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Review: Judas Priest: Heavy Metal Painkillers - An Illustrated History
Book Review
Judas Priest: Heavy Metal Painkillers - An Illustrated History
Publisher: ECW Press
Author: Martin Popoff
Year published: 2007
ISBN: 1-55022-784-X
Pages: 380

Rating: 4/5

Review online: April 20, 2008
Reviewed by: Michel Renaud
Readers Rating
Judas Priest: Heavy Metal Painkillers - An Illustrated History

Rated 4.25/5 (85%) (4 Votes)

For those who have read the Black Sabbath biography (Doom Let Loose) by the same author, this book will look very familiar.  Same page format, and each chapter represents an album (with a couple of exceptions.)  This spans everything from the formation of the band all the way to early talks of the "Nostradamus" concept album.  At the very beginning of the book, the author expresses some frustration over the band members' "safe answers" (not "adventurous enough in their answers", if memory serves) and, unfortunately, he's right.  Unlike the Sabbath biography, I didn't find much "juicy stuff" here.  Most of the comments from band members don't reveal much more than your average magazine interview, although here such interviews do go on longer than space-strained magazines.  At times it really felt like reading an interview after the release of an album (best album we've ever done blablabla).  When a band member says something "risqué", it's nothing new - such as some of the sentiments following Rob's departure in the early 90s.  I was hoping to get more details about this, but I can't say I read anything that I hadn't read or heard before on that topic.  Can't blame the author for this though, it's the band members that failed to deliver the goods. (I swear the end of the previous sentence wasn't premeditated.)  If anything, it's the author who does most of the "controversial" talk here, expressing his dislikes and preferences in rather direct ways at times.

With that said, even though it feels like a "safe biography", it still is pretty interesting - just don't expect to find all the good talk you can find in the Sabbath book.  Here again the book is filled with killer pictures, a few pictures of rare album/single editions, old concert tickets and posters, etc...  The book covers not only the Judas Priest material, but also Fight, Two (ack!), Halford, as well as Glenn Tipton's solo albums.  Even though this turned out to be a bit of a disappointment compared to the Sabbath book, this is still nearly 400 pages filled with the history of Priest, all in one location, all graced with Popoff's attention to details.  A worthy purchase.

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