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Johnny B. Goode December 1987 S/A/W May 1988

1988

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RAM IT DOWN

     "Pick it up... Put it on... 'Ram It Down.'
- Advertisement, 1988

     "Ram It Down has a great theme throughout it: heavy metal, a thousand cars and a million guitars. Guitars are cranking. When you span a band's career, there are little peaks here and there, things that just click. That's what Ram It Down has done - it's clicked. It's got all the positive trademarks..."
 - Glenn Tipton, GUITAR magazine, 1988

     "Ram It Down has light and shade, drama, excitement, and even a little sex in 'Love You To Death'..."
- Rob Halford, Tele 5 Hard 'N' Heavy, June 1988

BAND MEMBERS:


Judas Priest L-R:
K.K. Downing: Lead Guitars
Rob Halford: Lead Vocals
Dave Holland: Drums
Glen Tipton: Lead Guitars
Ian Hill: Bass Guitar

Management: Bill and Jackie Curbishley, Trinifold Limited
Artist Co-ordination: Jayne Andrews, Trinifold Limited (UK & Europe); Anne Weldon, Left Field Services (US)

ALBUM:

Ram It Down Heavy Metal Love Zone Come And Get It Hard As Iron
Blood Red Skies I'm A Rocker Johnny B. Goode
Love You To Death Monsters of Rock

RE-MASTERS Series Bonus tracks:
Night Comes Down (Live) Locked In (Live)

  • Released May 17, 1988 by CBS Records Inc. (UK Cat.# 461108), Columbia Records (US Cat. # CK 44244) and
    Epic/Sony Music Group (JPN Cat. # 25.3P-5024)

  • THE RE-MASTERS UK/European CD released February 21, 2002 by Sony Music/Columbia Records (UK Cat. # 502137)
  • THE RE-MASTERS North American CD released March 19, 2002 by Sony Music/Legacy Records (US Cat. # CK 86381)

Recorded and mixed Winter 1987/1988 at PUK Studios, Denmark
Produced by Tom "Colonel" Allom
Co-Produced by Glenn Tipton, Robert Halford and K.K. Downing
Engineered by Henrik Nilsson
Assistant Engineers:
Equipment Supervision: Tom Calcaterra
Some additional material recorded by Bill Dooley
Mastered at The Townhouse, London, England

Certification: RIAA Gold July 18, 1988
Chart position:
UK #24; Billboard 200 #31
Johnny B. Goode: UK singles #64

SINGLES:

  • Johnny B. Goode/Rock You All Around The World (Live) released in May 1988 by Atlantic Records
    (UK Cat. # A9114-789114-7 and US Cat. # 7-89114)

  • Ram It Down/Heavy Metal released by CBS Records Inc. (Holland Cat. # 651589 7)
  • Blood Red Skies (edit) released in 1988 by Columbia Records (CSK 1249 promo only)
  • I'm A Rocker released in 1988 by Columbia Records (US Cat. # CSK 1149 promo only)
"Johnny Be Good" released on the JOHNNY BE GOOD soundtrack in February 1988 by Atlantic Records (US Cat.# 81837)

ARTWORK:

Artwork by Mark Wilkinson
Photography: Tony Mottram, Ross Halfin, Robert Ellis, Nigel Skeet, N. Preston, Ray Palmer, P.G. Brunel

     


 Mark Wilkinson 2000

Freelance illustrator Mark Wilkinson was called upon to provide the next album design, which featured a more complex, award-winning and decisively heavy metal airbrush design. Mark also updated the band's logo, giving it a molten metal look that fit well with the sleeve graphics.

A couple of other Judas Priest "Heavy Metal" logos were worn by Rob during the tour:

   
Tour vest JP logo                                          T-shirt Harley-style logo

 

PROMO VIDEOS:

  • Johnny B. Goode - Directed by Wayne Isham

     "The leaping metal Dutch gonzoids! We went to Amsterdam to make that; we had a ball."
-
Rob Halford, Sky Network, April 1988

Filmed in a club in Amsterdam, Holland. Another version made for Atlantic Records uses the same footage, but adds scenes from the 'Johnny Be Good' movie to promote the film and soundtrack.

This video is currently available on the ELECTRIC EYE DVD 2003 Sony Music Entertainment/Columbia Music Video (UK Cat. # 2021939, US Cat. # CVD 51411)

Rob also revealed to Sky Network in April 1988 that they had plans to make a second promo video at the end of the month in Spain, but he didn't say which song it was for and the video never did surface:

     "We hadn't picked any particular track - we were just thinking of doing another video but it never came about."
- Jayne Andrews, Management Co-ordinator for Judas Priest, October 2003

PUBLICATIONS:

  • Best of Judas Priest: 1988. Published by Columbia Pictures Publications Inc.
  • Metal Cuts, Recorded Versions: 1989. Published by Hal Leonard Publishing Corporation. HL00693186
    15 of their best, including: Call For The Priest • Hell Bent For Leather • Living After Midnight • Metal Gods.
  • Ram It Down, Recorded Versions: 1989. Published by Hal Leonard Publishing Corporation. HL00693187

OCTOBER 1987: JOHNNY B. GOODE

In 1987, Judas Priest were taking a well-deserved break while their label released a live album and video, but in October, as a favor to manager Bill Curbishley, the band entered Denmark's PUK Studios to record a cover of Chuck Berry's '50s rock standard "Johnny B. Goode" for a film soundtrack...

