The 10 Best Judas Priest songs from 1974-1984
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Ugly Kid Joe frontman Whitfield Crane loves Judas Priest. Probably more than life itself.
His connection to the band is more than long-distance hero worship. Indeed, Priest frontman Rob Halford appeared on Ugly Kid Joe's 1992 debut album, America's Least Wanted and Crane paid it forward by singing on Glenn Tipton's solo album, Baptizm Of Fire, five years later.
TeamRock challenged Crane to pick the 10 best Judas Priest songs from their entire back catalogue – but he went one further and focused solely on the band's recorded output from their 1974 debut, Rocka Rolla to 1984's Defenders Of The Faith.
Says the vocalist: "I’m a Priest freak, so just picking 10 is fucking hard. And it doesn’t really matter what the order is as Priest rules across the board, but here goes…"
10. VICTIM OF CHANGES (Sad Wings of Destiny, 1976)
This record is Priest’s magnum opus for sure. When you hear those initial guitars swell in, and you hear Rob Halford’s screams and magic throughout this song, put on a seat belt because you'll be blown away. Imagine me in high school, not particularly excited about the scholastic side of life, finding various bands like Judas Priest for the first time. Then imagine me hearing Victim of Changes for the first time – it changed my life, without a doubt.
9. DREAMER DECEIVER (Sad Wings of Destiny, 1976)
This song is so incredible as far as patience and vocal majesty goes. I’ve always wanted to sing or play guitar or do something in a band, and I would sit in my room at my mother’s house practicing how to sing along to this song over and over again. To this day, if you find me in like a little tunnel that goes under a train track or something – basically anywhere that echoes – I’m going to be singing this song because it’s so fucking gnarly. And if you want to, peel that onion and try to figure out what Halford’s talking about with the lyrics; it’s beautiful and dark.
8. BEYOND THE REALMS OF DEATH (Stained Class, 1978)
I would advise anybody to go ahead and get a lyric sheet or Google the words to Beyond the Realms of Death. There are a lot of subtleties to Rob Halford’s lyrics – about who he is and how he is – and at the time of this song he couldn’t really be who he was to a certain level. He sings some incredibly painful themes here. There’s one lyric that says, 'Yeah I’ve left the world behind / I am safe here in my mind / Free to speak with my own kind / This is my life, this is my life / I’ll decide, not you.' He also says, 'Keep the world with all its sins / It’s not fit for living.' I mean, that’s so fucking awesome. And then at the very end of the song, Glenn Tipton hits this crazy feedback note that could be the best guitar sound you’re ever going to hear in heavy metal. It’s so good, and he still does it live to this day.
7. RAPID FIRE (British Steel, 1980)
Sonically, British Steel is the best Priest album for me. It’s so raw, and so fucking great. The whole album is sick. But when Halford goes and jams with Metallica, they sing this song. That’s the one they always agree on. And it’s almost punk rock, really. It’s a brutal song too.
6. HEADING OUT TO THE HIGHWAY (Point of Entry, 1981)
Even if you don’t really understand Judas Priest and you don’t get it, you could show this song to anyone and they’d realise they’re listening to a perfect song. It’s really amazing, and it makes you want to get up and move. I love the whole statement and the vision of the song: 'If you get it wrong, at least you can know / There’s miles and miles to put it back together.' Meaning, you can just leave and go to another town or another country, or another space even – just get on your bike and head out to the highway!