Review Summary: You've got low points, real low points, and then you've got Turbo.
After 1984’s Defenders of the Faith
and Priest’s continued popularity, the band initially recorded a double album called Twin Turbos
. That album, however, was never released. Instead, the more commercial half of the material was taken and made into Priest’s 1986 album, Turbo
. At the time, glam metal dominated the music scene, and this heavily influenced the sound of the album. Wanting to go along with the current trend, Turbo was the first album by Priest to make use of guitar synthesizers. Its sound was also more commercial than ever, a reason why the album will strongly remind of arena rock/metal. Although the tour was successful and Priest gained new fans, their 9th studio album was condemned by many, fans and critics alike, as a huge sell-out.
Turbo’s Judas Priest was:
- Robert John Arthur Halford ~ Vocals
- Kenneth Downing Jr. ~ Lead Guitar
- Glenn Raymond Tipton ~ Lead Guitar
- Ian Frank Hill ~ Bass Guitar
- David Holland ~ Drums
- Jeff Martin (Racer X) ~ Backing Vocals on Wild Nights, Hot & Crazy Days
A sell-out, must be unluckily concluded, is what Turbo was indeed. There is so much particularly wrong with the album I don’t know where to start. The synths are way overdone, which has the effect of ruining the guitar sound, instead of adding extra flavour. What Iron Maiden
pulled off excellently in the same year with Somewhere in Time
, Judas Priest messed up utterly. The production isn’t any good either. The overall sound is way too polished, sounding very poppy, and Halford’s vocals are too distant. Turbo’s worst flaw, however, is the over-commercialism. The band went so far in this that they have trouble sounding like themselves. Think Point of Entry
, but then far worse. All songs are built up by the very simple verse-chorus-verse-chorus structure, having an average solo in between. This structure could work, of course, as it has done for Priest before, but many of the lyrics and choruses (e.g. Locked In
, Rock You All Around the World
) are so awful and generic it is almost unbearable to listen to them. By just taking a look at the song titles, you know this is a Priest album that you are impossible to take seriously (Hot for Love
, anyone?), never mind enjoy.
As for the songs themselves, they mostly sound the same. Opener Turbo Lover
is one of the song that comes close to enjoyable, having well-done synth work, but then again has also average lyrics and is repetitive. Out in the Cold
stands out most, aspiring to be an epic, but not quite able to do so. A relaxed listen, apart from an again commercial approach. Wild Nights, Hot & Crazy Days
sounds very much like an AC/DC
rip-off, especially in the way the chorus is presented (including the trademark backing vocals), and Halford sounds half like Brian Johnson at times. Locked In has the potentially most interesting instrumental work, but that is unfortunately ruined by the overdone synths. And if you had high hopes for a nice closer, forget it. Reckless is
the song we’ve heard 8 times before on the album, and does no effort on closing off things on a high note.
Redeeming factors are not easy to find, but there are a few. Firstly, the intros are actually quite nicely done, but then again, are more a false hope for a great song than anything else. Secondly, the material found on Turbo will do great live. The versions found of Priest…Live!
of these songs sound better than their studio counterparts. As for the album itself though, this is not really an advantage.
Judas Priest’s dive into glam metal and arena rock just turns out to be the worst misstep of their career. Making the most generic, boring, and commercial album in their now 40 years of existence, Turbo is just about as bad as it gets. Except for the most fanatic of fan boys and collectionists, nobody will really like to acquire this. An awful album truly, that should be avoided at all costs.
+ The intros are quite well carried out, but that’s really about it
- Synths are way overdone
- Bad production
- Overly commercial
- Very poor lyrics and choruses
- All songs sound the same
Recommended tracks (for the sake of tradition):
Out in the Cold