     "The way the 'Johnny B. Goode' thing came about is, our manager Bill Curbishley has contacts in the movie business and somebody had told him that this film is being made, and through all different channels, we decided to have a go and do it ourselves. The film is called Johnny Be Good - it's about this high school graduate who's a football fanatic, and he's called Johnny, and he's just working his way through high school, going into college, and it just covers his exploits as to choosing which college to go to. It's a really bad film! But we were given the opportunity to do the song. It's a bit like when Priest has done all this stuff in the past. A lot of the Joan Baez songs, and also Spooky Tooth stuff, the 'Green Manalishi' song... and we just felt that we could give it the Priest treatment, and when we worked it out in the studio, we felt it was good enough to eventually end up on the album. So we're well pleased with it."
-
Rob Halford, Sky Network, April 1988

     "At that point, we didn't think it would go onto Ram It Down, but as the album came together, we could see there was a part in the album for it...and we were happy because I feel the roots of heavy metal come from American blues and rock 'n' roll. In that respect, it's a little bit of a tribute to put 'Johnny B. Goode' on a heavy metal album." 
- Rob Halford, Tele 5 Hard 'N' Heavy, June 1988

Though not originally slated for the next studio release, the song went on to become the only single from Ram It Down! And Jon Astley (who would go on to produced the Re-Masters and master the Demolition album in 2001) also appears on the Johnny Be Good soundtrack with his tune "Been There, Done That".

The single and an accompanying promo video for "Johnny B. Goode" were released in the States. Though a highly energetic and catchy remake of a guitar-oriented song (and Priest knew a thing or two about guitar-oriented songs!), the band was criticized because they were British and "Johnny B. Goode" was an American classic as well as another departure from the traditional metal the fans were craving from the gods of metal. It had also been four years since Priest had toured their own British homeland again and it seemed they were selling out to the greener pastures of America. With Turbo and Priest...Live! losing fan support, this was not a good move from the fans' perspective, but Priest had a missed opportunity once before when it came to film soundtracks, so this time they were determined to not make that mistake again...
 

     "We had a go at it really, for better or worse. Needless to say, it wasn't a Top Gun. Nothing seems to popularize this band to any great extent. Whether it's court cases, the PMRC, bum decisions with movies, we always seem to be swimming upstream. Which is probably not a bad thing - it keeps us hungry."
- K.K. Downing, Goldmine magazine June 5, 1998


 

DECEMBER 1987: Sessions begin

     "We usually formulate our ideas prior to getting together. Then there's got to be a time period when me Rob and Ken get together and kick things around and change things. Two or three joint riffs will amalgamate and become a song. I think what you'll find is most Priest albums are in the same category as Ram It Down, Screaming for Vengeance and Defenders of the Faith. Turbo was a little different, so it makes people think that we've come back. In fact, Turbo was the one that was inspired. These albums I mentioned are more or less the same feel. We are very pleased with it. We feel it's a very powerful statement. We didn't write Ram It Down with anything in mind other than how we did with any other album. We just got in the studio and wrote the songs. It formed it's own direction."
- Glenn Tipton, GUITAR magazine, 1988

     "When it came to write this album, we were in a great position, because having done so many different types of heavy metal albums in the past, and explored all potentials, and stretched it, and gone to the limits - myself, Ken and Glenn sat down and thought, 'What would we really want to do now, this being the 13th album in our career?' We thought, 'Let's make a no-holds-barred, don't pull any punches...let's make a real out-and-out Priest heavy metal album!"
-
Rob Halford, Sky Network, April 1988

     "We started working on the new album and we thought, 'It's been a while since we did a screaming heavy metal racket. And what about the solid, plodding number?' "
- Rob Halford, Metal Hammer, 1988

     "When we sit down to write together, as myself and Ken and Glenn did for Ram It Down, we said, 'Well this album, what shall we do?' And we decided to make a real hard-core heavy metal album. Once you have a direction, it's a lot easier. In the past, with some of our records we just wrote many, many, many different songs and we just take 10 songs, or 9 songs and put them on a record, so some songs you never hear. Judas Priest has written thousands of songs that we've got in vaults in studios all around the world."
- Rob Halford, Tele 5 Hard 'N' Heavy, June 1988


The songwriters at PUK Studios

 With the "Johnny B. Goode" soundtrack recording finished and plans in place for a heavy metal return to form, Judas Priest and producer Tom Allom gathered in Denmark's PUK Studios ("Ice Station Zebra" as it came to be known!) during the severe Scandinavian winter of 1987 and put their ideas together on tape, including songs they had recorded during the TURBO sessions:

     "We spent the last four months in the fields of Denmark making the Ram It Down album."
- Rob Halford, Sky Network, April 1988

    "Our studio was in Denmark in the winter time; we were iced and snowed in! At one point everyone was suffering from hypothermia!"
- Ian Hill, Classic Rock Revisited, July 19, 2000

     "We've used Tom Allom since the last live album (Unleashed In The East, 1979), and we've already recorded, I think, nearly eight tracks for the next studio album."
- Glenn Tipton, Atlantis Online, May 7, 1986

But things got confusing once the recordings were submitted to CBS Records executives, who began sorting through the tracks. Several holdovers from the previous TURBO session ("Monsters of Rock", "Love You to Death", "Hard As Iron", "Red, White & Blue" and "Ram It Down") were reworked and presented along with new material. The label would make the final decision on what was going to be released, and both Halford and Tipton mentioned during interviews that they have no idea what was going to make the final cut. Glenn questioned the inclusion of "Love You To Death", while assuming "Red, White & Blue" was a shoe-in, yet the exact opposite took place; Rob told Metal Hammer about an epic titled "My Design" that's "like a ride into the depths of hell", yet it never appeared; and two new songs were held back - the atmospheric power ballad "Fire Burns Below" and the octane-charged "Thunder Road", which bore a similar arrangement to parts of "Johnny B. Goode", due to the fact that the riff was written for the new song before the film opportunity became known. But only one line from "Thunder Road" survived in the bridge to "I'm A Rocker", as the label opted for the Chuck Berry cover instead, due to its potential to become a single.

