Better by You, Better than Me

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"Better by You, Better than Me"
Single by Spooky Tooth
from the album Spooky Two
Genre Hard rock, progressive rock
Label Island (UK)
A&M (US)
Songwriter(s) Gary Wright
Producer(s) Jimmy Miller

"Better by You, Better than Me" is a 1969 song by the English rock band Spooky Tooth. The song was covered in 1978 by heavy metal band Judas Priest.

Rock music is a broad genre of popular music that originated as "rock and roll" in the United States in the early 1950s, and developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and later, particularly in the United States and the United Kingdom. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, a style which drew heavily from the genres of blues, rhythm and blues, and from country music. Rock music also drew strongly from a number of other genres such as electric blues and folk, and incorporated influences from jazz, classical and other musical styles. Musically, rock has centered on the electric guitar, usually as part of a rock group with electric bass, drums, and one or more singers. Usually, rock is song-based music usually with a 4/4 time signature using a verse–chorus form, but the genre has become extremely diverse. Like pop music, lyrics often stress romantic love but also address a wide variety of other themes that are frequently social or political.

Spooky Tooth were an English rock band. Principally active between 1967 and 1974, the band re-formed several times in later years.

Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the United Kingdom. With roots in blues rock, psychedelic rock, and acid rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. The genre's lyrics and performance styles are sometimes associated with aggression and machismo.


In 1990, Judas Priest's version of the song was the subject of a much-publicized "subliminal message trial". The band were the subject of a civil lawsuit alleging their recording was responsible for the suicide attempts of two young men in Sparks, Nevada in 1985. The case was eventually dismissed.

Suicide Intentional act of causing ones own death

Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one's own death. Mental disorders, including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, personality disorders, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse—including alcoholism and the use of benzodiazepines—are risk factors. Some suicides are impulsive acts due to stress, such as from financial difficulties, troubles with relationships, or bullying. Those who have previously attempted suicide are at a higher risk for future attempts. Effective suicide prevention efforts include limiting access to methods of suicide—such as firearms, drugs, and poisons; treating mental disorders and substance misuse; proper media reporting of suicide; and improving economic conditions. Even though crisis hotlines are common, there is little evidence for their effectiveness.

Sparks, Nevada City in Nevada, United States

Sparks is a city in Washoe County, Nevada, United States. It was founded in 1904 and incorporated on March 15, 1905, and is located just east of Reno. The 2010 U.S. Census Bureau population count was 90,264. It is the fifth most populous city in Nevada. It is named after the late Nevada Governor John Sparks, a member of the Silver Party.


Luther James Grosvenor is an English rock musician, who played guitar in Spooky Tooth, briefly in Stealers Wheel and, under the pseudonym Ariel Bender, in Mott the Hoople and Widowmaker.

Mike Harrison (musician) British singer

Mike Harrison was an English musician, most notable as a principal lead singer of Spooky Tooth and as a solo artist. He was also the lead singer in The V.I.P.'s, Art and the Hamburg Blues Band, among others.

Mike Kellie English rock drummer

Michael Alexander Kellie was an English musician, composer and record producer.

Judas Priest version

"Better by You, Better than Me"
Better By You, Better Than Me.jpg
Single by Judas Priest
from the album Stained Class
Released 1978
Format45 RPM
RecordedOctober–November 1977
Genre Heavy metal
Label CBS, Inc. (UK)
Columbia Records (US)
Songwriter(s) Gary Wright
Producer(s) James Guthrie
Judas Priest
Judas Priest singles chronology
"Diamonds & Rust"
"Better by You, Better than Me"
"Before the Dawn"

Judas Priest's rendition of "Better by You, Better than Me" is faster than Spooky Tooth's and adds a short vocal bridge. The song was a last-minute addition to the album when CBS Records insisted on including another more commercial track to liven up a record with which a majority of the songs have a very dark and sinister undertone. It was recorded in a separate session with James Guthrie, as Dennis MacKay had moved on to other projects and was no longer available. The band was reportedly impressed with the production Guthrie did on "Better by You, Better than Me", as it stood out in comparison to the overly thin, flat sound that had plagued their albums up to this point; they would ask him to produce their next album, Killing Machine .

<i>Killing Machine</i> 1978 studio album by Judas Priest

Killing Machine is the fifth studio album by British heavy metal band Judas Priest. With its release in October 1978, the album pushed the band towards a more commercial style; however, it still contained the dark lyrical themes of their previous albums. At about the same time, the band members adopted their now-famous "leather-and-studs" fashion image, inspired by Rob Halford's interest in gay leather culture. It is the band's last studio album to feature drummer Les Binks.


