Released: April 14, 1986
Singles: “Turbo Lover”, “Locked In”, “Parental Guidance”
Certified: Platinum (RIAA)
“Rock You All Around the World”
“Out in the Cold”
“Wild Nights, Hot & Crazy Days”
“Hot for Love”
“Turbo” has always been one of the most unjustly criticized metal albums of all time. Judas Priest lost a significant number of fans after the release of this record due to the band’s shift to more commercial and synthesizer-driven sound. It was the mid-80s, after all, and the whole rock music industry was undergoing a change – the catchy tunes by all the numerous glam/pop metal and rock bands were ruling the charts and the airwaves, so to some extend it was pretty understandable for any rock band to try and cash in. However, as melodic, radio-friendly and much different as Turbo sounds, compared to Judas Priest’s previous albums, I do believe that there is so much more to this record – “Turbo” never was just about the money and it did rock pretty hard. Yes, it might have been a bit unusual to listen to Judas Priest singing cheesy lyrics about romance or hearing how much they rely so on the sleek synth-production and the electronic drums; however, they did manage to find a balance and in my opinion, released quite the classic.
The synthesizer-driven opening track – “Turbo Lover” can easily be pointed out as one of the most essential Judas Priest tracks and ultimately, the finest moment of the album. By finest, I don’t necessarily mean that it impresses with brilliant music craftsmanship, beautiful lyrics or any other significant value. I simply claim that it’s a song with a different purpose which we cannot just overlook. It has that special aura and uplifting spirit that immediately activates your imagination and empowers you. “Locked In” might be too commercial and the synthesizers are definitely a bit difficult to digest but we cannot deny how catchy and mood-charging it sounds. “Private Property” is a very rhythmic, familiar and yet another money-making track. As we go from one song to another, you could easily feel the loss of confidence and the good impression starts to fade away. The rest of the album is filled with mid-tempo and well-polished merchandized rockers. “Out in the Cold” might be Judas Priest’s most excellent attempt at power- ballads and it’s a definite must-listen.
Overall, as hated as it is, “Turbo” is a very important chapter of Judas Priest’s career, though quite misunderstood. I believe the reason why so many people were disappointed in this album was because the band lost a huge chunk of their identity by diving into the commercialized mid-80s glam metal music scene. Yes, they might have done that and indeed some of the tracks on “Turbo” do sound a bit awkward and with no clear focus. However, it’s Judas Priest we’re talking about – whatever they do they sure know how to rock hard. It took them a few years to get back on the metal radar, but to the average rock fan, “Turbo” can be quite enjoyable.
Out in the Cold