Judas Priest – British Steel: #898 of best 1,000 albums ever!

Judas Priest - British Steel

Why is Judas Priest’s British Steel on my best 1,000 albums ever list?

Not including it would be akin to, say… breaking the law, for example?

Some stats & info about Judas Priest – British Steel

  • What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Heavy Metal, Metal, British Bands, Hard Rock, Speed Metal, Rock Music, Rock
  • Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
  • All Music’s rating5 out of 5 stars
  • When was British Steel released? 1980
  • My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #898 out of 1,000

Judas Priest’s British Steel on Spotify

What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?

Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.

But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective take on what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.

What does Judas Priest’s British Steel mean to me? What does it make me feel? Why is it exciting or compelling?

It’s far too simplistic to call British Steel the “Breaking the Law album,” but at least in the U.S. it’s the song that is most closely tied to the band. And a powerhouse of catchy, riff-heavy heavy metal and rebellion it is.

The video is absolutely worth checking out, by the way, as it shows off both the band’s sense of fun and playfulness while also emphasizing the metaphorical breaking of the law that they espouse, as it were.

Dealings with and feelings about the law, metaphorical and otherwise, were certainly front and center in the United Kingdom during that era, at least with the younger generation attracted to the raw, anti-authority sounds of punk and metal. Another classic of the era by The Clash comes to mind, of course: “I Fought the Law.”

“Living After Midnight” is heavy metal as party song and arena rocker, something that Judas Priest hadn’t done much of in the past. But the mix is just right here. What’s really cool is the opening almost sounds like The Knack’s “My Sharona,” after which muscular guitar riffs kick off. And the chorus is one that would light up stadiums and frat house afterparties forevermore.

Other parts of the album show off the band’s legitimate experimentations in what would become known as speed metal. “Steeler” is a good example. The tempo starts breakneck and never lets up.

I must admit that when I think about “Breaking the Law” it’s not long – like so very many things – for the Beavis and Butt-Head version to pop into my head.

Oh, now that I’ve gone into Admitting Things mode, there’s kind of an odd legacy, amongst other non-odd legacies no doubt, that the band has in various comedy TV shows and movies over the years where, when a character is shocked or deeply surprised and the appropriate but trite “Jesus Christ!” would be expected, they Change Things Up with a good old, “Judas Priest!” I want to say the more Minnesota and/or mid-western the accent for such a character, the greater the comedic impact.

And finally, as a bonus, here’s the mom from That ‘70s Show enjoying a little “spiritual music” in the form a band called Judas Priest.