ultimately lose with cancer a short time later. But we’ll come back to that. Come on, this is Classic Albums, right?? Let’s ROCK!!
In ’87 there was nothing, and I mean NOTHING like peeling the plastic off of an album on vinyl, slipping it out of its protective sleeve, and placing it on your turntable, right? Nod if you understand. As soon as the needle hits the groove and that sweet magic comes through the speakers that’s it…done! In this case that magical song was “Turbo Lover”. People love to bag on this song, hell this whole record, but it was, and still is one of my favorites, and finally seeing PRIEST do it live in 2005 while my buddy Keith cringed remains one of my greatest concert memories ever! “Locked In” was next, continuing where the opening track left off with its use of guitar synth, something that really upset the masses (but not me!). I think it’s because IRON MAIDEN used them to build texture on their ’86 release Somewhere In Time, while PRIEST built entire songs around them.
One of the songs that the band would play on its ensuing Fuel For Life tour was “Private Property” which actually does sound better and more raw live, but the studio version still packs a punch. Even though these songs are VERY 80’s, the production is razor-sharp and crystal clear on each of these nine tracks. And now it was time for “Parental Guidance”, a song that still reminds me of Dad because he used to sometimes come in from working overnight as I was getting ready for school and roll his eyes because I was watching that video AGAIN. Ahhh, good times! Side one ends with “Rock You All Around the World”, a rallying cry for metal fans across the globe to stand up for the music we believe in, no matter what anyone else thinks. I used to listen to this one a lot on my taped copy for the Walkman on my train rides out to Patchogue to go see my Uncle Ronnie that summer.
Now, side two starts with a bit of a head-scratcher for some people in “Out In the Cold”. Again, not me, and certainly not for my friend Patrick Kennison whose band Heaven Below just did a fucking AMAZING cover of it on their Sleeping Giants EP. I know he’ll stand with me on this one! (By the way, if you haven’t checked out Heaven Below please stop reading and hit yourself with the nearest rolling pin, OK? Good talk.) It runs the emotional gamut, starts off slow, but when it gets going watch out. Rob Halford gives an amazing performance on this one. No strangers to anthems about partying, the Mighty PRIEST gave us “Wild Night, Hot & Crazy Days” which to a kid who worshipped at the altar of high-pitched singing was like heavy metal Manna from Heaven with Halford hitting the highs as if his life depends on it. “Hot For Love” is another synth-driven tune, but it also features arguably one of K.K. Downing’s finest solos and “Reckless” has enough riffs for TWO bands’ worth of guitarists, courtesy of Mr. Downing and the incomparable Glenn Tipton. The quintessential album closer, it also has Halford’s trademark banshee wailing at the end and is the very definition of heavy metal from that glorious era.
As you can probably tell, this was a very polarizing album for JUDAS PRIEST fans. But I don’t care about any of that. All I know is this album, Turbo, was the one I had in my headphones during the entire four week run from my dad’s cancer diagnosis to his untimely death on May 16, 1987. I was at the hospital almost every day, and when the medicine would make him sleepy, I would just sit there and watch him, with PRIEST in my ears, and silently cheer him on, because NOTHING was gonna beat my Dad. As a matter of fact, we spent that birthday of mine in the hospital having cake, and it is one of the finest birthday memories I’ve ever had. I still have his card. It read, “Sorry I can’t be with you on this one. Will make it up. Love, Dad.” You didn’t have to make anything up, Daddy. You will always be with me, in my heart, and in the memories we made on a great birthday in 1987, with Turbo, Classic Album forever. ~dc