on July 23, 2006
This was the first Judas Priest album I ever got, and along with Black Sabbath's "Heaven And Hell" (which I also got around the same time, summer '81), these are my two "Desert Island Discs". I've owned various permutations of both on vinyl, cassette and CD.
This remaster is, of course, excellent, but curious in a couple of ways.
1. Why change the track order? It was fine as-was.
2. The extra tracks are more of a curiosity than anything else. The live "Grinder" is excellent, but "Red, White and Blue" is from the "Turbo" sessions (in my estimation, Priest's lowest point) and is a typical mid-80's lighters-in-the-air chant-along. Clever (if contrived) title, though, since both the British and U.S. flags are red, white and blue.
However, as to the actual music, this is music that has, and will last, the test of time. At this time the New Wave of British Heavy Metal was happening in the UK, where bands would go to a studio, set up, play live, and put the finished product out as a record (the early Iron Maiden and Saxon efforts were done this way). Priest did this on "British Steel" and the results showed the new upstarts that the elder statesmen had as much energy as they did.
Some have said that Priest "commercialised" on this album. With the exception of "Living After Midnight", I disagree. This is as heavy as anything they've done, the Tipton/Downing guitars are well upfront, and Rob Halford (with hair!) sounds as angry as ever. Listen closely, bass fans: Ian Hill is actually AUDIBLE doing the intro to "The Rage"!
Dave Holland (is he still in prison?) made his debut on this album, and while he is the weakest drummer Priest ever had (not a patch on predecessor Les Binks or successor Scott Travis), he does a credible job here, though his drum sound is a bit "boxy". Still, though, he'd have to have done his drum tracks on syn-drums to let these excellent songs down...but wait, he did that on "Turbo".
As stated, this is the first Priest album I ever got, and I would recommend it as the first Priest album to buy (other than one of the many compilations) to a neophyte Priest fan.
They did other good, sometimes excellent, albums after this, but their steel was never this sharp again.
on June 22, 2001
Reissued in the original non-U.S. running order, this record cemented Judas Priest as the preeminent heavy metal band. I say "heavy metal" because of the music and the themes. On its previous studio records, the band had intermixed Sabbath-type lyrical themes and plodding melodies with songs that could best be described as hard rock (a la AC/DC). They would return to the hard rock format on later (and lesser known) records like 1981's 'Point of Entry' and 1986's 'Turbo'. But 'British Steel' is the first of a line of records that would define heavy metal.
The record had its share of thematic anthems, such as "Breaking the Law" and "United" - paving the way for pop metal of the 1980s (e.g., "We're Not Gonna Take It" by Twisted Sister). But the record also had faster and more intense songs, with lyrics of darker mythology, such as "Rapid Fire" and "Steeler", which were the precursor for a metal style of bands like Metallica that has aged more gracefully.
As for the bonus tracks, "Red, White & Blue" is an anthemic outtake from the 'Turbo' sessions which should have probably remained an outtake. "Grinder" is a good live version of one of the classics on 'British Steel' which was taken (despite what the liner notes say) from a show that was performed and broadcast live on the radio at the height of Judas Priest's career (the 1984 'Defenders of the Faith' tour).
on August 11, 2006
What can be said about the great JP and their contributions to the Heavy Metal genre? Other than Black Sabbath, these guys were soley responsible for what I consider to be TRUE Heavy Metal.... A "crunching" guitar assault, "Head-pummeling" tempos, and "soaring" vocals abound. And as far as "looks" go, this band epitomized the visual side of the genre BETTER than any band before or since....literally Hell bent for Leather...and studs...and chains...and boots.
Although "British Steel" is not my all-time favorite from the band (that HAS to go to "Screaming"), I feel it contains a varied mix of music that encompasses what made this band so acssesable and likeable. Metal Anthems such as "Breaking the Law", "Grinder", "Metal Gods" and "Livin' After Midnight" can still be heard on FM stations across the land. Cult followers of the band would surely cite cuts such as "Rapid Fire", "The Rage" and "Steeler" as the real "treats" on this album. Personally, I like every song here...including the "lesser" tracks such as "United" and "Don't Have to be Old to be Wise" (though somewhat "burnt" on "Livin" and "Breaking the Law"). The first band I was ever in (Pure Grain...are you out there!?!), literally "cut their teeth" to this 'Metal' great, and played no less than half the tracks on this album on any given "Gig". If there is anybody reading this that is not familiar with The Priest and is searching for the REAL DEAL, "Old school" version of Heavy Metal....look no further, you've found IT! Also recommended for the "budding" Metalist: Maiden's "Piece of Mind", Metallica's "Ride the Lightning", Priest's "Screaming for Vengeance" and Sabbath's "Master of Reality".
