Once again it’s time to take a stroll down Memory Lane with yours truly, The Maestro. In light of this week’s news about legendary guitarist Glenn Tipton stepping down from touring with the mighty JUDAS PRIEST due to his ongoing battle with Parkinson’s Disease, I feel we owe it to him and the band to make them the focus of this week’s Classic Albums. Anybody have a problem with that? No, I didn’t think so. And yeah, I’ve already written several C.A. pieces on the group, but who cares? If you’re really a fan you’ll appreciate all of them. Especially since I am far from done writing about PRIEST in this segment. There are many more records with many more memories, and I would love to share all of them with you.
A brief recap: you guys all know my early introduction to the band was MTV in 1981-82 and the videos from the Screaming For Vengeance album. But what none of you know is that the week after my father passed away in 1987 my mother, my cousin Renee, my Aunt Nora and Uncle George, and I hopped in mom’s car and drove to the store to get me my first CD player. My parents had bought me my Fisher rack system the Christmas before, and now the final piece was in place: a Fisher CD player that I bought with my birthday money. My first CD purchase was obviously KISS’ landmark Destroyer album, but the second disc was the one and only Screaming For Vengeance, a masterpiece from beginning to end.
Up till that point I had only heard “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’” and album opener “The Hellion/Electric Eye” thanks to Headbangers Ball, but once I was able to press PLAY and hear the whole thing I was completely and totally amazed. Plus, you’ve gotta understand that this was my SECOND compact disc EVER!! And to hear these sounds coming at me in stereo was truly something special. The twin guitar attack of K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton, the rumbling bass of Ian Hill coupled with Dave Holland’s drums, and The Metal God Rob Halford’s one of a kind, once-in-a-lifetime vocals, this was the stuff that had me mesmerized from jump.
“Riding On the Wind” is an exercise in just how fast and heavy this band can play, and that riff simply cuts glass. The outstanding guitar work continues with “Bloodstone” and Halford’s wailing chorus still gives the goosebumps, while “(Take These) Chains” starts out a little different before landing on home soil. Now we come to one of my favorites, not only on this album, but in the band’s whole catalog…”Pain and Pleasure.” As soon as it starts I immediately become that 14-year old kid in my room listening for the first time. The music and lyrics to this one have resonated with me for 31 years and I don’t think that’s gonna change anytime soon.
So from here let’s bust everyone’s fucking heads open with title track “Screaming For Vengeance”, whaddaya think? The first time this monster came pouring from my speakers I damn near got whiplash, and last time I saw the band live my head felt like it was gonna come loose from my shoulders I was headbanging so hard. Plus, the lead breaks on this number are out-fucking-standing. The aforementioned “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’” is next, and it was/is an all-time classic, case closed. The first time I saw this video I wanted to BE Rob Halford. He will always be The Metal God to me, and a whole army of followers.
The album closes with a pair of underrated gems in “Fever” and “Devil’s Child”, both of which are killer metal songs, and on the latter Halford lets fly with some serious highs one last time. I know that every time I talk JUDAS PRIEST I bring my Dad into it, but y’all need to understand that my love affair with the band was really blossoming around the time he was sick, so this is the music that got me through it. But that’s not all. An album like Screaming For Vengeance comes along once in a lifetime. And I will happily take the memories I have of buying this CD and rocking out alone in my room with the spirit of my Dad in my heart forever. So yeah, this will forever be a Classic Album for me. ~dc