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British Steel
Judas Priest British Steel.jpg
Studio album by
Released11 April 1980 (1980-04-11) [1]
RecordedDecember 1979 – February 1980 [2]
StudioStartling Studios, Ascot, England
Genre Heavy metal
Label Columbia
Producer Tom Allom
Judas Priest chronology
Unleashed in the East
British Steel
Point of Entry
Alternative cover
British steel deluxe.jpg
30th anniversary cover
Singles from British Steel
  1. " Living After Midnight"
    Released: 21 March 1980
  2. " Breaking the Law"
    Released: 23 May 1980 [3]
  3. " United"
    Released: 15 August 1980

British Steel is the sixth studio album by English heavy metal band Judas Priest, released on 11 April 1980 by Columbia Records. It was the band's first album to feature Dave Holland on drums.


British Steel saw the band reprise the commercial sound they had established on Killing Machine. This time, they abandoned some of the dark lyrical themes which had been prominent on their previous releases, but some of it still remains. In a June 2017 appearance on Sirius radio podcast "Rolling Stone Music Now," [4] Rob Halford said the band may have been inspired by AC/DC on some tracks after supporting them on a European tour in 1979. [5] British Steel was recorded in December 1979 at Tittenhurst Park, home of former Beatle Ringo Starr, after a false start at Startling Studios, also located on the grounds of Tittenhurst Park, due to the band preferring Starr's house to the recording studio itself. Digital sampling was not yet widely available at the time of recording, so the band used analog recording of smashing milk bottles to be included in " Breaking the Law", as well as various sounds in " Metal Gods" produced by billiard cues and trays of cutlery. [2] It is the first Judas Priest album to feature drummer Dave Holland, and it was released in the UK at a discount price of £3.99, with the advertisements in the music press bearing the legend "British Steal". The songs "Breaking the Law", " United", and " Living After Midnight" were released as singles. [2]

The album was remastered in 2001 with two bonus tracks added. Bonus studio track "Red, White, and Blue" was written in the sessions for the Twin Turbos album (which would become Turbo) and recorded at Compass Point Studios in Nassau in July 1985. [2] The second bonus track, a live performance of " Grinder", was recorded on 5 May 1984, in Los Angeles during the Defenders of the Faith tour.

In 2009, Judas Priest kicked off their 30th anniversary tour in the US by playing British Steel live in its entirety for the first time. The only other Judas Priest albums of which all the songs have been performed live are Defenders of the Faith and Rocka Rolla, but neither of them were played in the original LP running order or during the same tour (though the original US debut LP had a different running order than the UK version).

The 30th anniversary release of the album came with a DVD and CD of a live show recorded on 17 August 2009 at the Seminole Hard Rock Arena in Hollywood, Florida as part of the British Steel 30th Anniversary tour. [6] The live versions of all the British Steel tracks from this release were also made available as downloadable content for the Rock Band video game series beginning 11 May 2010. [7]

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating (30th anniv. edition) [8]
AllMusic [9]
BBC Music(favourable) (30th anniv. edition) [10]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music [11]
PopMatters8/10 (30th anniv. edition) [12]
Rolling Stone(favourable) [13]
Record Collector (30th anniv. edition) [14]

The album received positive reviews. AllMusic gave the album five stars out of five, explaining that the album "kick-started heavy metal's glory days of the 1980s", and saying that "There are still uptempo slices of metallic mayhem bookending the album in 'Rapid Fire' and 'Steeler', plus effective moodier pieces in ' Metal Gods'". [15]

Rolling Stone and BBC Music rated the album favourably, and PopMatters gave the album an 8 out of 10 rating. In 2017, it was ranked third on Rolling Stone's list of "100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time". [16] The album was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. [17]

During an interview with Wall of Sound's Educate Ebony podcast, Max Cavalera stated British Steel is the "essential thrash metal" album everyone needs to hear and says "I’m sure you can ask Metallica, if it wasn’t for British Steel they wouldn’t be here." [18]

Track listing

1980 U.S. release

All tracks are written by Glenn Tipton, Rob Halford and K. K. Downing.

Side one
1." Breaking the Law"2:33
2."Rapid Fire"4:00
3." Metal Gods"4:04
5." United"3:31
Side two
6." Living After Midnight"3:30
7."You Don't Have to Be Old to Be Wise"5:03
8."The Rage"4:44

Other releases

All tracks are written by Glenn Tipton, Rob Halford and K. K. Downing.

Side one
1."Rapid Fire"4:08
2."Metal Gods"4:00
3." Breaking the Law"2:35
5." United"3:35
Side two
1."You Don't Have to Be Old to Be Wise"5:04
2." Living After Midnight"3:31
3."The Rage"4:44
2001 bonus tracks
10."Red, White & Blue" (Recorded during the 1985 Turbo sessions)3:49
11."Grinder" (Live at Long Beach Arena, Long Beach, California; 5 May 1984)4:49

30th Anniversary Edition – bonus live CD/DVD

All tracks are written by Glenn Tipton, Rob Halford and K. K. Downing except where noted.

