If Black Sabbath are the grandfathers of heavy metal, then Judas Priest is the father that outdid them in almost every way. If you ask me to show someone what heavy metal is, I won’t hand them a copy of Paranoid or Master of Reality. I’ll instead hand them a copy of Screaming For Vengeance, British Steel, or Painkiller. That’s what Judas Priest means to the heavy metal community. Without them we wouldn’t have a classic look for heavy metal with studs and leather.
Thin Lizzy and Wishbone Ash might have been the first to use the twin-guitar attack, but Judas Priest was the one that solidified it in the heavy metal sphere. K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton were and still are probably the best twin guitarists for any band. It was set to be the 50th anniversary celebration for Judas Priest this year. To make up for those shows being postponed, it’s high time for Judas Priest-A-Thon. The brother to the album by album reviews, Iron Maiden-A-Thon and the cousin to our series of Rush album reviews. You’re going to be getting a Judas Priest album review, every business day, until we’re all through.
Telling any band to follow-up British Steel would have been foolhardy. That album lives on in the pantheon of heavy metal. There’s no doubt that it’s an absolutely perfect album. For Judas Priest, they had intense pressure from their record label to improve upon the sales of that album. It meant that they would have to go back into the tank for recording immediately after touring to support British Steel. We’ll have to see what that follow-up looked like, but that would result in their seventh album, Point of Entry.
Background On Point Of Entry
Judas Priest radically changed their sound and the landscape of heavy metal with the success of British Steel. It let them in on the very lucrative US market. The changes didn’t stop there, they went even deeper on the commercial sound for this next album. Luckily for all of us, they had a stable lineup to record with. Instead of recording in Ringo Starr’s house again, the band took their cash and went to Ibiza Studios in Spain. At the very least Point of Entry would be the best sounding and most well produced Judas Priest album at the time.
It was also a time of experimentation in recording and writing for the band. They normally went into the studio with songs already thought of and written. This time, they escaped to the beaches of Ibiza and wrote the songs in the studio. It was a spontaneous sound and idea for the band to do. Point of Entry has no songs longer than about four minutes. It was recorded from October to November of 1980. It finally saw release on February 26th, 1981. Point Of Entry built upon the success for the band in sales and peaked around the same spots on the charts around the world.
The other issue with the album is that the covers (yes, there were two), are atrocious.
The one on the left is the European and South American cover for the album. One the right is the cover that the rest of the world got. I much prefer the one on the left. CBS Records forced their hand with replacing the cover for the album. That wouldn’t be the only thing that CBS would force with this album though. We’ll talk about that later though. On to the music.
1. Heading Out To The Highway
Once again, and I’m going to sound unoriginal with all the times I’m going to say this, but Judas Priest knows how to start off an album right. Even with an album that is somewhat maligned like Point Of Entry, they start off strong. A concert staple that sounds even better when they play it live, “Heading Out To The Highway” is another in a long line of perfect driving/biking songs from Judas Priest.
You can probably guess what the song is about, but it’s about driving off by yourself. You take the highway and it’s just you and your vehicle. Take some risks, take control of your life, it’s yours and no one else’s. It’s an uplifting song that perfectly opens this album.
2. Don’t Go
One of the lead singles off this album, “Don’t Go” is a seemingly lost song in the history of Judas Priest. In general, I can say that I’ve listened to Point Of Entry the least of any of the non-Rocka Rolla, non-Ripper Owens albums. The song itself is about someone leaving after either a one-night stand or a long relationship. It has a sort of old school Judas Priest feeling. The first part of the song sounds drastically different to the latter parts. This is probably a forgotten song in the annals of Judas Priest history for a reason. Not the best song they’ve ever made. Some of the riffs are vocals are good, it just doesn’t add up to a good song.
3. Hot Rockin’
And the award for strangest heavy metal music video goes to…. “Hot Rockin'” by Judas Priest. Starts off with the band working out, hitting the showers, and then hitting the town. It ends with explosions of fire and headbangers. This was the third and final of the singles made for the album and it shows that they’re all grouped together as the first three tracks.
“Hot Rockin'” seems like it might be about sex or something like that, but a deeper look into the lyrics spell out a completely different story. There’s nothing like the roar of the crowd and the feeling that it brings you as a musician. It barely makes the cut as a Priest classic, but it’s a fun one live.
4. Turning Circles
Now we get to one of the tracks on the album that I don’t have a particular fondness for. “Turning Circles” is a strange song that spreads a message that isn’t particularly clear. Is it about someone telling people to go away from them because they don’t know where their life is headed? Is it about someone who’s drunk and dizzy? I don’t really know. It’s not a great song and adds to some of the malaise for this album. I skip this one a lot.
