Judas Priest's first album, Rocka Rolla, is a kind of "forgotten" album. Mainly because of two things; the fact that "Gull Records" owns the rights, and is not very friendly with Priest about it, and that it got a lot of negative reviews in the 80's and 90's when Priest got really popular. I agree with some of the meanings about the album, but after I listened to it myself for a while, I actually started to like it!
The album had some issues with production quality, and the band members were not quite happy with the final master of the album, so if you are looking for it, try to find one that is remastered.
Now, on to the album itself. It opens with One for the Road
, which sounds quite good. However, it's very simple (for example, the solo consists of a simple line that is played over and over again), and can be quite repeating in the end. But it's a great track, once you get into it. 3/5
It's followed by the title track, Rocka Rolla
, which is much better than the one before. The riff, chorus and solo is just much better. This is definately the pop-song or single from the album. 4/5
After "Rocka Rolla", a four-in-one suite takes over. It's a compilation of Winter
, Deep Freeze
, Winter Retreat
. I don't quite know what to say about it. I mean, it's so different from the "normal" Priest we hear, and experimental.
It starts of with Winter
, with a decent riff I seem to like more and more, and Rob singing with a quite disturbed and echoed voice about the terrible winter and how cold it is. 3/5
Then it moves into, Deep Freeze
, which really is just noises and scrambling on the guitar. This is a song they could just have skipped. It sounds like an attempt to give some freezing feelings and effects after listening to Winter, but it just doesn't work. They could just as well have played some of those effects in the background during "Winter". 1/5
After this booring session, Winter Retreat
starts. It's a ballad which is about the summer that finally comes after the horrible winter. And it actually feels that way too, after those horrible ... sounds on the previous track. Allthough, the ballad isn't exceptionally good. 2.5/5
It ends with Cheater
, a lot better, and definately the best of those four songs. This one is also more "pop" like "Rocka Rolla". "Cheater" also has, like parts of "Rocka Rolla", some harmonica lines played by Rob. Seems like this was in back in the '70s. 2.5/5
is the next song, and it's much better than the "Winter"-suite before. Maybe the strongest one on this album. It kicks off with a strong riff, another good riff just before the solo, and a cool solo (in the same manner as the other songs tend to have their solos). Great song. 4/5
Run of the Mill
. Now this is a treasure! This eight-minute epic, starts of quite slowly, with a nice accoustic intro, which continues into the verse, only interrupted by the great chorus riff. But, after a few verses, a mind-blowing solo / guitar jamming starts, that lasts for nearly half the song! It creates an atmosphere that I just can't explain. It sounds quite futuristic, much thanks to Hill's unusual great bass play. It ends with a great melody, with some minor synths, and, best of all, Rob's incredible voice. Blows your head off. Just a GREAT song! 5/5
After the great song over, it's time for Dying to Meet You
. It sounds like this one was actually two songs that they put together. The first part is a generic ballad, but with a weird intro and riff that makes it kinda special. Rob sings quite good here too, and proves that he manages to sing quite low tones. The other part of this song is much more different ... just another song, really. But it seems to carry on the lyrical meaning. It's much faster, and has a catchy sort of "riff". The chorus is maybe the funniest with it's cool guitar play and bass play. Cool song. 4/5
The album ends with a very short song, Caviar and Meths
. It fades in, with some accoustic work, and a melody on top. This lasts for a while, and then it fades out. Yay. But form what I read, this was actually a 8-minute song, but the producer cut it down. I just don't know why he would do that, because you can hear some potential there. Actually it's a quite chilling and relaxing song. But due to the lengt: 1.5/5.
Well, that's the songs. Priest fans, may not like them to begin with, since it sounds very different from other Priest material. It doesn't have those riff's we're used to, and it doesn't have those great Priest solo's. I guess this is because Glenn Tipton had just joined the band, and they basically played Downing and Atkins material. I guess the reason why Sad Wings sounds so different, is because of Glenn's influence. But aside from that, it isn't that
bad. Hill plays hiss bass more freely for example, and I'm sure any Priest fan can get off to at least "Never Satisfied", "Dying to Meet You" or "Cheater"!