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Rocka Rolla
Rocka Rolla (Judas Priest album).jpg
Studio album by
Released6 September 1974 (1974-09-06)
RecordedJune–July 1974
Studio Island, Trident and Olympic Studios, London, England
Genre Hard rock, blues rock, psychedelic rock
Label Gull
Producer Rodger Bain
Judas Priest chronology
Rocka Rolla
Sad Wings of Destiny
Reissue cover
Singles from Rocka Rolla
  1. "Rocka Rolla"
    Released: August 1974

Rocka Rolla is the debut studio album by English heavy metal band Judas Priest, released on 6 September 1974 by Gull Records. It was produced by Rodger Bain, who had made a name for himself as the producer of Black Sabbath's first three albums. It is the only album to feature drummer John Hinch.


According to the band, the entire album was played live in the studio rather than having individual musicians record alone. [1]

According to the band there were technical problems in the studio, resulting in poor sound quality and a hiss through the album. Guitarist Glenn Tipton had just joined when recording of Rocka Rolla began; his only songwriting contributions accepted by producer Rodger Bain were on the title track and "Run of the Mill". He did come up with the songs "Tyrant", "Epitaph", and "Ripper", but Bain considered them not commercial enough and rejected them.[ citation needed] Bain also rejected the concert staple "Whiskey Woman"[ citation needed] which later, with contributions from Tipton, morphed into "Victim of Changes". These songs were eventually all included on their next album, Sad Wings of Destiny. In addition, "Winter", "Deep Freeze" and "Winter Retreat" form a suite, but are listed as separate tracks and divided as such on some versions of the CD release.

Several of the songs on the album feature contributions from the band's previous frontman Al Atkins and had been regular parts of their live performances in Manchester, where the band had achieved a cult following during the previous few years. The track "Caviar and Meths" was originally a 14-minute effort penned by Atkins, Downing, and Hill but due to time constraints, only the intro was recorded for the album. A longer version of the song appears on Atkins's 1998 album Victim of Changes. That album also contains covers of "Winter" and "Never Satisfied".

At this time, the band had not yet developed their signature look of leather and studs. They had appeared on British television show The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1975, performing "Rocka Rolla" and "Dreamer Deceiver", and their wardrobe was very "hippified" as journalist Malcolm Dome put it. This footage was included on the Electric Eye DVD. In addition, the album is more blues/ hard rock oriented than their later releases, [2] and also has some slight progressive rock influences that would continue through to Stained Class, but to a lesser extent, and would be abandoned in later releases. This makes the album's style virtually unrecognizable when compared with later Priest albums, although "Rocka Rolla" does feature dual guitars, and "Run of the Mill" is the first song that was explicitly designed for Halford's, rather than Atkins', vocal range.[ citation needed]

Drummer John Hinch was dismissed in 1975 before the next record was recorded. Tipton would later refer to him as being "musically inadequate" for the band's future plans.[ citation needed]

Rob Halford made a brief explanation before performing "Never Satisfied" during the Epitaph Tour, as there were "a few blank stares" from the audience while performing the song. [3]

The album was reissued several times over the years, and in 1984 it was issued with a different sleeve design. The original "bottle cap" album cover art was initially intended by designer John Pasche for use with an unspecified Rolling Stones album. The band had filed a lawsuit with the Coca-Cola company. [4][ failed verification] The re-issue cover art (by artist Melvyn Grant, and originally used as the cover for the novel The Steel Tsar) was also used for the US cover of Ballistix for the TurboGrafx-16 and Amiga.[ citation needed]

Most of the songs from Rocka Rolla have not been performed by Judas Priest live since the mid-late 1970s, although Halford's solo band performed "Never Satisfied" during live shows in 2003, and the same song was part of the setlist of the Epitaph World Tour. "Rocka Rolla" was performed for the first time since 1976 at Bloodstock Open Air in 2021.[ citation needed]

The tour for Rocka Rolla was Judas Priest's first international tour [5] with dates in Germany, Holland, Norway and Denmark including one show at Hotel Klubben [6] in Tønsberg, one hour from Oslo, Norway which scored them a somewhat negative review in the local press. [7]


