Judas Priest : Rocka Rolla
(Repertoire - 1974)
Category : underrated
When it comes to the influence Judas Priest has had on the Heavy Metal genre as a whole they are in my opinion only surpassed by Black Sabbath. They certainly were a defining force in the creation of the genre, ever since they released 'Sad Wings of Destiny' in 1976. In the following five years it set the standard for other Heavy Metal bands to follow and even today it's still an influence in the subgenres of Power Metal and Progressive Metal. But many people seem to forget Judas Priest released one album prior to 'Sad Wings...'. If they know about it, the only time they mention it, is to compare it to 'Sad Wings...'. That's always done in a negative way and to point out how Priest had progressed since the release of their debut. This is a treatment 'Rocka Rolla' does not deserve.
Forget that this album was released by the "gods of Metal". Stop comparing it to the vastly different type of album 'Sad Wings...' is. 'Rocka rolla' isn't Metal. It's a Rock album, so holding the fact that it is "less powerful" and "less acrobatic" against it, is like saying painters are bad artists because their trampoline skills are weak. If you would evaluate a painter, you wouldn't be giving him points for jumping, would you? Well, it's the exact same thing here.
'Rocka Rolla' is filled with excellent Hard Rock tunes, but there's an interesting mixture of straight forward songs and some rather experimental cuts, giving the album more depth. It's also varied in its dynamics. There are rockers, but there also frequently are soft passages. It all makes for an interesting listen, especially if you're into Classic Rock. And if you're not turned off by other bands of the era like Led Zeppelin or Deep Purple, give it a listen as well.
Relax. Take your time. The beauty of the album may only reveal itself to you after a few spins on the turning table. But when you listen, above all don't forget to forget what band this is.
Standouts: while there aren't any weak moments on 'Rocka Rolla', these are the tracks I'd recommend for a more thorough listen: 'One for the Road', 'Rocka Rolla', 'Cheater' and 'Run of the Mill'.