Released Feb. 10, 1978
In light of the terrible news about Glenn Tipton and his battle with Parkinson’s Disease, it would be remiss not to mention that on the same day Van Halen released their massive and historic debut, Judas Priest released their fourth album. It can be argued it is equally as great. Stained Class initially did not make a dent in the United States and unfortunately received horrible press 12 years later but is one of the finest heavy metal albums of all time. In my opinion, it comes very close to Hell Bent for Leather as Priest’s finest moment. The album marked the beginning of a way too short tenure of the terribly underrated Les Binks on drums and brought Rob Halford’s vocal range to peaks that have never been equaled. Tracks such as the opening “Exciter” show the true roots of thrash metal, while the brilliant opus “Beyond the Realms of Death,” remains a highlight of the band’s live set. “Stained Class” and “Invader” are heavy metal classics, while “Saints in Hell” literally makes the hair on your neck stand up. It is amazing. The middle bridge is so heavy and moving; it can be argued that the song is Priest’s best.
Stained Class is a showcase for a hungry British band on the rise. While dark in nature, it lays the groundwork for the true heavy metal scene that would soon thrive a few years later in the early to mid-eighties. It is a work of art that is completely different from “Living After Midnight” and “You Got Another Thing Comin” and don’t even mention Turbo in the same breath as Stained Class. Then again, that is the beauty of Judas Priest. While labeled as the stereotypical heavy metal band because of their hits, if you are a true fan and know the band’s full catalog, you will know Judas Priest is a diverse and complicated band that takes chances. Today is the perfect time to celebrate Stained Class. Godspeed, Mr. Tipton.
Written by Joe Becht. Follow him on Twitter @JoeBecht
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