Mott the Dog: Judas Priest – Reflections, 50 Heavy Metal Years of Music – 5 Stars

A suitably black and gold evil cover to celebrate 50 years of heavy metal music from Judas Priest.

All Heavy Metal fans have had occasion where somebody comes up to them and goes, “What on earth is this Heavy Metal Music all about then?” with a look of distaste on their face as if to say, “haven’t you grown out of this yet? You’re not a teenager anymore.” Well … play them this.

This is a wonderful collection of reflections from the lords of heavy metal thunder, Judas Priest, celebrating 50 years of rockin’ the planet earth.

Judas Priest is still recording and playing live gigs today, but the line-up changes with each retirement. It’s all still great music, as a couple of the more recent tracks on this compilation prove, but this album concentrates on the band’s heyday around the late seventies and the eighties.

What you get is six core studio tracks remixed and polished, from the early seventies to last year, opening up proceedings with panache. When the dual lead guitars come at you out of each speaker in perfect stereo on the opening song, “Let Us Prey / Call for the Priest,” originally from the album “Sin After Sin” (1977), you just know Judas Priest represents the glory of Heavy Metal. Well done to the Priest not just rolling out the hit singles to sell the CD.

These are followed by ten tracks of pure heavy metal thunder played live in arenas around our planet. This is where the real treasure is. Six of these tracks have never been officially released before, which is obviously the lure for all the Priest fanatics.

Uncle Albert of “Only Fools and Horses” on the campaign trail advertising Judas Priest. (Some say this is Rob Halford, Judas Priest’s frontman in 2021, but surely it’s not.)

There has never been a band prouder of flaunting the heavy metal banner than Judas Priest, and here they are in their pomp. Rock‘n’roll music is the big winner.

To hear the twin lead guitar attack of KK Downing on his mighty Flying V (later, after retiring, replaced by Ritchie Faulkner) and Glenn Tipton with his Black Gibson Les Paul, is as exciting as rock music gets. It also borders on genius with their influences of classical and traditional guitar showing through. Live, of course, it was the contrast in their showmanship that shone through.

Backing them all the way was the dynamic rhythm section. Ian Hill, the only original Judas Priest member, stoically thumping out the low notes accompanied by an ever-increasingly heavy-handed but skilful drummer.

Rob Halford learning his lines for the next episode of Only Fools and Horses, “During the War.”

Out the front, of course, was Rob Halford, the man with an air raid siren of a voice hitting notes no other singer could hope to even think of. Always the focal point, whether arriving on stage on a Harley Davidson or coming out as gay in the midst of Priest’s fame. Remarkably, a very brave thing to do back then. Especially as a heavy metal god with a predominantly heterosexual male audience.

But obviously this audio CD is based purely on the magnificence of the music. For that, just listen to “Victim of Changes” showing off all the band’s wonderful technique. “The Ripper” for Rob Halford’s showmanship, or “Sinner” where KK Downing takes centre stage to let rip on the Flying V. But throughout, it’s music to bang your head to.

Listening to Reflections by Judas Priest makes you want to get back out on the road again.

Written by Mott the Dog smashing his head against the wall during the Pandemic.

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Judas Priest with the heavy metal pedal firmly to the floor in the eighties.

Rockin’ after midnight – Breakin’ the Law – United.

The leather-clad dual lead guitar attack of the Priest in action. KK Downing and Glenn Tipton.