 "The arrangement was a few little bits and pieces we were thinking of writing another song ['Thunder Road'] with. They found themselves in 'Johnny B. Goode'. "
- Glenn Tipton, GUITAR Magazine, 1989

" 'Johnny B. Goode' is on the album. You don't know what's going on with this band from one minute to the next, including yours truly!"
- Rob Halford, Sky Network, April 1988

S/A/W
 

     "Pop music should be clear, simple and accessible. I'm not interested in anything else, though that doesn't mean that we won't work with other types of groups. Judas Priest have just been on the phone, and we're planning to produce them next year. We're writing three or four songs for their album...It doesn't matter who it is, as long as we have a strong degree of control over the sound. Whitesnake have recently been doing well with a clean heavy metal sound - Judas Priest want the same."
- Matt Aitken, Record Mirror,
December 19, 1987

Some free time came available late in '87 after the album had been recorded and was awaiting the mixing stages, so Bill Curbishley asked the band for another favor: Bill was close friends with hit producer Pete Waterman, who was one-third of a powerhouse production team well known for their UK pop hits with Bananarama, Rick Astley, Kylie, and the like. Together, Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman were known as S/A/W, and Waterman also had his own label: PWL Records (Pete Waterman Ltd.), for which he had hired on Managing Director David Howells, who was previously the head of Gull Records when Priest recorded their ROCKA ROLLA and SAD WINGS OF DESTINY albums. Howells also retained the rights to license his former recordings through Gull Entertainments, which now shared the same building as S/A/W and PWL Records.

So, it appears that Bill Curbishley wanted to see what a hit-maker team like S/A/W could do with Priest, and it was an opportunity for the band to have some fun and to stretch musically. Though talk of making Judas Priest a pop success was mentioned, the songs were not intended for anything more than possible future film soundtrack material...

     "Stock, Aitken and Waterman are very popular producers in England, producing quite a lot of hit songs by people like Rick Astley and Bananarama. We did a little work with them for experimental reasons. It was great to work with them because they are very professional and very good producers. Everybody is very naive and think that just because they produce these pop hit artists that's all they can do. In actual fact, they can do a lot more that than. We had a bit of spare time and cash and we got together and had many long hours of table tennis. And we did a couple of songs. We [also] did 'Johnny B Goode'. We were asked to possibly do 'Reckless' for the original Top Gun, which we missed out on because we didn't want to take anything off the Turbo album. We thought this would be a good opportunity to go in and do some stuff for future movies. It was purely experimental and fun."
- K.K. Downing, GUITAR Magazine, January, 1989

     "We must get the record straight. Yes, we did work with Stock, Aitken and Waterman, and we can't lie -  they're not great table tennis players! Good friends of ours, they're old friends of ours... We went in, we did four days in Paris, we got four days in between Christmas and going back into the studio. It was a mutual thing, an experiment to just see what would come of it. We weren't chasing hit singles; we'd actually finished our album anyway and we had only got mixes left to do.
     "I think what a lot of people don't realize about them is there's far more to them than 'hit' producers - I mean, Mike Stock's a great guitar player and we work really well together. The tracks we came up with were very interesting. I don't suppose they'll ever be on a Judas Priest album, but we've been approached a lot recently to do film soundtracks and things, so maybe they'll be used for that - who knows? But were really pleased with them - we've never been scared to experiment, so..."
- Glenn Tipton, Super Channel 88, 1988

     "What I think people thought you know, it was bizarre because we were surprised at the sudden, almost like a backlash - people thought it was going to be like 'JUDAS BANANARAMA PRIEST' or something, God forbid we should ever do that - we wouldn't compromise the band in anything of that nature. But as it's turned out, we've got a fantastic heavy ballad and we've got two real good rock tracks; but we've got too much material for RAM IT DOWN..."
- Glenn Tipton, Super Channel 88, 1988

     "See, what it was, it was more an experiment more than anything else; we never had anything definitely planned. Again, under the guise of what Priest is about with our music, we try so many different things - we're not scared to take chances and to stretch the limits and see what we can do, so we went down to Paris at the start of this year and spent about four days with the [S/A/W] guys in the studio there and put together three songs, which turned out certainly no where near as heavy as the stuff on Ram It Down, for example."
-
Rob Halford, Sky Network, April 1988


Matt Aitken         Mike Stock       Peter Waterman

At the start of 1988, Judas Priest and the S/A/W production team spent four days in a studio in Paris, France and recorded three tracks, two of which were written by S/A/W ("Runaround" and "I Will Return") and another, which was a cover tune:

     "We did 'You Are Everything' by the Stylistics. I don't know whether it will ever be released. I can tell you I'm pretty sure it will never be on a Judas Priest album."
- Glenn Tipton, GUITAR magazine, January, 1989

     "They want us to do a whole album with them. They're saving the three tracks we've already done with them for it. They want to do a pop album, It'll certainly be different for us."
- Pete Waterman,
Smash Hits, 1988

     "...There was some talk about making us a massive pop success, but we were smart enough to know that any contact with those guys would bury the band..."
- K.K. Downing, Goldmine magazine June 5, 1998

When word got out that Priest were recording with a big "pop-hit" production team, it was assumed this was for their next album, and the metal press went to town on Priest for even considering such an experiment. Fans were outraged at the thought - indeed, it seemed that being associated with the SAW team almost did bury the band! Waterman also claims that Glenn and K.K. didn't really want to play guitars on the project and the story goes that the band members all fell over laughing when they heard the final mixes - it was just too mainstream.

According to a Sony Music executive in Sweden in early 1988, Sony Music actually asked that the S/A/W songs be removed from the session.

     "There's a great ballad on there ('I Will Return') which possibly might, in the future, be used at some point. But the other stuff was a bit too light, so whether they'll surface at any given time, I really don't know...but you can rest assured that there's none of that stuff on the new record!"
-
Rob Halford, Sky Network, April 1988

     "The S/A/W recordings didn't fit in on the record. They're really good and they will be released some day in the future."
- Rob Halford, May, 1988

     "We split up the studio jobs - they respected us as songwriters and it was an interesting idea. Unfortunately, I think, those songs have nothing to do with Ram It Down. I don't know if we are going to have a S/A/W offering by year's end. Another thing we realized is that the stuff made with S/A/W could be a smash hit on the radio, but I think the peoples' response would be that we only made this to make hit singles. But we got a lot more things to do than thinking about a few hit singles in the charts. That could make an irreversible damage to the band; we've got to sort our priorities out."
- Rob Halford, Metal Hammer, 1988

