In 1986, Judas Priest intended to release a double album entitled Twin Turbos of which half would consist of melodic, more commercial hard rock, and the other half would be heavier and less synth-driven. Columbia Records was resistant to the double album concept, and the project was ultimately split into two separate releases, 1986's platinum selling Turbo, and Ram It Down. At least three songs – "Hard As Iron", "Love you to Death" and "Monsters of Rock" were written for the Twin Turbos project. The title track "Ram It Down" can be traced even further back. As Rob Halford noted, "'Ram It Down' is a harder song, from the British Steel time." It also could have roots as far back as the demo version of "On the Run" from Point of Entry which had "different lyrics, speed-metal pace, and spit-fire fast vocals"
Drummer Dave Holland experienced health problems during recording, and the band elected to utilise a drum machine on much of the album rather than bring in another drummer. Ram It Down would be the final Judas Priest album recorded with long-time drummer Holland, as well as producer Tom Allom. Allom would later return as co-producer to the 2009 live release A Touch of Evil: Live.
The band recorded a rendition of Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode", intended for inclusion on the soundtrack for the 1988 Anthony Michael Hall comedy film Johnny Be Good; the song found its way onto Ram It Down and was the album's first single. It was also played during the first few concerts of the band´s 1988 tour along with the title track and three other songs from the album. The only "Ram it Down" songs to have been played on later tours are "I'm a Rocker" during the Retribution Tour and "Blood Red Skies" during the Epitaph World Tour.
Originally, the song "Thunder Road" was to be put on the album. However, after the album producers were asked to do the cover of "Johnny B. Goode", "Thunder Road" was replaced. Some of the parts from the song made it into the cover of "Johnny B. Goode", and one of the lyric lines appeared in "I'm a Rocker". The original was placed on 2001 remaster of Point of Entry.
An unknown song was recorded for inclusion on the album but the tape was lost during a chaotic period which resulted from Halford's decision to leave the band following the group's next album, Painkiller, and Tim "Ripper" Owens' hiring as his replacement. For this reason Ram It Down is the only remastered Judas Priest disc with no added bonus studio tracks, just two added live tracks.
The song "Blood Red Skies" was released as a promo only single with a 4.51 radio edit, the album version and a 10.33 extended remix.
The band recorded three tracks with pop producers Stock-Aitken-Waterman – two originals "Runaround" and "I Will Return" and a cover of The Stylistics hit "You Are Everything". However, they were ultimately not included on this album due to a management decision. Pete Waterman calls them "probably the best tracks we ever did" and admits that "I occasionally dig the record out and play it to people, and they’re amazed that we made heavy metal.”. Around this time, Glenn Tipton also recorded guitar solos for songs by another Stock-Aitken-Waterman produced artist, Samantha Fox, and was officially credited on the track "Spirit of America".