British Steel (album)

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British Steel
Judas Priest British Steel.jpg
Studio album by Judas Priest
Released 14 April 1980
Recorded January–February 1980 at Startling Studios, Ascot, England; United Kingdom
Genre Heavy metal
Length 36:10
Label Columbia
Producer Tom Allom
Judas Priest chronology
Unleashed in the East
British Steel
Point of Entry
Alternative cover
30th Anniversary CD-Release.
30th Anniversary CD-Release.

British Steel is the sixth studio album by the British heavy metal band Judas Priest, released on 14 April 1980. It is also the band's first album with Dave Holland on drums.


British Steel saw the band reprise the commercial sound they had established on Killing Machine. This time, they abandoned some of the dark lyrical themes which had been prominent on their previous releases, but some of it still remains. In a June 2017 appearance on Sirius radio podcast "Rolling Stone Music Now,"[1] Rob Halford said the band may have been inspired by AC/DC on some tracks after supporting them on a European tour in 1979.[2] British Steel was recorded at Tittenhurst Park, home of former Beatle Ringo Starr, a recording studio located on Tittenhurst's grounds, after a false start at Startling Studios in December 1979. Digital sampling was not yet widely available at the time of recording, so the band used analog recording of smashing milk bottles to be included in "Breaking the Law", as well as various sounds in "Metal Gods" produced by billiard cues and trays of cutlery.[3] It is the first Judas Priest album to feature drummer Dave Holland, and it was released in the UK at a discount price of £3.99, with the advertisements in the music press bearing the legend "British Steal". The songs "Breaking the Law", "United", and "Living After Midnight" were released as singles.[3]

The album was remastered in 2001 with two bonus tracks added. Bonus studio track "Red, White, and Blue" was written in the sessions for the Twin Turbos album (which would become Turbo) and recorded at Compass Point Studios in Nassau in July 1985.[3] The second bonus track, a live performance of "Grinder", was recorded on 5 May 1984, in Los Angeles during the Defenders of the Faith tour.

In 2009, Judas Priest kicked off their 30th anniversary tour in the US by playing British Steel live in its entirety for the first time. The only other Judas Priest albums of which all the songs have been performed live are Defenders of the Faith and Rocka Rolla, but neither of them were played in the original LP running order or during the same tour (though the original US debut LP had a different running order than the UK version).

The 30th anniversary release of the album came with a DVD and CD of a live show recorded on 17 August 2009 at the Seminole Hard Rock Arena in Hollywood, Florida as part of the British Steel 30th Anniversary tour.[4] The live versions of all the British Steel tracks from this release were also made available as downloadable content for the Rock Band video game series beginning 11 May 2010.[5]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
About.com5/5 stars (30th anniv. edition)[6]
AllMusic5/5 stars[7]
BBC Music(favourable) (30th anniv. edition)[8]
PopMatters8/10 (30th anniv. edition)[9]
Rolling Stone(favourable)[10]

The album received positive reviews. AllMusic gave the album five stars out of five, explaining that the album "kick-started heavy metal's glory days of the 1980s", and mentioning that "There are still uptempo slices of metallic mayhem bookending the album in 'Rapid Fire' and 'Steeler,' plus effective moodier pieces in 'Metal Gods'...."[11] Sputnikmusic awarded the album only a 2 out of 5 rating, stating "British Steel starts off quite well with 'Breaking the Law'," mentioning that "The song is simple and short in structure," but then went on to say that "Musically, the band does not really do all that all."[12]

Rolling Stone and BBC Music rated the album favourably, and PopMatters gave the album an 8 out of 10 rating. In 2017, it was ranked 3rd on Rolling Stone's list of "100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time".[13] The album was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[14]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Glenn Tipton, Rob Halford and K.K. Downing.

Side one
1."Rapid Fire" (Track 2 on original US releases)4:08
2."Metal Gods" (Track 3 on original US releases)4:00
3."Breaking the Law" (Track 1 on original US releases)2:35
Side two
6."You Don't Have to Be Old to Be Wise" (Track 7 on original US releases)5:04
7."Living After Midnight" (Track 6 on original US releases)3:31
8."The Rage"4:44

30th Anniversary Edition - bonus live CD/DVD[edit]

All tracks written by Glenn Tipton, Rob Halford and K.K. Downing except where noted.

