Turbo was the album that caused a lot of long-time Judas Priest fans to scream for vengeance (or, at least, to not buy the album). With all the hair taking over the moneymaking side of metal in the mid-1980s, Priest decided to try to cash in with a more commercial and synthesizer-driven sound. Turbo does not sound like Poison, but it is more radio friendly than the often harsh and brutal Defenders of the Faith. Most fans did not like Turbo because it did not sound enough like Judas Priest. I remember reading a letter in a rock magazine where a fan admitted to crying when he first heard the album. Well, it’s not that bad. In fact, some of the tracks here are pretty good and one is incredible.
“Turbo Lover” is a very cool track. The synthesizers make it sound like a futuristic motorcycle cruising down the highway and the guitar solo is awesome. “Locked In” is very commercial but darn catchy which was accompanied by Priest’s most creative music video. “Reckless” is another catchy track that does not become a syrupy commercial song like some of the tracks here. “Hot For Love” is also pretty good but the chorus seems disjointed. The guitar break demonstrates how bands like Iron Maiden were influenced by these metal statesmen. The best track, by far, though, is “Out in the Cold.” It is an amazing, powerful ballad and one of my all-time favorite Priest songs. It is worth the price of the album alone!
In my opinion, Turbo’s main flaw is that it didn’t go further in its experimentation. It becomes very commercial with tracks like “Parental Guidance” (an obvious knock on the PMRC who criticized the track “Eat Me Alive” off their previous album), “Private Property,” and “Wild Nights, Hot Crazy Days.” “Parental Guidance” sounds like a song written by a bunch of teenagers, not by metal veterans well into their 30s and maybe even pushing 40. “Rock You All Around the World” is one of those “all hail us” songs that I do not care for. Despite these tracks, Turbo is not the complete bust a lot of fans claim it to be. Turbo was actually planned to be a double album called “Twin Turbos.” When that plan was scrapped, many tracks were left off. Some found there way on Ram it Down like the title track, “Hard as Iron,” “Monsters of Rock,” and “Love You to Death.” The first two were virtually complete at the time of Turbo. It is difficult to imagine what a double Twin Turbos album would be like as Ram it Down is so much different than Turbo. It may have helped fans accept the synthesizers if half the album gave them the more typical Priest sound. It probably should not be the first Judas Priest album you buy, but it is not a complete bust. “All Fired Up” is a good extra track and the brilliant “Out in the Cold” is worth two stars alone!