The Essential Rob Halford
There are very few absolutes in rock and roll. Okay, actually there are NO absolutes in rock and roll. Well, maybe one – any self-respecting metal aficionado (old or Nü) who’s worth his or her weight in leather and studs recognizes without question that Rob Halford is THE Godfather of Metal.
As they say, timing is everything. When Judas Priest’s debut record arrived in 1974, the blues-based first wave of British (pseudo) heavy metal was ramping down and the punk craze was revving up. But JP was smelting the finest minerals from the highest quality ore. And over the next five years, these boys from Birmingham remained dedicated to developing their superior super-pure metal while fighting to find an audience. By 1980, a revolution had ensued and the new wave of (authentic) British heavy metal was in full swing, with Judas Priest leading the charge. At the helm – the band’s ball-busting poster boy – vocalist, Rob Halford. Judas Priest would enjoy an impressive buttload of platinum-selling albums and sold-out international concert tours throughout the ’80s. However, by the early ’90s, the once unstoppable “beast that is Priest” was becoming less formidable, and the iconic frontman bailed, in grand fashion – seeking new musical frontiers.
Over the next decade, Halford would further his personal crusade, fronting such acclaimed metal acts as Fight, Two and Halford (the band) – before returning finally to the Priest fold early in the new millennium. Throughout his JP tenure and his various subsequent solo projects, Rob Halford has created some of the mightiest metal in music history – a fact that’s proven in the 2015 collection, The Essential Rob Halford.
This comprehensive, 30-song, two-record set spans nine albums and showcases Halford’s best solo work – a must-have that oozes non-stop highlights.
First released on the 1993 debut Fight record, War of Words, opening tracks “Into the Pit” and “Nailed to the Gun” set the stage perfectly – so crisp, so fresh, so gloriously heavy – even after two decades. Packing a particular psychedelic punch, “I Am Alive” and the industrial-tinged “Legacy of Hate” are both powerful representatives of Fight’s 1995 A Small Deadly Space record.
The bulk of the material offered here is culled from the Halford (the band) catalog – and rightfully so. From the opening signature scream and initial driving guitar riff, “Resurrection” announces, “I’m Rob ‘F-ing’ Halford, and I’m gonna kick you in the nards, old school – and harder than ever.” Like bullet that hits ya right between the eyes, “Made in Hell,” “Locked and Loaded,” and “Cyberworld” make for many of the record’s mightiest highlights. Reminiscent of Priest’s Defenders of the Faith era, “Nightfall” is another bona fide gem.
And speaking of Halford’s “golden age,” the Essential collection covers all the bases by also offering a fistful of such Priest classics as “Electric Eye,” “Metal Gods,” “Breaking the Law” and “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” – performed live, and with 100% ferocious authenticity by Halford (the band). Hot rockin’, indeed.