Rocka Rolla

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Rocka Rolla
Rocka Rolla (Judas Priest album).jpg
Studio album by
Released6 September 1974 (1974-09-06)
RecordedJune – July 1974
Studio Island, Trident and Olympic Studios, London, England
Genre Hard rock, blues rock, psychedelic rock
Length38:49 (original)
42:12 (with bonus track)
Label Gull
Producer Rodger Bain
Judas Priest chronology
Rocka Rolla
Sad Wings of Destiny
Reissue cover
Singles from Rocka Rolla
  1. "Rocka Rolla"
    Released: August 1974

Rocka Rolla is the debut studio album by British heavy metal band Judas Priest, released on 6 September 1974 by Gull Records. It was produced by Rodger Bain, who had made a name for himself as the producer of Black Sabbath's first three albums. It is the only album to feature drummer John Hinch.

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.

Judas Priest British heavy metal band

Judas Priest are an English heavy metal band formed in West Bromwich in 1969. They have sold over 50 million copies of their albums. They are frequently ranked as one of the greatest metal bands of all time. Despite an innovative and pioneering body of work in the latter half of the 1970s, the band has struggled with indifferent record production and lack of major commercial success or attention until 1980, when they adopted a more simplified sound on the album British Steel.

Gull was a British record label founded in 1974. Owned by Gull Entertainments Ltd., it was associated with Morgan Sound Studio, and was distributed by both Pye Records and Decca Records. It was also distributed by Motown in the USA.



According to the band, the album was entirely played live, in studio (i.e. all musicians playing simultaneously as in a concert, vs. the more popular method of each musician's parts being recorded separately and then mixing them). [1]

According to the band there were technical problems in the studio, resulting in poor sound quality and a hiss through the album. Guitarist Glenn Tipton had just joined when recording of Rocka Rolla began and did not contribute any songwriting except on the title track and "Run of the Mill". He did come up with the songs "Tyrant", "Epitaph", and "Ripper", but Bain considered them not commercial enough and rejected them. Bain also rejected the concert staple "Whiskey Woman" which later, with contributions from Tipton, morphed into "Victim of Changes". These songs were eventually all included on their next album, Sad Wings of Destiny . In addition, "Winter", "Deep Freeze" and "Winter Retreat" form a suite, but are listed as separate tracks and divided as such on the CD release.

Glenn Tipton British musician

Glenn Raymond Tipton is an English Grammy Award-winning guitar player and songwriter. Often noted for his complex playing style and classically influenced solos, he is best known as one of the lead guitarists for heavy metal band Judas Priest.

<i>Sad Wings of Destiny</i> 1976 studio album by Judas Priest

Sad Wings of Destiny is the second studio album by the English heavy metal group Judas Priest, released in 1976. It is considered the album on which Judas Priest consolidated their sound and image, and songs from it such as "Victim of Changes" and "The Ripper" have since become live standards. It is the only album to feature drummer Alan Moore.

"Dying to Meet You" contains a clear break before an unlisted song (often known as "Hero Hero") begins. It may be possible that the record company insisted on there being ten tracks on the album and would not allow for one more. Alternatively, this unlisted song may simply be the second half of "Dying to Meet You", as this is how the lyrics were printed on their 1978 Best of... compilation.

<i>The Best of Judas Priest</i> 1978 greatest hits album by Judas Priest

The Best of Judas Priest is a collection of a few select songs from Judas Priest's first two albums, and was released under Gull, the band's former record label. It was the first of many reissues of the band's earlier material produced in an effort to "capitalize on Judas Priest's popularity" and was released without any consent from the band.

Several of the songs on the album feature contributions from the band's previous frontman Al Atkins and had been regular parts of their live performances in Manchester, where the band had achieved a cult following during the previous few years. The track "Caviar and Meths" was originally a 14-minute effort penned by Atkins, Downing, and Hill but due to time constraints, only the intro was recorded for the album. A longer version of the song appears on Atkins's 1998 album Victim of Changes . Though not the full-length version, it is notably longer at seven minutes. That album also contains covers of "Winter" and "Never Satisfied".

Allan John Atkins is an English heavy metal vocalist, best known for his association with Judas Priest.

Manchester City and metropolitan borough in England

Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England, with a population of 545,500 as of 2017. It lies within the United Kingdom's second-most populous urban area, with a population of 2.7 million, and third-most populous metropolitan area, with a population of 3.287 million. It is fringed by the Cheshire Plain to the south, the Pennines to the north and east, and an arc of towns with which it forms a continuous conurbation. The local authority for the city is Manchester City Council.

<i>Victim of Changes</i> (album) 1998 studio album by Al Atkins

Victim of Changes is ex-Judas Priest singer Al Atkins's fourth release, named after a Judas Priest song of the same name originally featured on the Sad Wings of Destiny album. The album's sleeve contains three pages of historic photos and a biography outlining his days in Judas Priest. Former Judas Priest drummer Dave Holland plays on this release.

At this point of the band's career, they had not yet developed their signature look of leather and studs. They had appeared on a British television programme called The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1975, performing "Rocka Rolla" and "Dreamer Deceiver", and their wardrobe was very "hippified" as journalist Malcolm Dome put it. This footage was included on the Electric Eye DVD. In addition, the album is more blues/hard rock oriented than their later releases, [2] and also has some slight progressive rock influences that would continue through to Stained Class , but to a lesser extent, and would be abandoned in later releases. This makes the album's style virtually unrecognizable when compared with later Priest albums, although "Rocka Rolla" does feature dual guitars and "Run of the Mill" is the first song that was explicitly designed for Halford's, rather than Atkins', vocal range.

Trademark look or signature look is the characteristic clothes or other distinguishing signs used by a certain character or performer, making the person more recognizable by the audience. Politicians may also have trademark signs, such as the suit of American President Barack Obama or the Merkel-Raute of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. It can also refer to the clothes of a certain subculture.