P.S. As I was about to submit this review, it occured to me that I failed to mention the individual members of Priest. The rhythm section of Ian Hill and Dave Holland were as tight and "spot-on" as any in the business....holding the "Bus" together with a mighty, pounding 'Pulse'. The dual guitar "assault" of Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing never gave the music of JP a chance to even think about "blinking an eye", and literally "steam-rolled" anything in their way....rivaled in intensity only by Iron Maiden and The Scorpions. And then there's Rob Halford....This man WILL go down in Metal's history as one of the best, if not THE best vocalist ever...."Pipes" the likes of Rob's aren't "handed-out" just any day of the week....His IS the voice of Heavy Metal and is not likely to be "Dethroned" in my lifetime! Many bands calling themselves "Metal" have come along in the years since this album----some faster, some harder and some 'flashier'...However, this band will forever remain "The Standard" to which ALL others are judged. Don't Miss Out!
on February 23, 2006
In 1980, the musical landscape was going through some big changes. Punk rock and disco were considered dead, and new wave music was gaining popularity. However, in the U.K., a new musical scene was emerging: heavy metal. Many bands came out in this time period including Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Diamond Head, Angel Witch, Witchfinder General, and of course Judas Priest. Now, the band had been around for years, but this was when they started gaining more mainstream recognition. In fact, many people credit Judas Priest for influencing the whole British metal scene. On this album, the band went for a more commercial sound that was hinted at on their previous album, Hell Bent for Leather (1979). However, the band still manages to keep their trademark ass-kicking sound.
The album begins with the speed metal song Rapid Fire. Fast paced guitar riffs start the song, a bit of drum pounding, and Rob Halford growls, "Pounding the world, like a battering ram." Very old school speed metal right here. Listening to this song is like someone throwing concrete blocks at your head. Glenn Tipton and KK Downing really display their guitasr abilities well on this album and this song is no exception, the guitar solos they play on here are FAST. The song segues into the more mid-paced Metal Gods. I love the part when Rob sings "Fearing for our lives, reaped by robot scythes." And then he starts chanting "Metal Gods" It may be a slower song, but it is still heavy as hell. Next is Breaking the Law, a very commercial and catchy song that I am sure everyone knows. The riffs on here are just powerful, I really can't get enough of this one. United is VERY anthemic, it's almost impossible not to sing along. This would be an awesome song to hear in concert. Another well known song by the band. Speaking of hits, Living after Midnight is probably one of the most mainstream songs the band has ever made. I can guarantee you that you will drive your family crazy when you sing this one in the shower. This song is very pop-metal flavored, but it still rocks. I wish more fans would give it a chance. And you know you love that guitar solo!
Grinder is a tough and heavy number. Those riffs are just mean, as is Rob when he growls "Grinder looking for the meat, Grinder wants you to eat." Cheesy? Yes but awesome? Hell yeah! Tell me you don't feel like destroying something! You Don't Have to be Old to be Wise is another killer song with a good message. Very catchy and insightful. I love the part in the middle where it seems to quiet down, and then BAM, the guitar solo kicks your ass across the street. The Rage is another mid-paced song, and it is pretty damn heavy. Ian Hill does a nice bass solo at the start. Then a few guitar notes, and then the song really kicks in. Like I said, it is slow but crushing. Guitar players will drool over this one. Steeler is an awesome closer, it is another fast song. Not the speed metal attack of Rapid Fire, but close enough. WICKED guitar solo on this one. I love the end when the band just rocks out, that piece right there is some pretty good old school speed metal.
The bonus tracks are also good. The live version of Grinder rocks (Rob sure can get a crowd going) and Red White and Blue is an unreleased track. It is a very emotional song and even the band admitted that they wanted it to bring a tear to your eye when you heard it. Nice keyboard playing on this one. i wonder why it was never released.