Rob Halford English rock singer

Robert John Arthur Halford is an English singer and songwriter. He is best known as the lead vocalist of the Grammy Award-winning heavy metal band Judas Priest. He is famous for his powerful wide-ranging voice and his trademark leather-and-studs image, both of which became iconic in heavy metal. In addition to his work with Judas Priest, he has been involved with several side projects, including Fight, Two, and Halford.

The lead vocalist in popular music is typically the member of a group or band whose voice is the most prominent in a performance where multiple voices may be heard. The lead singer either leads the vocal ensemble, or sets against the ensemble as the dominant sound. In vocal group performances, notably in soul and gospel music, and early rock and roll, the lead singer takes the main vocal part, with a chorus provided by other band members as backing vocalists.

K. K. Downing British musician

Kenneth "K. K." Downing Jr. is a British musician, co-founder of the heavy metal band Judas Priest, and an author.

1990 trial

In the middle of 1990, Judas Priest were involved in a civil action that alleged they were responsible for the 1985 suicide attempts of 20-year-old James Vance and 18-year-old Ray Belknap in Reno, Nevada, US. [1] On 23 December 1985 Vance and Belknap became intoxicated before going to a playground at a Lutheran church in Reno. Belknap placed a 12 gauge shotgun under his own chin and proceeded to shoot the weapon, dying instantly. Vance followed, but survived the self-inflicted gunshot wound with a severely disfigured face. He died three years later after an overdose of methadone administered by hospital staff. [2]

Reno, Nevada City in Nevada, United States

Reno is a city in the northwest section of the U.S. state of Nevada, approximately 22 miles (35 km) from Lake Tahoe. Known as "The Biggest Little City in the World", Reno is known for its casino industry. Reno is the county seat of Washoe County. The city sits in a high desert river valley at the foot of the Sierra Nevada and its downtown area occupies a valley informally known as the Truckee Meadows. The city is named after Union Major General Jesse L. Reno, who was killed in action during the American Civil War at the Battle of South Mountain on Fox's Gap.

Vance's parents and their legal team, headed by Nevada attorney Ken McKenna, subsequently alleged that a subliminal message of "do it" had been included in the song. They alleged the command in the song triggered the suicide attempt. [1] The three-week trial was watched closely by the music industry and constitutional lawyers. [3] In a pre-trial motion, the judge ruled that subliminal messages were incapable of being protected speech under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, since they were by definition not noticeable and thus could not form part of a dialogue. Timothy Moore, who testified on Judas Priest's behalf, stated that the plaintiffs (led by McKenna) achieved "a major victory in getting the case to trial in the first place;" [1] The case was dismissed, with the finding that any subliminal messages within the recording, should they actually exist, were not responsible for the suicides. The lawsuit cost the band approximately $250,000 in legal costs and the judge ordered CBS to pay $40,000 to the prosecution, since the label did not provide master tapes of Stained Class to Vance’s lawyers. [4]

One of the defense witnesses, Dr Timothy E. Moore, later chronicled the trial in an article for Skeptical Inquirer magazine. [1] The trial was also the subject of a 1991 documentary entitled Dream Deceivers: The Story Behind James Vance vs. Judas Priest. [5] In the documentary, Judas Priest vocalist Rob Halford commented that if the band were so inclined to insert subliminal commands into their music, messages commanding their fans to kill themselves would be quite counterproductive; from the band's perspective it would be much more practical to insert the command "buy more of our records". Regarding the plaintiffs' assertions that the statement "do it" was a command to commit suicide, Halford pointed out that the phrase "do it" had no direct message to do anything in particular.

Comedian Bill Hicks referred to the case in his stand-up routines, asking "What performer wants his audience dead?" He performed a sketch mimicking Judas Priest being sick of their wealth, power, and fame and coming up with the subliminal message as a solution to their problems. [6] Comedian Denis Leary also commented on the trial on his album No Cure for Cancer , saying heavy metal bands should put more subliminal messages in their records: "Kill the band, kill your parents, then yourself".

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  1. 1 2 3 4 Moore, Timothy (November – December 1996). "Scientific Consensus and Expert Testimony: Lessons from the Judas Priest Trial". Skeptical Inquirer . Retrieved 18 November 2006.
  2. Cooper, Candy (1 July 2005). "The Judas Priest Trial: 15 Years Later". Archived from the original on 1 October 2007. Retrieved 18 November 2006.
  3. Moore, Timothy E. (1996). "Scientific consensus and expert testimony: lessons from the Judas Priest trial". Skeptical Inquirer . Archived from the original on 6 February 2008.
  5. "Dream Deceivers: The Story Behind James Vance Vs. Judas Priest".
  6. Hicks, Bill; Lahr, John (2004). Love All the People: Letters, Lyrics, Routines. Constable & Robinson. ISBN   1-84119-878-1 . Retrieved 20 April 2015.