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic [8]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music [9]

The album was released to very little reception selling "only a few thousand copies". Because it flopped, the band found themselves in dire financial straits. In particular, they talked of nights in which they were starving and didn't know when they were going to get their next meal. They tried to enter into an agreement with Gull Records to pay them £50 a week, but Gull, which was also suffering economic woes, refused. [10] In a retrospective review, AllMusic gave Rocka Rolla a rating of 2.5 out of five stars, and said that while it was a "sketchy and underfocused debut", the album "definitely hints at Judas Priest's potential and originality". [8]

Track listing

Side one
1."One for the Road" Rob Halford, K. K. Downing4:34
2."Rocka Rolla"Halford, Downing, Glenn Tipton3:05
3."Winter" Al Atkins, Downing, Ian Hill3:02
4."Deep Freeze"Downing1:58
5."Winter Retreat"Halford, Downing1:30
6."Cheater"Halford, Downing2:59
Side two
7."Never Satisfied"Atkins, Downing4:50
8." Run of the Mill"Halford, Downing, Tipton8:34
9."Dying to Meet You/Hero, Hero"Halford, Downing6:23
10."Caviar and Meths" (Instrumental)Atkins, Downing, Hill2:02
1987 remaster bonus track
11." Diamonds and Rust" ( Joan Baez cover, 1975 recording)Joan Baez3:12

The original UK LP has a longer version of "Rocka Rolla" than the version used for the US LP release, and most CD releases. It has an extra verse and chorus at the beginning of the song.

The very rare first printing of the UK LP has the words "Thanks for the words Al!" printed last in the credits in the blue circle on the back cover. This, presumably a reference to original singer Al Atkins, has been removed on other versions of the Gull vinyl.

On some versions of the CD release, "Rocka Rolla" is timed at 4:00 and "Winter" at 0:45, becoming a mashup but remaining on separate tracks. Some releases, e.g. Hero, Hero also combine "Winter", "Deep Freeze" and "Winter Retreat" into one track. The iTunes version combines those three plus "Cheater" into one track.

The version of "Diamonds & Rust" that appears on the re-release is actually from the Sad Wings of Destiny sessions and not the version that appears on Sin After Sin. It was probably included to provide interest in Rocka Rolla, an album that would have been unknown to many of the band's fans due to the band not playing songs from it live after the 1970s.

Rocka Rolla features Judas Priest's longest track, "Run of the Mill" (8:34), prior to "Cathedral Spires" (9:17) from Jugulator in 1997. It is also the longest track co-written by Halford, Downing and Tipton prior to "Lochness" (13:28) from Angel of Retribution in 2005.

Rocka Rolla was covered by black metal swedish band Vondur in the EP The Galactic Rock n' Roll Empire


Judas Priest


  1. ^ Post on the official Judas Priest Facebook page. 2 December 2011. Retrieved 14 December 2011.
  2. ^ "Metal Recusants". Archived from the original on 2 May 2016. Retrieved 4 November 2014.
  3. ^ Hartmann, Graham "Gruhamed". JUDAS PRIEST'S ROB HALFORD AND IAN HILL TALK 'CHOSEN FEW,' UPCOMING ALBUM + MORE Archived 24 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine. 24 October 2011. Retrieved 14 December 2011.
  4. ^ "Judas Priest logo history". Archived from the original on 15 July 2013. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
  5. ^ "Judas Priest Info Pages - Forging The Metal". Archived from the original on 18 March 2013. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
  6. ^ "Hotell Sentralt i Tønsberg - Quality Hotel Klubben". Archived from the original on 15 July 2014. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
  7. ^ "Newspaper cutting : Lydsjokk pa Klubben". Archived from the original on 12 November 2013. Retrieved 19 May 2014.
  8. ^ a b Huey, Steve. Rocka Rolla at AllMusic. Retrieved 1 July 2011.
  9. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music. Omnibus Press. ISBN  9780857125958. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  10. ^ "Judas Priest Behind The Music Remastered: Judas Priest". MTV. Archived from the original on 27 April 2014. Retrieved 18 May 2014.