So there you have it. One of the best known albums of the early 80s British heavy metal scene. Anyone who has the slightest interest in heavy metal must buy this album. Ignore the people that say it is "too commercial" screw that. There are some mainstream tracks, but overall, don't expect anything less than heavy metal. And you gotta love any album that has a razor blade with the words BRITISH STEEL written on it on the cover!
on June 23, 2013
I had originally bought this album, on vinyl, back in July 1980. Earlier this month, I decided to buy the remastered CD version from Amazon. Just by listening to this album, it feels as though I am reliving the Summer of 1980, all over again. At least IN MEMORY, I'm living in 1980 & this album brings back tons of happy memories for me. I had really hit the jack pot w/ THIS album, just like I did w/ "Hell Bent For Leather". They are both PERFECT albums, in my honest opinion. I'd like to offer my review on "British Steel" now:
1. "Rapid Fire"...I was always surprised that this song wasn't titled as "Pounding The World Like A Battering Ram", instead of the title of "Rapid Fire", which is NEVER mentioned throughout the song @ all. Otherwise, this is one great song & I've always enjoyed this.
2. "Metal Gods"...I've always loved this song, too. The only complaint, that I have about this song, is the long instrumental ending. I wish that they could have sung, just the words, "Metal Gods" for about 3 or 4 more times, before the song ends.
3. "Breaking The Law"...I still wish that this was the OPENING cut on my CD, like it was on my record. This song rec'd some radio airplay in the Fall of 1980. I've always loved this song, very much.
4. "Grinder"...In 1980, I NEVER noticed how much this song reminds me of AC/DC's kind of song. Now in June of 2013, I really can spot the musical resemblance to AC/DC. I have always got a big kick out of this song...it's really good.
5. "United"...This song is just plain fantastic, in my opinion. I have always loved this song w/ such nice lyrics.
6. "You Don't Have To Be Old To Be Wise"...As I had just mentioned on "Grinder", THIS song ALSO bears a resemblance to AC/DC's music again. It really puts me in mind of "Shoot to Thrill", from AC/DC's "Back In Black" album, ALSO from 1980. This song is EXCELLENT in every way possible. It also has one hell of a rebellious attitude towards life. And I just love this song, very much.
7. "Living After Midnight"...This song has the words PARTY TIME written all over it. It is one hell of a fun & uplifting song. And it has a great beat, too. This was the hit, on the radio, in the Summer of 1980.
8. "The Rage"...This song has always been pretty good. I like this.
9. "Steeler"...Another song where the TITLE is never mentioned, either. It's pretty good, though.
10. "Red White & Blue"...I love this song, very much. For some oddball reason, this song could remind me of "United", somewhat, in it's meaning.
11. "Grinder"...Recorded live In Concert.
This album is STILL great, in my honest opinion. It will always be HIGHLY recommended. I keep forgetting to mention, that it's really great to get the LYRICS w/ ALL of my Judas Priest CD's.
on September 17, 2012
This edition of BRITISH STEEL is very good. The disc's look like they were made here, but it's not clear if that
is the case. All I know is that the concert that is included as the bonus concert was recorded in Florida, down
south from where I am in the State. I have seen different versions of the packaging for BRITISH STEEL 30th
ANNIVERSARY, so I suspect it is a US edition, and the FBI logo is usually a give-away.The sound is awesome on the
remaster for each track. Like the Album HELLBENT FOR LEATHER 2 years before, the sounds quality is awesome.
The concert is an amazing video experience. From what the band has said about the event, when they first
started to try and go, the power drain was so high the whole rig blew, at least until they could reset and then
restart. The extra tracks are total gems, so with the HD channels "Mobile" rig recording the concert in full (
unedited thank the gods), the sound is more than Awesome. With 5.1 sound, this DVD version of the album is just a
gem, whether you have a standard ear-bud, Headphone, or something like a Monster Diamond Tear Head Set, the DVD
gives you a more than good sound. About the only other Live DVD by priest you need is the Double DVD that includes
PRIEST LIVE ( 1986) in Texas, which also has another concert thrown in. But, in the last ten years Priest has put
out some great material, and the British Steel Anniversary Album is an excellent concept. If you can still get the
Special edition with the DVD, its worth every penny. ( My Surprise, I should try and get the import and see if there is any difference; Lately I have been finding significant differences in packaging or content; Either way I do not regret buying this gem !! ). And the other thing of note is that the Booklet is pretty good !! Too often the British Versions of Many bands albums have great Booklets, and CDs of superior quality , except with special editions by Rhino... which is odd, since regular Rhino versions are kind of below average, but Rhino Special Editions are beyond good, since they are US only [ I presume ] ).
