I’m just going to come out and say it, Judas Priest’s Turbo was a damn good album. It was much maligned by the long-haired, leather-wearing metal dudes that pumped fists to songs like “Breaking The Law”, “The Green Manalishi(with the two-pronged crown)”, “Livin’ After Midnight”, and “Electric Eye”, but that’s their problem, man. Turbo wasn’t the sell out album that all the heshers driving in souped-up Cutlass Supremes and Chevy Novas said it was. In fact Priest was doing what they always did, which was following the muse wherever she(or he) took them. Sure, it was this slick, futuristic Judas Priest that was playing heavily with the newfangled sounds of the 80s, mainly synth-ing up things a bit. But really, if there ever was a futuristic, forward-thinking metal band pushing boundaries and taking names wasn’t that band Judas freakin’ Priest? Turbo was following two standout albums like Screaming For Vengeance and Defenders Of The Faith, and feels like the next step. 30 years on even more so.
Turbo for me holds a special place in my heart. It’s the first Priest album I truly fell for. With nothing more than a dubbed copy from one of my dad’s friends from work and the highway-stained video for “Turbo Lover” I was hooked. I remember climbing up on my mom and dad’s roof, Walkman in tow, and listening to “Parental Guidance” with visions of destroying the PMRC ala Terminator-style. “Up yours, Tipper Gore! C’mon Halford, we’ve got some butts to kick!” I had an active imagination, guys. There was just this upbeat drive throughout the album. I had just begun to play guitar, so I’d also taken an interest in Glen Tipton and K.K. Downing’s impressive guitar work. They’d seemed to have jumped the fence from blues-based fretwork into something more progressive. Lot’s of wholly impressive guitar lines. “Rock You All Around The World” is a speed demon locomotive of a track with some of that previously mentioned impressive guitar work. My 12-year old brain was getting a workout.
As far as sing-a-long stadium anthems, Turbo had you covered. Like the aforementioned “Rock You All Around The World”, you had “Turbo Lover”, “Private Property”, “Wild Nights, Hot & Crazy Days”, and of course “Parental Guidance” that were stadium and coliseum ready. Fists pumping and scantily clad girls in cut-off t-shirts hiked up on the shoulders of The Decline Of Western Civilization: The Metal Years rejects. These songs are classic Judas Priest, just in shiny new packaging. Then you’ve got tracks like “Hot For Love” and “Reckless” that bring back some of that 70s menace from albums like Rocka Rolla, Sad Wings Of Destiny, and Sin After Sin.
This is primo Judas Priest, folks. This is Priest for the Reagan years.
Someone else felt the same way as I did so Turbo has been reissued in a shiny new remastered form. There’s a deluxe version that includes a live show recorded at Kemper Arena in Kansas City back in May of 1986. It’s a quality live recording that hits up all their eras up to that point. It’s a solid window into just how powerful Judas Priest were as a live band. And as far as I can tell no overdubs on this one, guys.
So I don’t know what your opinions were of this album back in 1986(or if you even had any opinions), but I’m telling you to put the negative memories off to the side, put on your leather jacket(and chaps if that’s your thing), and give Turbo another spin. This one has aged well, like a fine wine.
Or a well-worn studded leather wrist band.
8.5 out of 10