Autobiographical Order No. 630: Judas Priest –British Steel

OK, we’re back to metal briefly, but look, Judas Priest is the kind of band that commands your damn respect. And British Steel is near the top of the heap when it comes to these absolute legends. I’ll just go ahead and cop to how I discovered Judas Priest: It was on Beavis and Butthead. I was probably like 11 or 12, and they regularly goofed on music videos, and one of the videos they rifftrax-ed on was “Breaking the Law,” which depicted Rob Halford in a suit doing some kind of shoulder dance thing. (That’s also where I discovered Helium, though I don’t think they were fans, per se.) See, the thing is, they’re kind of idiots, right? They’re caricatures of suburban teenagers, but definitely not overachieving teenagers. They’re goofballs who sit around and make fun of stuff and listen to Metallica. And Judas Priest.

And yet, here I was seeing the video for “Breaking the Law” and thinking, “hey, this kinda rules.” I heard it a bunch more times on ROCK 102.1 after that and reached the pretty solid conclusion that the song was a banger and that I was into it. And then I heard “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming.” And I probably heard a few other songs, plus Rob Halford’s early ’90s project, Fight, and while Judas Priest wasn’t necessarily the first band to make me develop an interest in metal, they were probably the first proper metal band that I really liked. Even though I still mostly listened to grunge.

British Steel is the album that features “Breaking the Law,” and it was enough of a hit that this pressing of the album actually moved it to the very first track, even though prior pressings had “Rapid Fire” as the opener. (I don’t get too dogmatic about track orders, especially considering how often record companies basically shuffled the deck at their whim, but I tend to think if an artist wanted me to hear things in a certain order, that’s worth respecting.) But that’s the only real difference between this and prior versions. In essence, the album just works no matter how you present it.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say British Steel is perfect, but there are no filler tracks, no interludes, no intros, just wall-to-wall riffs and hooks. And of course, “Breaking the Law.” I’m not sure metal albums are supposed to be this much fun. It’s probably illegal, but…

…you know how the chorus goes.

Rating: 9.5

Sound Quality: Great

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