1."Rapid Fire"4:18
2."Metal Gods"4:34
3."Breaking the Law"2:43
6."You Don't Have to Be Old to Be Wise"5:24
7."Living After Midnight"4:53
8."The Rage"5:04
10."The Ripper" (Tipton)3:09
11."Prophecy" (Omitted on CD. Some streaming services place this track at the end.)6:12
12."Hell Patrol"3:57
13."Victim of Changes" ( Al Atkins, Downing, Halford, Tipton)9:29
14." Freewheel Burning"5:49
15."Diamonds & Rust" ( Joan Baez)4:07
16."You've Got Another Thing Coming"8:58


Judas Priest


Chart (1980) Peak
Canada Top Albums/CDs ( RPM) [19] 45
Japanese Albums ( Oricon) [20] 69
Swedish Albums ( Sverigetopplistan) [21] 20
UK Albums ( OCC) [22] 4
US Billboard 200 [23] 34
Chart (2010) Peak
Finnish Albums ( Suomen virallinen lista) [24] 46
German Albums ( Offizielle Top 100) [25] 59
Greek Albums ( IFPI) [26] 4
Spanish Albums ( PROMUSICAE) [27] 55
Swiss Albums ( Schweizer Hitparade) [28] 92


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada ( Music Canada) [29] Platinum 100,000^
Sweden ( GLF) [30] Gold 50,000^
United Kingdom ( BPI) [31] Silver 60,000^
United States ( RIAA) [32] Platinum 1,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ "British Steel certification".
  2. ^ a b c d British Steel (remastered edition) (Media notes). Judas Priest. Sony Music Entertainment. 1980.{{ cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) ( link)
  3. ^ "Judas Priest singles".
  4. ^ "JUDAS PRIEST's ROB HALFORD Discusses 'Greatest Metal Albums of All Time' On 'Rolling Stone Music Now' Podcast". 28 June 2017. Archived from the original on 2 July 2017. Retrieved 30 June 2017.
  5. ^ "JUDAS PRIEST Guitarist K.K Downing - "The Tour With AC/DC Was One of My Most Cherished Memories"". Archived from the original on 2 April 2018. Retrieved 30 June 2017.
  6. ^ "Judas Priest Store". 17 August 2009. Archived from the original on 17 April 2010. Retrieved 27 July 2011.
  7. ^ "DLC Week of 5/11 - Judas Priest's British Steel (Live)! // Rock Band®". Archived from the original on 5 October 2012. Retrieved 27 July 2011.
  8. ^ Bowar, Chad. "Judas Priest - 'British Steel: 30th Anniversary Edition'". Archived from the original on 24 March 2012. Retrieved 5 May 2012.
  9. ^ "British Steel review". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 18 August 2016. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  10. ^ Doran, John (6 May 2010). "Review of Judas Priest - British Steel: 30th Anniversary Edition". BBC Online. Archived from the original on 27 July 2018. Retrieved 5 May 2012.
  11. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music. Omnibus Press. ISBN  9780857125958. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  12. ^ Begrand, Adrien (28 May 2010). "Judas Priest: British Steel: 30th Anniversary Edition". PopMatters. Archived from the original on 8 June 2012. Retrieved 5 May 2012.
  13. ^ "Rolling Stone review of British Steel". Rolling Stone. 2 October 1980. Archived from the original on 1 January 2009.
  14. ^ McIver, Joel. "British Steel: 30th Anniversary Limited Deluxe Expanded Edition - Record Collector Magazine". Record Collector. Retrieved 15 May 2019.
  15. ^ Huey, Steve. "Judas Priest – British Steel". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 2 September 2017. Retrieved 1 September 2017.
  16. ^ Considine, J. D. (21 June 2017). "100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media LLC. Archived from the original on 24 June 2017. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
  17. ^ Robert Dimery; Michael Lydon (7 February 2006). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN  0-7893-1371-5.
  18. ^ Brown, Paul 'Browny' (9 August 2021). "Max Cavalera Praises Judas Priest's British Steel: "There's No Bad Songs… There's No Filler"". Wall Of Sound. Retrieved 9 August 2021.
  19. ^ "Top RPM Albums: Issue 0242a". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  20. ^ Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970–2005 (in Japanese). Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. 2006. ISBN  4-87131-077-9.
  21. ^ " – Judas Priest – British Steel". Hung Medien. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  22. ^ "Judas Priest | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  23. ^ "Judas Priest Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  24. ^ " Judas Priest: British Steel" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  25. ^ " – Judas Priest – British Steel" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  26. ^ " – Judas Priest – British Steel". Hung Medien. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  27. ^ " – Judas Priest – British Steel". Hung Medien. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  28. ^ " – Judas Priest – British Steel". Hung Medien. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  29. ^ "Bonhams:Judas Priest/K.K. Downing: A Sony/BMG Canadian 'Platinum' award for the albums Killing Machine, Unleashed In The East, British Steel and Defenders Of The Faith". 7 March 2023.
  30. ^ "Guld- och Platinacertifikat − År 1987−1998" (PDF) (in Swedish). IFPI Sweden. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 May 2011.
  31. ^ "British album certifications – Judas Priest – British Steel". British Phonographic Industry.
  32. ^ "American album certifications – Judas Priest – British Steel". Recording Industry Association of America.