     "...They're mixed and they're hidden away in a vault in our office in London, and some day, at some point, people will hear them - it's just getting the timing right. We didn't put them on Ram It Down because we had all the material already written anyway, so there wasn't any real need to include them, but I think a lot of people were worried you know. They think, 'Oh god, Judas Priest is going to sound like Rick Astley or Bananarama!' and we go, 'No! No! No! It's not going to be like that!' We would never jeopardize our career. We know what Judas Priest means to ourselves and we know what Judas Priest means to the fans around the world, so we'd never compromise ourselves - we'd never do anything less than what people expect from us. So they're three very powerful songs you know, so maybe you'll hear them in 1990 or the year 2000, I don't know. We would like people to hear them, because I think people are very curious about what's happening and we had a fantastic time with them..."
- Rob Halford, Tele 5 Hard 'N' Heavy, June 1988

MAY 1988: RAM IT DOWN Released
 

     "The 'play-it-safe' return to our heavy metal roots is familiar ground, but you learn from what your fans want. But it doesn't mean you should let yourself be dictated to. I think that we're here to explore what we can as musicians and do things that we feel are right, but you must remember that Judas Priest has been together over 17 years now. And considering that we are still as big as we are, then sometimes it goes up a little bit and sometimes it goes down a little bit - as long as it doesn't go all the way down there, then we're happy."
- Rob Halford, Tele 5 Hard 'N' Heavy, June 1988

Final album mastering and pressing took place in April and after a couple of miscalculated release dates, on May 17 CBS Records released RAM IT DOWN to the stores. The album contained some of the band's most brilliant dual guitar gymnastics and Rob's vocals soared to even greater heights. The media declared it Priest's heaviest album to date and many fans had renewed hopes, but not as many found it delivered the goods... For all the push to go in a harder metal direction, audio-wise the album had managed to retain too much of the TURBO "sheen". Though the synth guitars were mostly abandoned, electronic drums were not, even to the point of including the use of a drum machine:
 

     "I can't remember how much of Dave Holland's performance on RAM IT DOWN was done on a drum machine, but I do remember that we weren't happy with the snare sound and back in those days you couldn't just add a sample. It wasn't that easy."
- Glenn Tipton, Metal Maniacs, May 2005

Even without the synths, the guitars had an over-processed and compressed tone. Though the guys stuck with their trusty Marshall amplifiers, they do confess there was more to the picture:
 

     "We're still using the Marshalls in the sound, but we've added a few secret things on this album. It's a combination of sounds, some direct, some ambient. It's getting the right balance and combination of sound.
     "I'm not into too many effects in terms of guitars. I used a lot of synth guitar on TURBO. There is synth guitar on this, but it's used subtly. I'm very much into studio equipment, drum sounds and drums, the technological side of everything. At home I have a lot of equipment that I use to write - sequencers, computer link stuff. I have an Akai 12-track that I've linked up to MIDI stuff and synth stuff that makes it 24-track. I'm very much into that side of it. On a guitar level, I'm a little old-fashioned in still liking a guitar to sound like a guitar. That may sound contradictory to the work I did on TURBO. But TURBO was a different thing. It was a step in that direction, purely for that singular point in time. In general, I like a guitar to sing and sound good - like a guitar."

- Glenn Tipton, Guitar For The Practicing Musician, January 1989

     "We did a whole bunch of experimenting, getting amps done up left, right and center. We tried different guitars. The whole effects thing is becoming a lot more complicated these days. We experimented with digital effects. We've never been ones to say, 'Okay, we're Judas Priest; let's plug into Marshalls and go.' We've always been ones to receive technology any where, at any price, any time, and to try different things out."
- K.K. Downing, Guitar For The Practicing Musician, January 1989

     "We experimented a lot in those days with synths and stuff, though we weren't trying to cheat anybody. We experimented a lot in an effort to push the boundaries."
- Glenn Tipton, Metal Maniacs, May 2005

Processed tone aside, the album did boast some brilliant moments, such as the epic "Blood Red Skies", the pounding "Hard As Iron" and the heroic dual-guitar infused title track. The songs were once again heavier and faster, but the drums and sterile production sabotaged the potential for the album to meet it's full-throttle goal. While the album charted respectably, it soon lost ground, as fans began following the new trend of thrash...
 

     "...Thrash and heavy metal are worlds apart. I'm not a big fan of thrash metal, but in no way am I criticizing it. To me, thrash metal was invented for groups to start on. When you first pick up a guitar, you go out there and you can play thrash metal. That's a great thing. But it seems to me that thrash metal bands suddenly develop the need to become more sophisticated, and at that point, they stop being thrash metal and become, I suppose, a little more mature in their playing. There are a lot of heavy metal bands around today, but unfortunately, to me, a lot of them tend to sound the same, a replica of a California band or a replica of Scorpions. It's very important that a band has its own character."
- Glenn Tipton, Guitar For The Practicing Musician, January 1989

With RAM IT DOWN, it seemed the band spent too much time telling everyone how "metal" they were, while missing the curve. It was signature Priest at their best and experimental Priest at their lowest. It was DEFENDERS OF THE FAITH meets TURBO, and the whole seemed something less than the parts. The lyrics, which were once poetic commentary on the metal community, had become quite juvenile. Even anthemic lyrics praising the genre in the song "Heavy Metal" now seemed cartoonish and songs like "I'm A Rocker" and "Love Zone" were rather gratuitous. Ian Hill's bass was buried in the mix and Dave Holland had to rely on a drum machine at times to keep up with the faster pace of the music. To the fans, Priest were just plain getting too old and losing touch with the evolving scene instead of writing its next chapters.