5. Desert Plains
We’re back to another classic track after the last stinker. “Desert Plains” is a perfect song that can be played at any speed, slow or fast, and it’s still just as good. In the case of some Judas Priest songs, they’ve changed the tempo over the years. This one is about driving through the desert into the night to meet up with someone. Your only companion is the dashboard or handlebars and the desert. Just when the sun is about to come up, you see the person you’ve been journeying to meet.
Outside of “Heading Out To The Highway” this is the most classic Priest song on the album. I love this track, and it’s probably my favorite on the album overall.
6. Solar Angels
Just when you thought Judas Priest might have been going a bit soft on this album, they bust out a heavy number like “Solar Angels”. This one is practically an instrumental with only about nine lines of lyrics. It tells the story of some sort of angels that the narrator meets. Who knows what the angels are there to do, but it sounds badass. I’m going to leave it at that. I hope to eventually hear this one live, because that guitar riff at the beginning is so unique. I haven’t heard anything like it outside of this song. This is one of the best underrated Priest tracks out there.
7. You Say Yes
There’s usually something interesting and cool that I can find in most Judas Priest songs, even the ones I don’t like. This one is pretty close to nonredeemable for me. It’s just generic, bland, and if it wasn’t on a Judas Priest album, I wouldn’t listen to it. The thing that saves it is the guitar work by Downing and Tipton. The overall riff of the song sounds goofy and unlike Judas Priest. There’s a section where it gets pretty heavy, and for that like twenty second time frame, it’s an enjoyable experience. Outside of that, skip this one. The lyrics are some garbage about not wanting to go out and party or something like that. I honestly didn’t want to listen to this one more than like five times for the review.
8. All The Way
Another bad track from this album. Sorry to the people that love Point Of Entry but this section of the album is not great compared to some other sections of Judas Priest’s catalog. “All The Way” is a cheap attempt at a sexual innuendo filled song that doesn’t really work. The guitars are again the highlight with Rob Halford trying his best to sing the silly lyrics that are thinly-veiled. It’s another one that gets a skip, but I had to listen to it for the sake of this review.
Alright, we’re back on track here. “Troubleshooter is a more fun and actually listenable song than the previous two. It’s not a classic by any means, but going from the past two to this one is sort of a breath of fresh air. The lyrics are more thin sexual references. It’s a more bluesy sounding commercial song than anything that were on previous albums. It’s not a great one though, so I usually skip this one also. But it might be worth another try.
10. On The Run
Sadly, the album can’t finish strong though. “On The Run” starts off very strong with a heavy riff and some great vocal lines from Halford. It just follows the formula for most of the non-classic songs from this period though. It’s got a hooky chorus that repeats and the tone of the song sort of shifts. It’s about not living for other people and doing what you want, but that sort of lyrical content is played out by this point with three songs already like that on the album. What could have been a cool lengthy bluesy track, is instead a truncated mess that ends the album on a dud. Another one from this album that I’m not a fan of.
Score, Conclusion, And Follow-Up To Point Of Entry
This album took the success of British Steel and used that sound again. It didn’t work for the most part the second time around. Whatever magic that album had in it, was reserved for just that album. Point Of Entry is a disappointment in the grand scheme of Judas Priest albums. With every disappointment for Judas Priest usually comes something after that is fantastic though. I believe a majority of this disappointment comes from the fact that CBS Records put immense pressure on the band to replicate that sound and success from British Steel.
K.K. Downing had this to say about it: “People don’t understand how pressured we were by the label, either to do covers or make hits. With that album, we gave them what they wanted”. Some of the tracks on the album are fantastic, but the weight of the clunkers overtakes them in some ways. Tracks like “Solar Angels”, “Hot Rockin'”, “Heading Out To The Highway” and “Desert Plains” are great. The other songs on the album, not so much. This album is like Hell Bent For Leather/Killing Machine to me, except it doesn’t have the legendary reputation that album does. You take the good with the bad though, and at the end of the day, a bad Judas Priest song is still listenable.
For that reason, I’m going to give Point of Entry a 6.5/10. It has great moments but it also has a lot of bad tracks that weight the whole experience down as a whole. Some might say that’s harsh, but take out the bias of either “I listened to it live in the 80’s” or “This was my first Judas Priest record” and it doesn’t live up. The good songs on this record are definitely overlooked, I can give people that. It’s not the worst Judas Priest record either. It does have some of the worst art on a Judas Priest album though. The album art for any territory is horrendous.
Following Up Point Of Entry
Judas Priest would tour on the World Wide Blitz Tour to support the record. That tour would see some of the tracks played from the album, but for the most part it was the classic material from the previous records. I think the band knew that this album was more influenced by the record label than anything and rectified that for their next album. The next record would be another that shook the heavy metal scene to the core, 1982’s Screaming For Vengeance would send the band into the stratosphere and change the world forever. You’ll have to wait until tomorrow to hear about that one though.
For more on Judas Priest, heavy metal, or any other general pop culture, make sure to check back to That Hashtag Show.