By Bob Nalbandian


Judas Priest: Heavy Metal Painkillers (An Illustrated History)
Author: Martin Popoff
ECW Press

If there is to be a definitive book about Judas Priest, there's no question in my mind that it'd be Martin Popoff's latest literary masterpiece Judas Priest: Heavy Metal Painkillers. As I've said in the past, Martin is easily one of my favorite book authors when it comes to anything Metal. The painstaking detail he goes through in his books is commendable and always educational. I learn so much from reading Martin's books; in fact, his latest endeavor really opened my eyes particularly regarding the early days of Judas Priest. The first chapter, It was Chalk And Cheese, Really (The Early Years) had me completely captivated, surprisingly very little has been written or discussed about the original Judas Priest (which incidentally didn't feature a single member of the classic lineup - or any of the recorded lineups for that matter!). Sure we've all heard about original singer Al Atkins as he's often voiced his sentiment about the band but little did we know that the original Priest has been around since 1970 (the same year as Sabbath) hammering it out on the road supporting acts like Budgie, Status Quo, Thin Lizzy and Slade as well as covering songs from progressive bands like Qucksilver Messenger Service and Spirit. That for me was the most interesting chapter but the other 24 chapters were equally as intriguing. I love the way Popoff has an entire chapter devoted to each Priest album giving extensive detail about what the band was going through during the recording sessions as well as their feedback after each release. Popoff has compiled hundreds of quotes from the Priest bands members (including early members such as Atkins) as well as the producers and other musicians close to Priest from interviews that he's done throughout his many years as a rock/metal journalist. Obviously Martin wasn't actually there in Birmingham, England when the band first formed but you would never know as his first-hand accounts from the actual players and producers, along with stunning full-color photographs that are scattered throughout the pages (accordingly placed during that chapter era), really gives the reader a sense of actually being a part of the history of Judas Priest even at times giving you the sensation of actually sitting in on the recording process of each record. It's so honest and refreshing to read a book from an author nowadays whose soul purpose isn't to simply cash in on the heavy metal trend. I mean, let's face it, how hard is it to write a book these days when you have all the information and research you need right at your fingertips via the Internet by simply typing in a Google or Wikipedia search. The fact is, Martin knows his metal probably more than anyone I know and I love the fact that he's never afraid to voice his opinion (for proof, just take a listen to my last Shockwaves/HardRadio Podcast #29 with Martin, Monte Conner and myself discussing the Priest catalog). For more information on Martin Popoff and to purchase any of his books you can visit his website at:

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