LYRICS AND LEAD BREAKS:

Ram It Down Heavy Metal Love Zone Come And Get It Hard As Iron Blood Red Skies I'm A Rocker
Johnny B. Goode Love You To Death Monsters of Rock

1. Ram It Down
G. Tipton/R. Halford/K.K. Downing
Lead: Split into 7 parts - KK/Glenn/ KK/Glenn (up to harmonies)/KK (harmonies)/Glenn (after harmonies up to and through stop)/Glenn & KK harmonizing together (final section up to vocal entry)
Performed live in: 1988
Available live versions:
Veterans Memorial Coliseum, New Haven, Connecticut (broadcast bootleg, 1988)

     " 'Ram It Down' is a harder song, from the British Steel time."
- Rob Halford, Metal Hammer (Germany), February 1988

     " 'Ram It Down' - This was actually done for Turbo but we re-recorded most of it."
- Ian Hill,

Raise the sights, the city lights are calling
We're hot tonight, the time is right, there's nitro in the air
In the street is where we'll meet, we're warning
On the beat, we won't retreat, beware

Thousand of cars and a million guitars
Screaming with power in the air
We've found the place where the decibels race
This army of rock will be there

To ram it down, ram it down
Straight through the heart of this town
Ram it down, ram it down
Razing the place to the ground
Ram it down

Bodies revvin' in leather heaven in wonder
Lights are dimmin' and heads are swimmin' as thunder hits the stage
Hell breaks loose, turn on the juice get stronger
We metal maniacs begin to rave

Shout it out, we're all together now
Shout it out, we join as one

2. Heavy Metal
G. Tipton/R. Halford/K.K. Downing
Lead: Intro and leads: Glenn
Performed live in: 1988
Available live versions:
Veterans Memorial Coliseum, New Haven, Connecticut (broadcast bootleg, 1988)

Like the song "Monsters Of Rock", this song references the historic birthplace of the heavy metal when Rob sings, "An armour plated raging beast that's born of steel and leather":
 

     "I grew up in a steel, coal mining, heavy engineering kind of environment, a very extreme, industrial kind of place. It's also the leather capital of the U.K., which I didn't realize until my later years at school. Leather for horse saddles and other horse-riding gear, for example. It seems almost Spinal Tap-esque that I come from a place of metal and leather."
- Rob Halford, Mobile Entertainment, June, 2002

When the power chords come crashing down
Go tearing through my senses
It's for the strong, not for the weak
In light and dark dimensions

It stimulates, regenerates
It's therapeutic healing
It lifts our feet up off the ground
and blasts us through the ceiling

Between the eyes
I hear it screaming
And it electrifies
Your inner feelings

Hot shock waves charge the air
All heads are banging
Fists pumping everywhere
Guitars are cranking

Heavy Metal. Heavy Metal
What do you want
Heavy Metal. Heavy Metal
What do you want

Ten thousand lights come blazing down
With razor sharp precision
The speakers pour out molten steel
The beat gives double vision

An armour plated raging beast
That's born of steel and leather
It will survive against all odds
Stampeding on forever

3. Love Zone
G. Tipton/R. Halford/K.K. Downing
Lead: Split into 5 parts -Glenn/KK/Glenn/KK/Glenn & KK harmonizing together

Been awake all night, can't get no sleep
I need a steel blue heart walkin' down the street
With your razor nails, and your painted smile
Your gonna get richer, I gotta get wild

Any time you want to
Any way you need
Get your love for money there, satisfaction guaranteed

Wo oh, love zone
You know what I mean
Wo oh, love zone
Live that fantasy

I'm behind the wheel, throttle open wide
The gas tanks full do you want to ride
Drivin' in the fast lane late at night
I can't keep my eyes off your red tail light

You know where we're going
I know where we are
Set the rear view mirror for the backseat of the car

In your leather and chrome you're all the rage
All you want to do is get backstage
You heard all the stories, are they true
The rock 'n' roll circus is calling you

When you get there baby
You'll be hypnotised
Never seen nothin' like it no,
You won't believe your eyes

Everybody get in
Everybody get in that love zone

4. Come And Get It
G. Tipton/R. Halford/K.K. Downing
Lead: Split - KK/Glenn
Performed live in: 1988
Available live versions:
Veterans Memorial Coliseum, New Haven, Connecticut (broadcast bootleg, 1988)

Do you like it heavy?
Do you love it mean?
Do you want it dirty?
We don't play it clean

Standing in the spotlight
Ceiling to the floor
I can see you rockin'
Let me hear you roar

Turn it up!
Tear it down!
Hammering through
Can you feel the sound

Any day, Any night
Midnight madness
Dynamite

If you want it
Come and get it
Do you want it
Come and get it

Can you feel the power?
Blinded by the light
Keep on goin' crazy
Burnin' up the night

Shouting out together
Boiling like the sun
Metal lives forever
Blazing on and on

Do you like it heavy?
Do you love it loud?

5. Hard As Iron
G. Tipton/R. Halford/K.K. Downing
Lead: Split into 4 parts - KK/Glenn & KK harmonizing together/Glenn/Glenn & KK harmonizing together

Whipcrack, stings the sky
Don't mess with me I'm danger
The meanest one alive

Earthquake, breaks the Richter scale
The more that you resist
The more the pain you'll feel

I'm blazing on to glory
There's thunder in my veins
And nothing stands before me
Forever I'll remain

Hard as iron
Sharp as steel
Stop for no man
You better beg and kneel

Untouched, cold as ice
I'll turn your blood to water
Strangle in my vice

Shock waves, bones to dust
You're messin' with a mine field
so expect the worst

As I destroy, last thing you'll hear me cry, is victory, is victory

6. Blood Red Skies
G. Tipton/R. Halford/K.K. Downing
Lead: Main lead: KK: end outro bits: Glenn

     " 'Victim Of Changes' model 1988."
- Glenn Tipton,

     "A mysterious song where you can become science fantasy."
- Rob Halford, Tele 5 Hard 'N' Heavy, 1988

     " 'Blood Red Skies' will be a really unique track - it has all the dark and light construction elements that are all different characters of metal; peculiarities that are in 'Victim Of Changes'. This begins in a weird way, with some atmospheric drums effects, and it tells a robot story and pneumatic fingers and laser rays. It's a metallic fantasy, in which Priest are the best."
- Rob Halford, Metal Hammer, 1988

As the sun goes down, I move around
Keeping to the shadows
Life, hangs by a thread
And I've heard it said, that I'll not see tomorrow

If that's my destiny, it'll have to be
So I'll face the future
Running out of time
I'm on the line
But I'll go down fighting

Felt the hand of justice
Telling wrong from right
Threw me out upon the street in the middle of the night

