Studio album by Judas Priest
Released September 6, 1974
Recorded June-July 1974
Genre Heavy metal
Label Gull Records
Producer Rodger Bain
Rocka Rolla is the debut album by the British heavy metal group Judas Priest,
released in 1974. It was produced by Rodger Bain, who had made a name for
himself as the producer of Black Sabbath's first three albums.
According to the band there were technical problems in the studio, resulting in
poor sound quality and a hiss through the album. The band further claims that
the producer had too much control over track selection, and omitted their more
popular stage classics. These songs were eventually included on their next
album. Many of the songs were written before Rob Halford joined the band. The
track "Caviar and Meths" was originally a 14-minute epic penned by Halford's
predecessor, Al Atkins, but due to time constraints, only the intro is recorded
for the album. A longer version of the song appears on original vocalist Al
Atkins's 1998 album Victim of Changes. Though not the full-length version, it is
notably longer at seven minutes. The album also contains covers of the songs
"Winter" and "Never Satisfied".
At this point of the band's career, they had not yet developed their signature
look of leather and studs. They had appeared on a British television programme
called The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1975, and their wardrobe was very
"hippified" as journalist Malcolm Dome put it. In addition, the album has some
slight progressive rock influences that would be abandoned in later releases.
Drummer John Hinch would be dismissed in 1975, before the next record was to
begin being recorded, for what Glenn Tipton would later call him being
The album was reissued in 1987 with a different cover. Reportedly the band was
unhappy with the original cover art and logo, as it didn't fit with their image
as a heavy metal band. There are also rumours that the Coca Cola Company brought
legal pressure because the original album art too closely resembled their most
famous brand. The re-issue cover art was used for the US cover of Ballistix for
the Turbo Grafx 16 and Commodore Amiga.
Since the album was released during the period when K.K. Downing was the band's
frontman, this remains the only album on which he is the primary songwriter. On
future albums, songs were usually written by Halford, Downing and Tipton, most
songs being written by either two or all three of them. After 1978's Killing
Machine, the songs on every album were credited to all three of them (the only
song after that credited to Halford and Tipton was "Thunder Road", a bonus track
on 1981's Point of Entry). After Halford left the band in 1993, the songs on the
band's next album, Jugulator, were all credited to Downing and Tipton. The
band's last release before Halford rejoined the band (thereby recreating the
Halford-Downing-Tipton songwriting team) was 2001's Demolition, the only album
to feature Tipton as the primary songwriter. "Deep Freeze" remains the only song
released on a Judas Priest album credited solely to Downing.
All songs written by Rob Halford and K.K. Downing, except where noted.