“When we made Turbo, we kinda shook the cage a little bit”
– Rob Halford
‘Shook the cage’ is definitely an understatement, considering the fact that ‘Turbo’ was a glam album put out by a band that was at the pinnacle of heavy metal super stardom. Every metal head from Tuscany to Tokyo was asphyxiated by the vice-like commercial grip of Judas Priests’ then new album that came out right after ‘Defenders of the Faith’, an album that serves as the blueprint of ‘80s metal to this day. ‘Turbo’ was unanimously hated by all and Judas Priest was relegated to pop-metal money mongers from being one of the flag bearers of ‘80s British heavy metal (along with Iron Maiden).
On the 16th of December 2016, Judas Priest announced that they will reissue their highly controversial 10th studio album “Turbo” via Sony Music on the 3rd of February 2017, a release that will consist of 3 CDs.
In retrospect I do not have a major issue with ‘Turbo’ per se. I understand a band’s tendencies to go beyond their comfort zone and explore uncharted territory and the band in question did it with panache. Right from the opening synth sounds of “Turbo Lover” to the anthemic palm muted chugs of “Reckless”, the album is a good listen. The aforementioned tracks along with “Private Property” are my favorite tracks of the album. Ridden with sexual overtones, “Turbo Lover” starts with a synth intro and has a very sleazy albeit eerie feel to it. “Private Property” on the other hand leans towards glam and is more cheerful. There are certain instances of classic heavy metal in the album, particularly on the tracks “Reckless” and “Rock You All Around The World”, but for all practical purposes, “Turbo” is Priests’ attempt to go glam and reflects the decadence of the times
Disc 2 and Disc 3 of the release consists of tracks from the Kansas edition of their “Fuel For Life” tour, tracks that includes classics like “Breaking The Law”, “Metal Gods”, “Electric Eye” and “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming”. In all fairness, the band could have included more material of their earlier albums like “Dissident Aggressor”, “Savage”, “Sinner” or “Exciter”, but I guess the rhetoric at that time gravitated more towards their albums from the 80s. The release could have included liner notes from each band member especially former drummer Dave Holland about how “Turbo “ was conceived and what got them to risk making an album that would be berated by the heavy metal community (only to achieve cult status later on).
It would also have been interesting to find out current drummer Scott Travis’ and current guitarist Richie Faulkner’s thoughts on the album and whether they eventually developed an appreciation for it. Nevertheless, I applaud the band’s decision to re-release their much aligned album and giving it the necessary importance that it deserves.