Cybernetic heartbeat
Digital precise
Pneumatic fingers nearly had me in their vice

Not begging you
I'm telling you

You won't break me
You won't make me
You won't take me,
Under blood red skies

You won't break me
You won't take me
I'll fight you under
blood red skies

Through a shattered city, watched by laser eyes
Overhead the night squad glides
The decaying paradise

Automatic sniper
With computer sights
Scans the bleak horizon for its victim of the night

As the end is drawing near
Standing proud, I won't give in to fear
As I die a legend will be born
I will stand, I will fight
You'll never take me alive

I'll stand my ground
I won't go down

You'll never take me alive
I'm telling you
Hands of justice
I will stand, I will fight
As the sun goes down
I won't give in to fear

7. I'm A Rocker
G. Tipton/R. Halford/K.K. Downing
Lead: All licks and leads: Glenn
Performed live in: 1988, 2005
Available live versions:
Veterans Memorial Coliseum, New Haven, Connecticut (broadcast bootleg, 1988)

     "A future anthem to be played live."
- Glenn Tipton

The greatest times, I've ever known
They're locked inside o' me
And carved out of stone

I've broken hearts
Made people sing
I've drove a million miles
I've done everything

I'm a rocker, Oh oh
Do as I feel as I say
I'm a rocker, Oh oh
And no one can take that away

Bring on the night
That's when I live
I come alive inside
Give all I can give

I live each day
Like it's my last
I live for rock and roll
I never look back

I'm a rocker
And I'm always revvin' up
I'm a rocker
I can never get enough
I'm a rocker
It's something in my blood
I'm a rocker
Wouldn't change it even if I could

8. Johnny B. Goode
Chuck Berry
Arranged by G. Tipton/R. Halford/K.K. Downing

 Lead: Half time section: KK; lead: split into 3 parts - Glenn/K.K./Glenn & KK harmonizing together
 Performed live in: 1988
 Available live versions:
Stockholm, Sweden (bootleg, 1988)

     "We think 'Johnny B. Goode' was good. It was in the back of our minds that automatically if we're going to do this song then it's going to be what we did with 'Diamonds and Rust' and nobody is going to recognize it, not even Chuck Berry. We weren't going to do the intro, because that's such a cliché..."
- K.K. Downing, GUITAR Magazine, 1989


     "...It seemed to fall into place. People tell us we got a lot of balls for trying it. I think we came up with a version that's acceptable."

- Glenn Tipton, GUITAR Magazine, 1989

     "Every bar band plays 'Johnny B. Goode.", so this is the heavy metal version."
- Rob Halford, Tele 5 Hard 'N' Heavy, 1988

     "I don't know what Chuck Berry thinks of our version, but I'm sure he likes the money when he gets the royalty checks! I don't think any heavy metal band's done it on record as such and it's Chuck's 25th Anniversary, I believe, so it felt right to do."
- Rob Halford, 1988

Deep down in Louisiana close to New Orleans
Way back up in the woods amongst the evergreens
There stood an old cabin made of earth and wood
Where lived a country boy named Johnny B. Goode
That never ever learned to read and write so well
But he could play a guitar just like ringing a bell

Go go. Go Johnny go
Johnny B. Goode

He used to carry his guitar in a gunny sack
Go sit beneath the tree by the railroad track
Old engineer sitting in the shade
Strumming with the rhythm that the drivers made
The people passing by would stop and say
'Oh my but how that little country boy could play'

His mother told him some day you will be a man
And you will be the leader of a big old band
Many people coming from miles around
To hear you play your music till the sun goes down
Maybe someday your name will be in lights, saying
'Johnny B. Goode Tonight!'

9. Love You To Death
G. Tipton/R. Halford/K.K. Downing
Lead: KK 

     "...We got a joke about eating me alive in 'Love You To Death' - a rude song."
- Rob Halford, Metal Hammer, 1988

You get me up, then we both get down
We roll all night makin' heavy sounds
I'm all tied up on your bed
I'd rather be inside your head

Don't do this, do it like that oh yeah
You've hit the spot, give it all you got
I don't care

I'll teach you a lesson
That you won't forget
Why don't you save your breath
'Cause I'm gonna love ya' to death

I'm comin' to the point, I can't hold back
Then you ease off with your attack
You're the best I've had if you please
You never stop, you great big tease

You can take me places, I thought I'd never go
And when you turn your love on me
Baby you're the star of the show

10. Monsters Of Rock
G. Tipton/R. Halford/K.K. Downing
Lead: Intro and leads: KK 

     "To be more geographically correct, heavy metal does in fact hail from a small area that lies huddled on the northwest perimeter of the Birmingham city limits - a place known to some as "The Black Country". It is so dubbed due to the fact that, in days gone by, the soot and smoke created by its numerous tiny backstreet metalworking industries literally turned the area black!"
- Hell Bent For Lead Licks preface, 1990

It started many years ago, out of the Black Country
The seed became the embryo, for all on earth to see
Like stealth the word spread mouth to mouth, all
corners of the land
And soon the thing began to grow, and get right out of
hand

From the concrete jungle
The smoke, the dirt, the grime
Could not contain the hunger
It grew and grew in time, into a

Monster, Monster of rock
They could never bind it
It vowed to reach the top
Monster, Monster of rock
They could never bind it
Impossible to stop

Took the sound across the seas, the people stood in
awe
At last the sound had come to them
That they'd been waiting for

And millions roared, and millions cheered
This spectacle on stage
And everyone went crazy as it bellowed out in rage

All songs published by EMI Songs Ltd. except "Johnny B. Goode" published by Jewel Music Publishing Co. Ltd.
Lead breaks are taken from the Ram It Down Re-Master liner notes

TOUR DATES 1988: Mercenaries Of Metal Tour


1988 Tour Program

Rob Halford - v, Glenn Tipton - g, K.K. Downing - g, Ian Hill - b, Dave Holland - d
Tour Manager: Jim Silvia

The atmospheric drones of the familiar "Blood Red Skies" intro sound throughout the auditorium. Anticipation fills the air. Then, where the acoustic guitars should come in, the familiar chord sequence is indeed pumped through the P.A., only it is the similar-sounding electric blast of "The Hellion". Soon the band (minus Rob) emerges onto the stage to blast into "Electric Eye". The Metal God himself is lowered from the lighting rafters in a steel cage: "Up here in space, I'm looking down on you"...