<i>The Old Grey Whistle Test</i> television program

The Old Grey Whistle Test was a British television music show.

Malcolm Dome is an English music journalist. He has written about rock and heavy metal since 1979. In addition to writing books, he has been a journalist for Record Mirror, Kerrang!, Metal Hammer and Classic Rock among others. Dome co-founded the UK's first rock radio station, TotalRock, along with Friday Rock Show DJ Tommy Vance and producer Tony Wilson. After 17 years with the station, Dome left in March 2014 to join Team Rock full-time.

Drummer John Hinch would be dismissed in 1975 before the next record was recorded. Tipton would later refer to him as being "musically inadequate" for the band's future plans.

Rob Halford made a brief explanation before performing "Never Satisfied" during the Epitaph Tour, as there were "a few blank stares" from the audience while performing the song. Rob Halford, explication de Never Satisfied, Montreal, 24-11-2011.jpg
Rob Halford made a brief explanation before performing "Never Satisfied" during the Epitaph Tour, as there were "a few blank stares" from the audience while performing the song.

The album was reissued in 1987 with a different cover. The original "bottle cap" album cover art was initially intended by designer John Pasche for use with an unspecified Rolling Stones album. The band had filed a lawsuit with the Coca-Cola company. [4] The re-issue cover art (by artist Melvyn Grant, and originally used as the cover for the novel The Steel Tsar ) was also used for the US cover of Ballistix for the TurboGrafx-16 and Commodore Amiga.[ citation needed ]

Most of the songs from Rocka Rolla have not been performed by Judas Priest live since the mid-late 1970s, although Halford's solo band performed "Never Satisfied" during live shows in 2003, and the same song was part of the setlist of the Epitaph World Tour.

The tour for Rocka Rolla was Judas Priest's first international tour [5] with dates in Germany, Holland, Norway and Denmark including one show at Hotel Klubben [6] in Tønsberg, one hour from Oslo, Norway which scored them a somewhat negative review in the local press. [7]


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic Star full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg [8]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music Star full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg [9]

The album was released to very little reception selling "only a few thousand copies". Because it flopped, the band found themselves in dire financial straits. In particular, they talked of nights in which they were starving and didn't know when they were going to get their next meal. They tried to enter into an agreement with Gull Records to pay them 50 pounds a week, but Gull, which was also suffering economic woes, refused. [10] In a retrospective review, AllMusic gave Rocka Rolla a rating of 2.5 out of five stars, and said that while it was a "sketchy and underfocused debut", the album "definitely hints at Judas Priest's potential and originality". [8]

Track listing

Side one
1."One for the Road" Rob Halford, K. K. Downing 4:34
2."Rocka Rolla"Halford, Downing, Glenn Tipton 3:05
3."Winter" Al Atkins, Downing, Ian Hill 1:41
4."Deep Freeze"Downing1:21
5."Winter Retreat"Halford, Downing3:28
6."Cheater"Halford, Downing2:59
Side two
7."Never Satisfied"Atkins, Downing4:50
8."Run of the Mill"Halford, Downing, Tipton8:34
9."Dying to Meet You/Hero, Hero"Halford, Downing6:23
10."Caviar and Meths" (Instrumental)Atkins, Downing, Hill2:02
1987 Remaster bonus track
11."Diamonds & Rust" (Joan Baez cover, 1975 recording)Joan Baez3:12

The original UK LP has a longer version of "Rocka Rolla" than the version used for the US LP release, and most CD releases. It has an extra verse and chorus at the beginning of the song.

The very rare first printing of the UK LP has the words "Thanks for the words Al!" printed last in the credits in the blue circle on the back cover. This, presumably a reference to original singer Al Atkins, has been removed on other versions of the Gull vinyl.

On some versions of the CD release, "Rocka Rolla" is timed at 4:00 and "Winter" at 0:45, becoming a mashup but remaining on separate tracks. Some releases, e.g. Hero, Hero also combine "Winter", "Deep Freeze" and "Winter Retreat" into one track. The iTunes version combines those three plus "Cheater" into one track.

The version of "Diamonds & Rust" that appears on the re-release is actually from the Sad Wings of Destiny sessions and not the version that appears on Sin After Sin . It was probably included to provide interest in Rocka Rolla, an album that would have been unknown to many of the band's fans due to the band not playing songs from it live after the 1970s.

Rocka Rolla features Judas Priest's longest track, "Run of the Mill", prior to "Cathedral Spires" from Jugulator in 1997. It is also the longest track co-written by Halford, Downing and Tipton prior to "Lochness" from Angel of Retribution in 2005.


Judas Priest

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<i>Hero, Hero</i> 1981 compilation album by Judas Priest

Hero, Hero is a compilation album of early Judas Priest recordings, released in between British Steel (1980) and Point of Entry (1981) by Gull Records. It consists of all ten tracks from the Rocka Rolla album, six tracks from the Sad Wings of Destiny album, and an alternate version of "Diamonds And Rust". The tracks from Rocka Rolla and "Diamonds And Rust" were remixed by Rodger Bain in 1981. The tracks from Sad Wings of Destiny were not remixed.

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"Rocka Rolla" is the debut single by British rock band Judas Priest, first released in August 1974, and later released as the title track of their first album the following month.

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"Run of the Mill" is a ballad by British rock band Judas Priest from their debut album Rocka Rolla. The song was the first written by guitarist K. K. Downing, soon after vocalist Rob Halford joined the band. Downing wrote it, in part, to display Halford's unique vocal range.

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  7. "Newspaper cutting : Lydsjokk pa Klubben". Archived from the original on 12 November 2013. Retrieved 19 May 2014.
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