Turbo review by Judas Priest

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  • Released: Apr 14, 1986
  • Sound: 7
  • Lyrics: 6
  • Overall Impression: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 6.7 Neat
  • Users' score: 7.3 (13 votes)
Judas Priest: Turbo
2

Sound — 7
When Judas Priest entered a studio in Bahamas in 1986 to record "Turbo", they found themselves in a situation where the brand of classic metal which they had pioneered was slowly giving way to a new, more pop-oriented wave of young metal bands; the likes of Bon Jovi, Ratt, Mtley Cre and others. Ever since the mid-70s, Priest had been on the cutting edge of heavy metal, and this album captures them desperately trying to remain there by gaining inspiration from the pop metal scene. They did not succeed, although they did manage to make "Turbo" quite an interesting listen anyway. The one thing that makes this album stand out from the rest of Priest's vast catalogue is the guitars: many of the guitar lines are actually synthesized. Iron Maiden also used some guitar synths in 1986, but they focused more on creating texture, while Priest built entire riffs and solos on them. Judas Priest have been criticized for this ever since the album's release, but I think they're pretty cool for the most part and serve to make Priest's discography even more diverse. The production as a whole, while sounding quite dated today, still sounds fantastic for 1986: Everything is crystal clear, the guitars are loud and proud, and the drums sound huge.

Lyrics — 6
Rob Halford had been struggling with various destructive addictions throughout most of the 80s, before finally entering rehab and sobering up (for life, as it would turn out) in 1985. And it seems that sobriety took him to new heights as a singer; for the rest of his career with Priest until his departure in 1993, he was the perfect heavy metal singer both live and in the studio. On "Turbo", his amazing abilities are especially notable on tracks such as "Locked In", "Out In The Cold" and "Reckless". Halford's lyrics, however, seemed to be growing dumber by the hour. Granted, the 80s were not exactly the decade where Dylan-esque poetry or Halford's own past themes of society, alienation and mythology was all the rage. But I would at least expect the man to rise above the average pop-metal lyricist; he does not, and as a result, the album contains nothing but cock rock and mind-numbing anthems. Several points off for that.

Overall Impression — 7
Overall, this is not one of my favorite Judas Priest albums. It's a bit thick on filler and some of the songs seem forced, or just intended as platforms for the guitarists to try out their new synth axes. Having said that, I still find great pleasure in listening to this album as it contains so many catchy hits. "Turbo Lover" is one of pop metal's greatest moments, the way it builds up until the climactic chorus is just so astoundingly clever. "Out In The Cold" is a bleaker song, another great composition which features a brooding intro and an impressive vocal performance. "Parental Guidance" is a guilty pleasure, and "Reckless" is the definition of heavy metal from this particular era, with jaw-dropping solos from Glenn Tipton. Oh yeah, I almost forgot: Glenn and K.K. Downing are also in top form. Just check out "Hot For Love", featuring one of Mr. Downing's finest solos of all time. "Turbo", while far from perfect and failing to become a massive commercial success, is still being unfairly dismissed to this day. I think that everyone with even a casual interest in Priest pre-"Painkiller" should give it a chance. Even if you don't like it, it's still a controversial album that is often mentioned in discussions about Priest, dividing fans of the band between the camp that considers it a guilty pleasure and those who see it as an embodiment of all the horrors of late 80s metal. I will leave you with one last piece of advice: Most of this album is was played on the "Fuel For Life"-tour of '86, and can be found on "Priest... Live!". All of the songs that seem kind of stiff on this album really come to life on that one, check it out as well!

11 comments sorted by best / new / date

    codyjt5150
    Best priest album? Defender's of the Faith, there is some bad@$$ stuff throughout the entire album, I even find it better than Screaming for Vengeance.
    rockerwannabe
    Excluding Out in the Cold, this album is rather humorous. It came out when I was a young teen and I loved it back then. Listening to it now, however, makes me cringe in embarrassment. Why were these guys singing about parental guidance at their ages back then? Seems so silly to me now. Fair review though. Kudos!
    Way Cool JR.
    "Parental Guidance" is to the PMRC and parents that were trying to control what music kids can listen to. It's a great song with great meaning.   
    Diamond Dave
    a-we don't neeeed nooo, no, no, noooo pareeental guidance, yeah! clearly not their best work but for me its still a lot more fun than Point of Entry which for me is probably my least favourite. nice review though, pretty much sums it up exactly. Not the greatest, but as long as you don't take it too seriously its a lot of fun to listen to
    K33nbl4d3
    I love every album between Rocka Rolla and Painkiller... While a lot of songs fall flat because of the bloody synths, tracks like Turbo Lover and Locked In (a favourite of mine) have absolutely brilliant riffs...
    thebigredjj10
    rockerwannabe wrote: Excluding Out in the Cold, this album is rather humorous. It came out when I was a young teen and I loved it back then. Listening to it now, however, makes me cringe in embarrassment. Why were these guys singing about parental guidance at their ages back then? Seems so silly to me now. Fair review though. Kudos!
    On the parental guidance, it was a response to Tipper Gores PMRC in the 80s that really went overboard trying to censor everything. But other than that, yeah the lyrics are a little cringe worthy.
    Chronologo
    One of the worst Priest albums ever. It has some catchy tunes but it's failure is in that US glam metal approach, but Judas Priest is a band that's not afraid to try new things. For me Defenders of the Faith is their best album along with Sad wings of Destiny, Stained Class, Painkiller, Ram it Down, Screaming for Vengeance.
    Way Cool JR.
    Chronologo wrote: One of the worst Priest albums ever. It has some catchy tunes but it's failure is in that US glam metal approach, but Judas Priest is a band that's not afraid to try new things. For me Defenders of the Faith is their best album along with Sad wings of Destiny, Stained Class, Painkiller, Ram it Down, Screaming for Vengeance.
    Funny thing is it sounds nothing like Glam Metal at all period. Ram It Down is by far their best album and Turbo is far from the worst, IMO it's one of the best. But we all have our own opinions.
    torgrimjacobsen
    I love it. Classic album from 1986. I guess you had to be there. It was just a fun time to be young. Lots of great albums released in 86. The Ultimate Sin, Eat em and smile, Slippery when wet, The final countdown, Somewhere in time, 5150 and Turbo. I absolutely love every song on this album. 10/10.
    Way Cool JR.
    Nice review man Ironically this is my 2nd favorite album from JP "Ram It Down" being my #1 album by them (that album is insanely great). I bought this album when it was first released on cassette (still have it )and I just bought the Remasters version of it (& Ram It Down)earlier this year. I am still in love with this album and rock out to it very often. The Remasters version of this album is spectacular in sound quality. Jon Astley did a great job on remastering, he added so much more clarity and punch to the sound and kept it from sounding digital it's simply a feast for my ears.
    PatVanHalen5150
    The 4 album run of Defenders of the Faith, Turbo, Ram It Down & Painkiller are the 4 Priest albums I find myself listening to the most. That's just some great music.