   

 

 

 

 


 

Apparently, a few different stage show ideas were tried out, or at least planned, but very little data and photo/video footage exists from the tour...

     "The Ram It Down tour was sublime metal heaven. Even the stage set was designed to look like a steel mill, with gurgling vats of molten metal and clanging wheels and cogs everywhere."
- Jay Allen Sanford, Sound Waves, May 1998

     "...The central idea was that a vat of 'molten metal' would pour into a cylindrical drum, which was to be covered by a black curtain (of sorts). This would occur during 'The Hellion'. As 'Electric Eye' began, and the opening line was to be sung, the curtain would reveal Rob Halford, lending to the idea that the molten metal made him... I can't say I recall this elaborate thing actually happening though. I seem to remember that the cage he appeared in was covered, and magically, he appeared in it in an instant to sing the opening line..."
- Eyewitness report

     "I saw the Ram It Down tour when they came through Texas, and I don't recall any vats of molten metal. It had the suggestion of a steel factory, maybe. And it did have dangling chains and gears. They opened with 'Electric Eye' and Rob was suspended in a cage high in the air near the lighting rig. Then the cage slowly moved across the stage from the K.K.'s side over to Glenn's side. I also remember Rob shooting the sparks out of a machine gun looking thing near the end."
- Eyewitness report

The Hollywood, Florida bootleg video footage reveals a metal railing around the stage, a wall of speakers in front of a metal pointy front-protruding drum riser, ramped stairs on each side, a large "JUDAS PRIEST" logo painted on the stage floor and Rob coming down from the lighting rafters in a metal cage, and a photo from Europe reveals a "laser" cannon that Rob aims at the audience...


Stage set in Hollywood, Florida


K.K. jams by the drum riser


Glenn solos near one of the stairs


Rob descends in a steel cage...

 
and mans a "laser" cannon...  

SETLIST (Orange titles are from the current album)

From the May 7 Stockholm show:

     "We just wanted to make a really heavy set that had a combination of all different powerful elements, and some of those songs from Turbo just didn't make the European set list. Although Turbo has a stronger feeling when it's played live, with the set list that we're playing at the moment, we didn't feel there was any space for some of the material, but we're thinking of bringing some of it back into the set a little later in the tour..."
- Rob Halford, Tele 5 Hard 'N' Heavy, June 1988

The Hellion/ Electric Eye
Metal Gods
Sinner
Breaking The Law
Come And Get It
I'm A Rocker
The Sentinel
The Ripper
Beyond The Realms Of Death
Some Heads Are Gonna Roll
Ram It Down
Heavy Metal
Victim Of Changes
The Green Manalishi (With The Two-Pronged Crown)
Johnny B. Goode
Living After Midnight
You've Got Another Thing Comin'
Hell Bent For Leather

From the August 7 New Haven show:
The Hellion/ Electric Eye
Metal Gods
Sinner
Breaking The Law
Come And Get It
I'm A Rocker
Some Heads Are Gonna Roll
Turbo Lover
Ram It Down
Heavy Metal
Living After Midnight
Hell Bent For Leather
Victim Of Changes
The Green Manalishi (With The Two-Pronged Crown)

From the September 18 Hollywood Sportatorium show:
The Hellion/ Electric Eye
Metal Gods
Sinner
Breaking The Law
Come And Get It
I'm A Rocker
The Sentinel
The Ripper
Beyond The Realms Of Death
Some Heads Are Gonna Roll
Turbo Lover
Ram It Down
Heavy Metal
Victim Of Changes
The Green Manalishi (With The Two-Pronged Crown)
Living After Midnight
You've Got Another Thing Comin'
Hell Bent For Leather

European tour with support from Bonfire and Cinderella
DATE VENUE CITY, STATE COUNTRY NOTES
May 7 Isstadion Stockholm Sweden Bootleg audio exists


Rob on opening night

May 8 Frölundaborg Gothenburg Sweden Bootleg audio exists


Priest and Gothenburg fans feed off each other

May 9 Skedsmohallen Oslo Norway Bootleg audio and video exists
    


Pictures from Skedsmohallen in Oslo

May 10 KB Hallen Copenhagen Denmark Bootleg audio exists
May 12 Deutschlandhalle Berlin East Germany Bootleg audio exists
May 14 Ijsselhall Zwolle Holland Bootleg audio exists
May 15 Forest National Brussels Belgium Bootleg audio exists
May 16 Le Zenith Paris France Bootleg audio exists
May 18 Palais des Sport Toulouse France Bootleg audio exists
May 20 Sport Palace Barcelona Spain Bootleg audio and video exists
May 21 Velodromo Anoeta San Sebastian Spain Bootleg audio exists
May 22 Palacio des Deportes Madrid Spain  
May 23
May 26 Palatrussardi Milan Italy Bootleg audio exists
May 27 Palasport Florence Italy Bootleg audio exists
May 29 Patinoire de Malley Lausanne Switzerland Bootleg audio exists
May 31 Carl Diem Halle Würzburg West Germany
June 1 Elbert Halle Ludwigshafen West Germany
June 2 Rudisedlmayer Munchen West Germany Bootleg audio exists
June 3 Olympiahalle Munich West Germany
June 4 Open Air Festival Lübeck West Germany Bootleg video exists
June 5 Weser Ems Halle Oldenburg West Germany Bootleg audio exists
June 7 Stadthalle Offenbach West Germany Bootleg audio exists
June 8 Halle 10 Ulm West Germany
June 9 Boeblingen Sporthalle Stuttgart West Germany Bootleg audio exists
June 10 Sporthalle Köln West Germany Bootleg audio exists
     "Germany is just so consistent once you've cracked it. If you make good records, you can sell a lot of albums there, a lot more than the UK, and you can put on big tours. It doesn't seem to matter if your popularity goes up or down in America. Germany just
seems to be great all the time. You only have to take a look at the audiences. They are obviously totally into it in a big way. Every time I get a royalty statement I can guarantee German sales always bring a big smile to my face!"
- K.K. Downing, BLACK SABBATH: NEVER SAY DIE!, 2003
British tour with support from Cinderella

