THIS IS DEFINITELY ONE OF THE MOST UNDERRATED HEAVY METAL ALBUMS. I CAN’T FOR THE LIFE OF ME UNDERSTAND WHY NO ONE LIKES THIS ALBUM. IT’S EVERYTHING METALHEADS HAD HOPED FOR AFTER THE SLICK-SOUNDING TURBO. IT’S FAST, IT’S LOUD, IT’S OBNOXIOUS AND VIOLENT. IN OTHER WORDS, THIS IS A GREAT METAL ALBUM. ALSO THE COVER PACKS A HARD PUNCH (NO PUN INTENDED). THE PRIEST BOYS PAY HOMAGE TO THE MOST DAZZILING OF MUSICAL STYLES IN ‘HEAVY METAL’, AND DO COVERS OF CHUCK BERRY SONGS, (JOHNNY B GOOD). THIS IS THE MOST SEVERELY UNDERRATED ALBUM IN ALL OF HEAVY METAL, AND IT TRULY SUCKS THAT IT HAS NOT FOUND IT’S PLACE AMONG ALL THE OTHER PRIEST ALBUMS THAT WERE JUST AS GOOD.
2009 digitally remastered and expanded edition of the British Metal band’s second album, originally released in 1980. Wheels Of Steel was produced by the band in association with Pete Hinton at Ramport Studios. It features the original line-up of Biff Byford on vocals, Graham Oliver and Paul Quinn on guitars, Steve Dawson on bass and Pete Gill on drums. The album now includes rare live b-sides and a 7” single edit, live tracks recorded in front of 35,000 Metal maniacs at the very first Donington Monsters Of Rock festival, plus extremely rare and recently discovered demos recorded prior to the album which are previously unreleased. It also features rare and previously unseen photos courtesy of the band’s personal archives as well as extensive liner notes by Classic Rock and Metal Hammer scribe Jerry Ewing, written in co-operation with lead singer Biff Byford. 17 tracks. EMI.
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This album deserves about 3.5 or 4 stars, but I am giving it five because reviewers have been underrating this great album. Ram it Down is definately not their worst album, it is much better than Turbo, Rocka Rolla, and Point of Entry. Plus, many people say that the Title Track is the only good song on the album. “Ram it Down” is a really kickass song, but so is “Heavy Metal” and “Blood Red Skies”. I highly suggest this album to any Priest fans that don’t already have it.
After the release of “Turbo”, an album I (and many others) dug but which left a lot of Priest fans scratching their heads, the question was whether or not the band was going to go in a poppier direction. Happily they did no such thing and came back with “Ram it Down”, a crushing metallic onslaught that marked the return of the classic Judas Priest sound along with some new tricks.Make no mistake, these songs are the heaviest Priest had written up to that time, although the song lyrics are more down and dirty ala Kix or Faster Pussycat as was the scene in ‘88, and some of Rob Halford’s customary forays into fantasy/literary themes are absent here. Still, songs like “Hard As Iron”, “I’m A Rocker”, “Heavy Metal”, and the title track are shining headbangers. You also have the most bizarre version of “Johnny B. Goode” you’re likely to hear. The title track also has the distinction of containing what many Priest fans regard as perhaps the greatest extended guitar solo duel in metal (and Priest’s) history and marked Glenn Tipton’s and K.K. Downing’s evolution into the cutting edge of guitar-playing.The remastered sound is really crisp here and the guitars sound great, although no amount of studio tweaking could do away with the synths and Dave Holland’s lame electronic drums (what were you guys thinking?). Unfortunately, the only bonus tracks are two filler live songs, but this album is worth owning for the title track alone. Be amazed, be very amazed.
Originally, ‘Turbo’ (1986) was to be released as a double record, featuring songs that are included on this record, released two years later. (For unreleased tunes from this period, listen to “Red, White & Blue” (from the ‘British Steel’ reissue) and “Prisoner of Your Eyes” (from the ‘Screaming for Vengeance’ reissue).) This would have made for a more traditional Judas Priest record overall, but as it was planned, the pop-oriented tunes on the former were panned by the rock press and the edgier tunes on this latter release were lost in the backlash.”Ram It Down”, “Heavy Metal”, and “Monsters of Rock” are just as heavy any of the sounds on ‘Painkiller’ (1990) in that regard. “Blood Red Skies” combines the traditional two-guitar attack and post-apacolyptic lyrical landscape with a synthesizer to good effect. Even the radio-song, “I’m a Rocker”, and the tongue-in-cheek rendition of “Johnny B. Goode”, are appreciated.The downside of ‘Ram It Down’ is the sound. By that time, it seems that Tom Allom, the long-time producer who began his tenure by spicing up the classic ‘Unleashed in the East’ (1979), hit an all-time low with this swan song.BONUS TRACKS: As with the previous reissues, we have two live songs that has nothing to do with this particular record or the era it was recorded in, “Night Comes Down” (from the same 1984 show as “Jawbreaker” from the ‘Sin After Sin’ reissue, “Grinder” from the ‘British Steel’ reissue, and “Heavy Duty” from the ‘Defenders of the Faith’ reissue) and “Bloodstone” (from the same 1982 show as “Devil’s Child” from the ‘Screaming for Vengeance’ reissue, “Screaming for Vengeance” from the ‘Priest Live’ reissue, and “Riding on the Wind” from the ‘Hell Bent for Leather’ reissue).
WOW! Let me first start off by saying that each Judas Priest studio effort is a distinguishable classic. The Judas Priest Remaster series is both good and bad. Good because each studio release sounds sonically superior to the old versions. All of them sound clean, crisp sounding from Sin After Sin through Painkiller. Also good on some of the reissues are the studio bonus tracks. I will review each bonus track as I review each reissue, some are better than others. The bad part about the studio ablum remasters series is the live bonus tracks (do not be confused, the live bonus tracks on both live reissues are great, and I include those bonus tracks in the reviews). ALL the live bonus tracks are lousy. The sound quality is good, just the performances are uninspried, and lame. From Sin After Sin’s Jawbreaker (Halford sounds weak here) to Painkiller’s Leather Rebel (which is made worse because it’s rpobably the weakest song on Painkiller). If you are a fan who has all the studio albums already and are looking to wet your ears with the live tracks, forget about it, they will let you down. Seriously, the songs off of the Halford-less 98 Live Meltdown are more inspirational than these live bonus songs. Well that sums up the Remaster Series as a whole,now on with the individual review…This album is an UNDER-RATED Priest Jem. Sure, it’s no BritishSteel, or Killing Machine, but come on, it’s 10 years later, andthey still can scream of Vengenence and riff like Metal Gods.Proof is the leadoff track, Ram It Down. Their heaviest album opener since Screaming For Vengence in 1982. This song just cooks and it’s kind of gets the tempo set for Painkiller in 2 years. Other great tracks are Heavy Metal, Hard as Iron, and a ripping cover of Johnny B. Goode. My 2 favorite tracks though are Blood Red Skies (Pure classic Priest) and Monsters of Rock, what a great way to close an album along with the opener titletrack. All-in-all, a GREAT album, ever though the drums do sound a bit mechanical. It really isn’t that bad. The remastering issuperb, both in sound improvement and album packaging (lyrics and photos). As for the 2 bonus tracks, Live Bloodstone and Night Comes Down, really not necessary to have been included. But the album is definitely worth getting.