1."Rapid Fire"4:18
2."Metal Gods"4:34
3."Breaking the Law"2:43
6."You Don't Have to Be Old to Be Wise"5:24
7."Living After Midnight"4:53
8."The Rage"5:04
10."The Ripper" (Tipton)3:09
11."Prophecy" (DVD and iTunes version only)6:12
12."Hell Patrol"3:57
13."Victim of Changes" (Al Atkins, Downing, Halford, Tipton)9:29
14."Freewheel Burning"5:49
15."Diamonds & Rust" (Joan Baez)4:07
16."You've Got Another Thing Coming"8:58


Judas Priest


Chart (1980–2010) Peak
Finnish Albums (Suomen virallinen lista)[15] 46
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[16] 59
Greek Albums (IFPI)[17] 4
Spanish Albums (PROMUSICAE)[18] 55
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[19] 20
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[20] 92
UK Albums (OCC)[21] 4
US Billboard 200[22] 34

SinglesBPI (UK)

Chart (1980) Name Position
UK Singles Chart «Breaking the Law»[23] 12
«Living After Midnight»[24] 12
«United»[25] 26


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Canada (Music Canada)[26] Gold 50,000^
Sweden (GLF)[27] Gold 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[28] Silver 60,000^
United States (RIAA)[29] Platinum 1,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ "JUDAS PRIEST's ROB HALFORD Discusses 'Greatest Metal Albums Of All Time' On 'Rolling Stone Music Now' Podcast". 28 June 2017. 
  2. ^ "JUDAS PRIEST Guitarist K.K Downing - "The Tour With AC/DC Was One Of My Most Cherished Memories"". 
  3. ^ a b c British Steel (remastered edition) (Media notes). Judas Priest. Sony Music Entertainment. 1980. 
  4. ^ "Judas Priest Store". 17 August 2009. Archived from the original on 17 April 2010. Retrieved 2011-07-27. 
  5. ^ "DLC Week of 5/11 - Judas Priest's British Steel (Live)! // Rock Band®". Archived from the original on 5 October 2012. Retrieved 2011-07-27. 
  6. ^ Bowar, Chad. "Judas Priest - 'British Steel: 30th Anniversary Edition'". Retrieved 2012-05-05. 
  7. ^ "British Steel review". AllMusic. 
  8. ^ Doran, John (6 May 2010). "Review of Judas Priest - British Steel: 30th Anniversary Edition". BBC Online. Retrieved 2012-05-05. 
  9. ^ Begrand, Adrien (28 May 2010). "Judas Priest: British Steel: 30th Anniversary Edition". PopMatters. Retrieved 2012-05-05. 
  10. ^ "Rolling Stone review of British Steel". Rolling Stone. 2 October 1980. Archived from the original on 1 January 2009. 
  11. ^ Huey, Steve. "Judas Priest - British Steel". AllMusic. Retrieved 1 September 2017. 
  12. ^ Stagno, Mike. "Judas Priest - British Steel". Sputnik Music. Retrieved 1 September 2017. 
  13. ^ Considine, J. D. (21 June 2017). "100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media LLC. Retrieved 22 June 2017. 
  14. ^ Robert Dimery; Michael Lydon (7 February 2006). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN 0-7893-1371-5. 
  15. ^ "Judas Priest: British Steel" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  16. ^ " – Judas Priest – British Steel". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  17. ^ " – Judas Priest – British Steel". Hung Medien. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  18. ^ " – Judas Priest – British Steel". Hung Medien. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  19. ^ " – Judas Priest – British Steel". Hung Medien. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  20. ^ " – Judas Priest – British Steel". Hung Medien. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  21. ^ "Judas Priest | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  22. ^ "Judas Priest Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  23. ^ "breaking+the+law | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". 
  24. ^ "living+after+midnight | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". 
  25. ^ "united | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". 
  26. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Judas Priest – British Steel". Music Canada. 
  27. ^ "Guld- och Platinacertifikat − År 1987−1998" (PDF) (in Swedish). IFPI Sweden. 
  28. ^ "British album certifications – Judas Priest – British Steel". British Phonographic Industry.  Select albums in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Enter British Steel in the search field and then press Enter.
  29. ^ "American album certifications – Judas Priest – British Steel". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH.