Stained Class

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Stained Class
Studio album by Judas Priest
Released February 10, 1978
Recorded October–November 1977, Chipping Norton Recording Studios, Oxfordshire and Utopia Studios, London (track 3)
Genre Heavy metal[1]
Length 43:40
Label CBS, Inc. (UK)
Columbia Records (US)
Producer Dennis Mackay, Judas Priest, James Guthrie (track 3)
Judas Priest chronology
Sin After Sin
(1977)
Stained Class
(1978)
Killing Machine
(1978)

Stained Class is the fourth album by British heavy metal group Judas Priest, released in February 1978.

Overview[edit]

Stained Class is the only Judas Priest album to feature songwriting by all five members of the band, however it was at this point where Glenn Tipton became the band's primary lead guitarist and would mostly share songwriting duties with Rob Halford from thenceforth. K.K. Downing's only standalone performance in Stained Class is on Savage and the rest of the album either features exclusively Tipton's playing or else duets by the two. Newly added drummer Les Binks earned a songwriting credit on Beyond The Realms Of Death for composing the acoustic intro.

The sleeve artwork, by Rosław Szaybo at CBS Records, introduced the now-classic Judas Priest logo, replacing the Gothic Script logo which appeared on all of the band's prior albums. Stained Class was the first Judas Priest album to dent the Billboard 200 chart and was eventually certified gold in the U.S.

Dennis MacKay was brought in by CBS Records to produce the album - his résumé at the time consisted mainly of jazz fusion artists, plus David Bowie, Supertramp, and others. He set himself to the task of cleaning up the band's unwieldy songwriting style and making their material shorter, tighter, and more direct. The recording sessions for Stained Class took place in October–November 1977 at Chipping Norton Recording Studios in London.

The album was the heaviest the band had released up to that point, with the lyrics often dark and violent, with only slight instances of progressive rock. Hereafter, the progressive rock that characterized the band's first few albums would be completely eliminated and Judas Priest completely embraced heavy metal as their sound.

"Beyond The Realms Of Death" was the only song from Stained Class to become a live staple, with 472 performances through 2012. The title track has been played just twice, in 1978 and 2005, and Exciter disappeared from 1979 until 2005. White Heat, Red Hot was frequently played in 1978-1980 but never since then and Invader, Saints In Hell, and Heroes' End have never been played live. The notorious (see below) Better By You, Better Than Me was played only 11 times, and the obscure "Savage" around five times in early 1978.

The album was remastered in 2001, with two bonus tracks added.

Controversy surrounding "Better by You, Better Than Me"[edit]

Several years after its release Stained Class was the subject of negative attention due to the infamous 1990 civil action brought against the band by the family of a teenager, James Vance, who entered into a suicide pact with his friend Ray Belknap after allegedly listening to "Better by You, Better Than Me" on December 23, 1985. Belknap succeeded in killing himself, and Vance was left critically injured after surviving a self-inflicted gunshot to the facial area.

The suit alleged that Judas Priest recorded subliminal messages on the song that said "do it." The suit was eventually dismissed. The song was originally written and performed by the band Spooky Tooth. "Better By You, Better Than Me" 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 a different producer (James Guthrie) than the rest of the album, 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, and they would ask him to produce their next album, Killing Machine.

Three weeks after the lawsuit wrapped up, the band kicked off their Painkiller Tour by playing Better By You, Better Than Me on the first concert in Burbank, California on September 13. It is Judas Priest's only live performance of the song after 1979.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[2]

In 2005, Stained Class was ranked number 307 in Rock Hard magazine's book of The 500 Greatest Rock & Metal Albums of All Time.[3] The album is widely considered to be highly influential in the speed metal and thrash metal genres. It has also been viewed as an early indication of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement.

Although Stained Class was well received in the UK and nearly matched the sales of Sin After Sin, it barely scraped the Billboard 200 in the United States, a result attributed to the difficulty American audiences (who were used to bands like Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, and Kiss) had digesting Judas Priest's dark music which had little in the way of conventional rock themes. The band was also still comparatively unknown in the US at the time, being only on their second tour there.

Track listing[edit]

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Exciter"   Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton 5:34
2. "White Heat, Red Hot"   Tipton 4:20
3. "Better by You, Better Than Me" (Spooky Tooth cover) Gary Wright 3:24
4. "Stained Class"   Halford, Tipton 5:19
5. "Invader"   Halford, Tipton, Ian Hill 4:12
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
6. "Saints in Hell"   Halford, K.K. Downing, Tipton 5:30
7. "Savage"   Halford, Downing 3:27
8. "Beyond the Realms of Death"   Halford, Les Binks 6:53
9. "Heroes End"   Tipton 5:01

Personnel[edit]

Judas Priest
Production

Charts[edit]

Chart (1978) Position
Billboard Pop Albums 104

Sales and certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
United States (RIAA)[4] Gold 500,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

References[edit]

  1. ^ Stained Class at CD Universe. Accessed November 29, 2011.
  2. ^ Stained Class at Allmusic. Accessed November 29, 2011.
  3. ^ [...], Rock Hard (Hrsg.). [Red.: Michael Rensen. Mitarb.: Götz Kühnemund] (2005). Best of Rock & Metal die 500 stärksten Scheiben aller Zeiten. Königswinter: Heel. p. 89. ISBN 3-89880-517-4. 
  4. ^ "American album certifications – Judas Priest – Point of Entry". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH

External links[edit]