Bands that have been around for a long time and have been looked up to as either founders or trendsetters in certain genres of music almost always have that one album that fans, historians, or the general public point to as that band's defining moment. "Appetite For Destruction" put Guns N' Roses on the map and changed rock history forever. KISS' "Alive" album not only proved that live albums worked, but it also made audiences take notice of the New York rockers and ultimately lead to the release of "Destroyer," which solidified KISS' dominance of rock in the 1970's. Black Sabbath's self-titled debut album shook the very foundations of rock n' roll and helped trigger the growth of heavy metal. Judas Priest did pretty much the same thing with "British Steel."
"British Steel" was a kick in the teeth that the band desperately needed to survive. Although they were a decade old, established, and had a solid fanbase, it wasn't until the rise of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal that the band found real commercial success. This 2001 remastering of that album does it justice and reminds all listeners new and old that Judas Priest is one of the most important bands not only in heavy metal, but in music as a whole.
From the blasts of "Rapid Fire" to the addictive hooks of "Breaking the Law" and "Living After Midnight," "British Steel" has no filler whatsover. Slower tracks like "Metal Gods" may lack the speed of other tunes on the album, but they are no less powerful than the other songs.
Rob Halford's voice is strong throughout, and the playing of K.K. Downing, Glenn Tipton, Dave Holland, and Ian Hill are solid as well. Downing and Tipton have always been one of my favorite guitar duos, and they flesh out the songs on this album with brilliance.
This particular release also features a previously unreleased studio track, "Red, White, and Blue" and a live version of "Grinder."
"British Steel" will go down as one of the most important albums in hard rock and heavy metal history. It captures a revived band riding the wave of newer, younger metal bands and reminded all of the newcomers that Priest had no plans of leaving any time soon!
on July 19, 2010
I give this cd 5 stars, in spite of the fact that there are definitely reasons to be disappointed. As others have pointed out, there is nothing new on the cd. It is the same remastered cd that was released several years ago, with the same bonus tracks. I also agree... it would have been nice to see some additional bonus material, especially for those of us who already bought the remastered cd when it first came out.
On the other hand... I have always been a HUGE fan of the song "STEELER." It rocks on the original album version, and anyone who knows the song, knows that the last 2 minutes are basically a blistering guitar solo. It sounds dated on the cd, of course (and Dave Holland's mediocre drumming doesn't help), but i have ALWAYS thought it could be updated and be a great cover for some band... or better yet, by Priest, with Scott Travis and double-bass drums!
Until the 30th anniversary concert, i never thought it would happen. But this song alone is worth the price of purchase. Listen to the live version in Dolby digital surround... loud enough to piss off the neighbors, and with a good subwoofer. You'll see why it's worth the price, and why it should be a song that is MUCH more appreciated than it ever was. An underappreciated song, but a true Priest classic.
on May 18, 2016
Judas Priest represent the bridging point between the heavy doom rock of Black Sabbath et al and the myriad forms of extreme metal that came after the late 80s. They basically laid the bedrock for thrash
British Steel is a new found maturity and individualism in metal, as it severed the last remaining links to the blues that had informed earlier albums by fellow Black Country bands Sabbath and Led Zeppelin.
The twin guitar assault of Glen Tipton and KK Downing was promoted to the fore on tracks like Metal Gods – meaning this would be the first album which would break the New Wave of British Heavy Metal into the mainstream. But mainly it was Priest’s continued ability to pen stone cold classics like Breaking the Law, Grinder and Living After Midnight that saw them move into the 80s at the top of their game.
on March 7, 2010
By 1980, Judas Priest had been flying the heavy metal flag for almost a decade, but had not achieved any real mainstream success. This was the album which changed that forever. The track 'Metal Gods' could not have rung more true; that's precisely what JP became with this release.
It was the peak of the NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal). Saxon, Diamond Head, Def Leppard, Iron Maiden, Praying Mantis and co. were making valuable and creative contributions to the genre. Judas Priest, however, eclipsed them all with 'British Steel'. Priest were in a league of their own.
Unashamedly metal, the album boasted three huge hit singles in 'Breaking the Law', 'Living After Midnight' and 'United'. The other tracks are heavier without sacrificing any of Priest's trademark twin-guitar melodies.
Importantly, this was the piece of work which finally made a serious impact on America. After too long in stateside obscurity, Judas Priest were finally able to headline stadium shows in the US, where - deservedly - they became a household name.
This album, along with Black Sabbath's debut, Rainbow's 'Rising', Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction's 'Tattooed Beat Messiah' and Type O Negative's 'Bloody Kisses', defines heavy metal.
Buy it! Buy it! Buy it!