Judas Priest - Rocka Rolla

EricEric USA
edited June 2 in year-1974

For those unfamiliar with early Priest, the resultant album is not the burn out your eyes while screaming through hell sound of their later albums, but more akin to the blues based denim and greasy hair rock of the day.

Judas Priest - Rocka Rolla
ARTIST: Judas Priest
ALBUM: Rocka Rolla
LABEL: Gull
SERIAL: GULP1005
YEAR: 1974
CD REISSUE: 2000, Koch Records, KOC-CD-8068 * 1993 Repertoire (Germany), REP 4350 WY * 1988, RCA, 5041-2-R

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England Flag
LINEUP: Rob Halford - vocals, harmonica * K.K Downing - guitar * Glenn Tipton - guitar, synthesizer, backing vocals * Ian Hill - bass * John Hinch - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 One For The Road * 02 Rocka Rolla * 03 Winter * 04 Deep Freeze * 05 Winter Retreat * 06 Cheater * 07 Never Satisfied * 08 Run Of The Mill * 09 Dying To Meet You * 10 Caviar And Meths

WEBLINKS: Site Link

Background

Try as I might I never could get past Priest's post 'Stained Class' bondage biker gear. Fashion trendsetters without ever setting out to do so, they are still one of the most influential bands in the metal circus and the S&M image was fun at first, but as the years rolled on it seemed a cliche that wouldn't go away with every thrash, black metal and speed metal band copping the same look.

Oh well, it is what it is and musically this was never a band to be trifled with so let's go back to a time when Judas Priest looked more like they had just raided Robert Plant's closet than sex shop hangers on. Taking their name from a very un-metal Bob Dylan tune, the initial band formed in 1969 and from here on it's a typical tale of rock 'n' roll dreams come true.

Living in squalor on crackers and cheese, numerous line-up changes, pub dates in every nook and cranny of the UK, support slots with Budgie, Edgar Broughton Band, Slade, Thin Lizzy, Trapeze, Family and Status Quo while turned down by their future label Gull Records not once, but twice.

Their perseverance finally paid off with said label finally forking over the cash and a crummy contract after a showcase at the Marquee, never looking back.

The Songs

For those unfamiliar with early Priest, the resultant album is not the burn out your eyes while screaming through hell sound of their later albums, but more akin to the blues based denim and greasy hair rock of the day.

Produced by Rodger Bain coming off the first three Black Sabbath slabs of doom, 'Rocka Rolla' was the product of a label who didn't want the heavy songs from the bands original repertoire recorded, instead looking for a pub-ish hard rock record that almost included and I kid you not - horns at one point!

What Gull finally got was a damn fine album with no commercial potential whatsoever. After all, this is Judas Priest were talking about and 'One For The Road' owes much to Sabbath's patented plodding heaviness with the title track sounding like a clarion call for flocks of leather-winged headbangers everywhere as Halford's high pitched screams lead the way.

Oppressive and gloomy, 'Rocka Rolla' never punches its way through the graveyard sod, but still offers the occasional glimpses of murky sunlight with the bluesy guitar turned Tony Iommi channeled riff-fest. 'Run Of The Mill', which builds to a glorious finale, rounds out the set with the jangly shades of Blue Oyster Cult instrumental 'Caviar and Meths' whittled down from it's original ten minutes plus, no thanks again to Gull Records.

In Summary

With its classic album cover, 'Rocka Rolla' will have far more appeal to connoisseurs of early '70s hard rock than those weaned on 'British Steel' and 'Screaming For Vengeance'. Still, the album's a must for any serious collection and despite the band's issues with Gull, the imprints Judas Priest catalog which includes the skin-searing follow-up 'Sad Wings Of Destiny'. These have pretty much stayed in print over the years making it easier than ever to own the album that started it all.


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