Sin After Sin
|Sin After Sin|
|Studio album by Judas Priest|
|Released||8 April 1977|
|Recorded||January 1977, Ramport Studios, Battersea|
CBS, Inc. (UK)|
Columbia Records (US)
|Producer||Roger Glover, Judas Priest|
|Judas Priest chronology|
|Singles from Sin After Sin|
The album represented several major milestones in the group's career; the band made their major label debut and were able to work with a famous musical artist as their producer, former Deep Purple member Roger Glover. The band also fully embraced an aggressive metal sound with this release, significantly toning down the arena rock and blues rock influences shown in their past work, and the group achieved widespread popularity on the radio stations for their first time, oddly enough with their hard-edged version of Joan Baez's song "Diamonds & Rust".
Judas Priest formed in 1969 in industrial West Bromwich, Birmingham. By the time they released their first album Rocka Rolla in 1974, there had been many lineup changes. The band had consisted of Downing, Hill, Moore, and frontman Al Atkins and played a more blues rock-inspired sound before Atkins was replaced by Rob Halford and guitarist Glenn Tipton, who was recruited from the band Shave 'Em Dry after becoming intrigued with the possibility of a dual lead guitar sound. Finances were tight: the record label Gull provided a recording budget of £2000 for each of the band's first two albums. During the recording of their second album Sad Wings of Destiny (1976), the band members restricted themselves to one meal a day, and several took on part-time work: Tipton as a gardener, Downing in a factory, and Hill driving a delivery van.
The band grew dissatisfied with lack of financial support from Gull. Sad Wings of Destiny caught the attention of CBS Records, and with the help of new manager David Hemmings, the band signed with CBS and received a £60,000 budget for their next album, which was to draw its title phrase "sin after sin" from the lyrics to "Genocide" on Sad Wings. The signing required breaking their contract with Gull, resulting in the rights to the first two albums and all related recordings—including demos—becoming property of Gull.
Rehearsals took place at Pinewood Studios in London and recording in January 1977 at The Who's Rampart Studios in the Battersea district. Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover produced the album and Mark Dodson was engineer.
After negative experiences with Gull Records (particularly the mixing of Rocka Rolla), the band decided they would rather produce the album themselves, but the label wanted a professional producer and had the sessions restarted. The band agreed to Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover, but after one session the band informed Glover they would rather produce themselves. After a few weeks of unsatisfactory recordings the band recalled Glover and began the sessions over, with only six allotted days remaining. By this point the band had replaced drummer Alan Moore with Simon Phillips, considering Moore's technique too limited for their sound.
The album includes a cover of Joan Baez' "Diamonds & Rust", a decision which was encouraged by producer Roger Glover in the interest of adding a more commercial track. It was the first song by Judas Priest to get any radio play, and Baez herself reportedly enjoyed the cover. This was the band's second attempt to cover the track, and the earlier version from the Gull Records era was only released later on compilations and as a bonus track on reissues of Rocka Rolla.
Because Phillips had commitments to another band, he declined to join Judas Priest as a permanent member, and so for the album tour, they hired Fancy drummer Les Binks, an acquaintance of Roger Glover, as Binks was able to play double bass, and was one of the few drummers who could replicate Phillips' sound live.
Judas Priest embarked on their first-ever tour of the US for this album, where they supported REO Speedwagon and Foreigner. Judas Priest also opened for Led Zeppelin on two dates in Oakland, the Day on the Green festival, and opened the 1977 Superjam, headlined by REO Speedwagon and Ted Nugent, at Busch Memorial Stadium in St Louis before an audience of 45,000.
The progressive rock influences from the previous two albums were toned down on this album; however, these influences are still evident, as in the multi-sectioned "Sinner" and "Let Us Prey/Call for the Priest", the complex lyrics, and in the Gothic ballads "Last Rose of Summer" and "Here Come the Tears". These influences would further dissipate in their next album Stained Class before being completely abandoned afterward.
As the band continued to develop their sound and playing techniques, Sin After Sin displayed elements of speed metal on "Let Us Prey/Call For The Priest" and Proto thrash metal on "Dissident Aggressor", both vying for the heaviest rock songs released up to that point. "Starbreaker" introduced what was soon to become a familiar element of the band's sound--an interweaved Tipton/Downing lead break (although Priest would use this trick a number of other times on subsequent albums, it proved difficult to execute live).
