Saturday, April 11, 2015

J is for... Judas Priest

Judas Priest are an English heavy metal band formed in Birmingham, England in 1969. The band has sold over 45 million albums to date. MTV ranked them the second "Greatest Metal Band" of all time.

Despite an innovative and pioneering body of work in the late 1970s, the band struggled with indifferently-produced records, repeated changes of drummer and a lack of major commercial success or attention until 1980 when they adopted a more simplified sound on the album British Steel, which helped shoot them to rock superstar status. In 1989, they were named as defendants in an unsuccessful lawsuit alleging that subliminal messages on their albums had caused the suicide attempts of two young men.

The band's membership has seen much turnover, including a revolving cast of drummers in the 1970s, and the temporary departure of singer Rob Halford in the early 1990s. The current line-up consists of lead vocalist Rob Halford, guitarists Glenn Tipton and Richie Faulkner, bassist Ian Hill, and drummer Scott Travis. The band's best-selling album is 1982's Screaming for Vengeance featuring their most commercially successful line-up, featuring Halford, Tipton, Hill, K. K. Downing (guitar), and Dave Holland (drums).

Their influence, while mainly Rob Halford's operatic vocal style (widely considered as one of the most unique vocalists in the genre) and the twin guitar sound of K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton, has been adopted by many bands. Their image of leather, spikes, and other taboo articles of clothing were widely influential during the glam metal era of the 1980s. Their 1980 album, British Steel, has been referred to as the "record that, more than any other, codified what we mean by "heavy metal". Despite a decline in exposure during the mid 1990s, the band has once again seen a resurgence, including worldwide tours, being inaugural inductees into the VH1 Rock Honors in 2005, receiving a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance in 2010, and their songs featured in video games such as Guitar Hero and the Rock Band series.

Prior to releasing 1980's British Steel, Judas Priest had been making moves toward streamlining their music into a simpler, less processed sound. That approach came to full fruition on British Steel. "Breaking the Law" combines a recognizable minor-key opening riff and a rhythmic chorus as its main hooks. There is a change-up on the mostly instrumental bridge, a new chord progression with Halford shouting "You don't know what it's like!" before the sound effect of a police car's siren leads back into the main riff (made using a Stratocaster by Downing). More recent live performances of the song have featured a short solo by KK over the bridge. The outro of the song is the main riff played repeatedly with Halford singing the chorus and Downing playing power chords.

The lyrics tell of someone who gets tired of everything that comes with an ordinary life-that life has become boring. This leads the person to take a chance and start breaking the law.

The song featured some sound effects, including the sound of breaking glass and police siren. The band were recording British Steel at Tittenhurst Park, which was the home of The Beatles's drummer Ringo Starr. For the breaking glass effect, the band used milk bottles that a milkman brought them in the morning, and the police siren was actually guitarist K.K. Downing using the tremolo arm on his Stratocaster.
(bio and background courtesy of wikipedia)

And now is the time to enjoy today's earworm:

What does tomorrow bring?

Will it be KISS?  Keith Urban?  Kenny Wayne Shepherd?

or maybe "Keep On Loving You"?  "Kickstart My Heart"?  "Knock Three Times"?

or perhaps a style/genre - K-Pop? Kiwi Rock? Karaoke?

Tune in to find out!

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