This was Priest's first tour of their British homeland in four years, and it is reported that such rock luminaries as Birmingham's own Robert Plant attended a show or two!
June 12 Powerhouse Birmingham England Bootleg audio exists
June 13 Hammersmith Odeon Theatre London England Bootleg audio exists of both shows
June 14
June 16 De Montford Hall Leicester England Bootleg audio exists
June 17 Playhouse Theatre Edinburgh Scotland Bootleg audio exists
June 18 City Hall Newcastle-upon-Tyne England Bootleg audio exists
June 19 Apollo Theatre Manchester England Bootleg audio exists
June 21 Centre Newport England Bootleg audio exists
June 22 City Hall Sheffield England
North American tour with support from Cinderella and Slayer
July 22 CNE Grandstands Toronto Canada
July 23 Maple Leaf Gardens Toronto Canada Bootleg audio exists
July 24 Broome County Arena Binghampton, NY USA Bootleg audio exists
July 24 Civic Center Ottawa Canada
July 26 Centrum Worchester, MA USA
July 27 Orange County Fairgrounds Middletown, NY USA
July 28 Nassau Coliseum Uniondale, NY USA
July 29 Meadowlands Arena East Rutherford, NJ USA Bootleg audio exists
July 30 Nassau Coliseum Uniondale, NY USA
July 31 Civic Center Providence, RI USA
August 2 The Spectrum Philadelphia, PA USA Bootleg audio exists
August 5 S.P.A.C. Saratoga Springs, NY USA Bootleg audio exists
August 6 War Memorial Rochester, NY USA
August 7 New Haven Coliseum New Haven, CT USA Bootleg audio exists from broadcast
August 8 Broome County Arena Binghamton, NY USA
August 9 Memorial Coliseum Buffalo, NY USA
August 10 Hersheypark Stadium Hershey, PA USA
August 12 Capital Centre Landover, MD USA
August 13 Capitol Center Largo, MD USA Bootleg audio exists
August 14 Coliseum Hampton, VA USA
August 15 Ohio Center Columbus, OH USA
August 16 Hara Arena Dayton, OH USA
August 17 Richfield Coliseum Cleveland, OH USA
August 19 Toledo, OH USA
August 20 The Palace Detroit, MI USA Bootleg audio exists
August 21 Castle Farms Music Center Charlevoix, MI USA
August 23 Market Square Arena Indianapolis, IN USA
August 24 Rosemont Horizon Chicago, IL USA Bootleg audio exists
August 26 Alpine Valley Music Theatre East Troy, WI USA
August 27 Metrocenter Minneapolis, MN USA
August 29 Bonner Springs Kansas City, KS USA
August 30 Kiel Auditorium St. Louis, MO USA Bootleg King Biscuit broadcast audio exists
September 8 Coliseum Greensboro, NC USA
September 9 Coliseum Charlotte, NC USA
September 10 Starwood Amphitheater Nashville, TN USA
September 11 Boutwell Auditorium Birmingham, AL USA
September 13 Midsouth Coliseum Memphis, TN USA
September 14 The Omni Atlanta, GA USA
September 16 Memorial Coliseum Jacksonville, FL USA
September 17 Civic Center Lakeland, FL USA
September 18 Sportatorium Hollywood, FL USA Bootleg audio and video exists. This was the final show at the Sportatorium before it was torn down.
September 20 The Coliseum Shreveport, LA USA
September 21 Lakefront Arena New Orleans, LA USA
September 23 The Summit Houston, TX USA
September 24 Starplex Amphitheatre Dallas, TX USA
September 25 Convention Center Arena San Antonio, TX USA
September 27 Frank Irwin Center Austin, TX USA Bootleg audio exists
September 28 Coliseum Lubbock, TX USA Bootleg audio exists
September 29 Country Colsieum El Paso, TX USA
September 30 Lawlor Events Center Reno, NV USA
It was here that the members of Judas Priest were served a summons to appear in an upcoming trial, which became the infamous double-suicide case wherein Judas Priest and CBS Records were brought up on charges of causing the deaths through subliminal messages planted in their STAINED CLASS album...
     "We were just about to go onstage one night and the Sheriff walked in and gave us a subpoena."
- Glenn Tipton, VH1 Behind The Music, 2001

     "We'd heard about the two lads in Reno. We knew they'd been Priest fans, and we heard rumors that the parents thought
our music had somehow driven them to it.
     "It was almost five years later, when we did a concert in Nevada, that we were handed a writ claiming that our album
STAINED CLASS had been responsible for the double suicide, and we were being sued for $6.2 million. Apparently you have to be
handed the writ in the state where the allegations are being brought against you."
- Glenn Tipton, August 1990
October 1 Salt Palace Salt Lake City, UT USA
October 2 McNichols Arena Denver, CO USA
October 4 Tingley Coliseum Albuquerque, NM USA Bootleg audio exists
October 6 Veterans Memorial Coliseum Phoenix, AZ USA
October 7 Cow Palace San Francisco, CA USA Bootleg audio exists from the 8th
October 8
October 9 Shoreline Amphitheater Mountain View, CA USA Bootleg audio exists
October 11 Selland Arena Fresno, CA USA
October 12 Sports Arena San Diego, CA USA Bootleg audio exists
October 13 Sports Arena Los Angeles, CA USA  
October 14
October 15 Irvine Meadows Laguna Hills, CA USA
October 16
October 18 Coliseum Spokane, WA USA
October 19 Center Coliseum Seattle, WA USA Bootleg audio exists
October 22 PNE Coliseum Vancouver Canada
October 23 Portland Coliseum Portland, OR USA Bootleg audio exists


© 2002-2003
Steel & Leather Productions, U.S.A.