Of the eight tracks on Sin After Sin, only "Sinner" became a concert staple (K. K. Downing describes it as one of his favourite songs), along with "Diamonds & Rust", and both were regularly played live until the Turbo Fuel for Life Tour in 1986 when all pre-Killing Machine songs were dropped from the setlist ("Victim of Changes" made a return in place of "Hot for Love" or "Desert Plains" on some legs of that tour). "Sinner" was revived during the Mercenaries of Metal Tour two years later before disappearing again until the 2008 Nostradamus World Tour, then was revived again on the Firepower World Tour in 2018. "Starbreaker" (as noted above, the lead break was hard to perform live) was dropped from the set in the middle of the British Steel Tour, and was not played again until the 2011–12 Epitaph World Tour. "Raw Deal" was performed only twice during 1977, "Let Us Prey/Call For The Priest" only seven times in 1977 and January 1978, and "Dissident Aggressor" was only played live a few times in 1977 and 1978, and was not played live again until 2008, when it became a regular part of the setlist on the Nostradamus World Tour. “Here Come The Tears” was only played twice in 1977, and "Last Rose Of Summer" has never been performed live according to available sources, although documentation of earlier Priest tour setlists is very poor.
Sin After Sin reached #23 UK Albums Chart, but did not attract a great deal of sales or attention in the US and the band initially found their music to be a difficult sell to American audiences. At home, they also faced a hostile reception or were ignored by a music press strongly focused on punk rock. It is also the earliest of eleven consecutive Judas Priest albums to be certified gold or more by the RIAA. The faster, more technical playing on the album versus established bands like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath made Judas Priest well positioned to compete with the mushrooming punk rock movement in their home country.
Reception and legacy
Sin After Sin introduced the combination of the double bass drum and rapid sixteenth-note bass rhythms combined with rapid sixteenth-note guitar rhythms that came to define heavy metal, especially thrash. While the double-bass rhythms from Judas Priest are generally measured and technical, "Dissident Aggressor" on this album pushed this to be an example of the style with an increase in "tempo and aggression" which was later adopted by other bands such as Motörhead with a much harder-edged approach.
Arch Enemy covered "Starbreaker", which was eventually released on a bonus disc with their Wages of Sin album. "This track was never intended for Century Media's Judas Priest tribute album", wrote guitarist Michael Amott in the Wages of Sin liner notes. "Originally we got a request from the label in Japan to record a cover – any cover for some sort of compilation they were planning. We decided to try out another studio in 1998 and our choice fell on a local facility where Daniel had worked with his previous band, Eucharist. The recording turned out really cool: the best out of the three covers we've done, in my opinion. The Japanese compilation never materialized and [this] was never released – until now that is."
Sin After Sin was Priest’s last album to feature their original "gothic cursive font" logo, though it was used on later Gull Records reissues of their earlier material.
This was the first (in order of release) of Judas Priest’s main albums to be remastered in 2001, which included all of the albums between this and their 1990 Painkiller album. The remaster corrected an error in the track listing; "Call for the Priest", which forms one track with "Let Us Prey", had erroneously been listed as forming one track with "Raw Deal" until then.
|1.||"Sinner"||Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton||6:45|
|2.||"Diamonds & Rust"||Joan Baez||3:28|
|3.||"Starbreaker"||Halford, K. K. Downing, Tipton||4:49|
|4.||"Last Rose of Summer"||Halford, Tipton||5:37|
|5.||"Let Us Prey/Call For The Priest"||Halford, Downing, Tipton||6:12|
|6.||"Raw Deal"||Halford, Tipton||6:00|
|7.||"Here Come the Tears"||Halford, Tipton||4:36|
|8.||"Dissident Aggressor"||Halford, Downing, Tipton||3:07|
|2001 bonus tracks|
|9.||"Race with the Devil" (The Gun cover, recorded during the Stained Class sessions)||Adrian Gurvitz||3:06|
|10.||"Jawbreaker" (Live at Long Beach Arena, Long Beach, California; 5 May 1984)||Halford, Downing, Tipton||4:02|
- Additional Musicians
- Simon Phillips - drums
- Produced by Roger Glover and Judas Priest
- Engineered by Mark Dodson
- Art direction by Rosław Szaybo
- Design and photography by Bob Carlos Clarke
Sales and certifications
|United States (RIAA)||Gold||500,000^|
^shipments figures based on certification alone
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