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Stained Class
Studio album by
Released10 February 1978 (1978-02-10) [1]
RecordedOctober–November 1977 [2]
Studio Chipping Norton Studios, Oxfordshire and Utopia Studios, London
Genre Heavy metal
Label Columbia
ProducerDennis Mackay, Judas Priest, James Guthrie
Judas Priest chronology
Sin After Sin
Stained Class
Killing Machine
Singles from Stained Class
  1. " Better by You, Better than Me"
    Released: 27 January 1978 (UK) [3]
  2. " Exciter"
    Released: 19 May 1978 (Japan) [4]

Stained Class is the fourth studio album by English heavy metal band Judas Priest, released on 10 February 1978 by Columbia Records. It is the first of three Judas Priest albums to feature drummer Les Binks, as well as the first to feature the band's now well-known logo. The album features " Exciter", considered an early precursor to speed metal and thrash metal, [5] as well as a cover version of " Better by You, Better than Me" by Spooky Tooth, which garnered the band a great deal of negative attention several years after its release when a pair of fans were allegedly influenced by the song to make a suicide pact. Nonetheless, Stained Class is regarded by some as one of Judas Priest's best albums. [6] [7]


Stained Class is the only Judas Priest album to feature songwriting by all five members of the band. Newly added drummer Les Binks earned a songwriting credit for " Beyond the Realms of Death", [8] and bassist Ian Hill received his first songwriting credit for co-writing "Invader" with vocalist Rob Halford and lead guitarist Glenn Tipton.

Artist Rosław Szaybo's cover artwork introduced the now-classic Judas Priest logo, replacing the Gothic Script logo which appeared on all of the band's previous albums. Stained Class was the first Judas Priest album to crack the Billboard 200 chart and was eventually certified gold in the US.

Dennis MacKay was brought in by CBS Records to produce the album. His resume at the time consisted mainly of jazz fusion artists and more progressive rock artists such as David Bowie and Supertramp. The recording sessions for Stained Class took place in October and November 1977 at Chipping Norton Recording Studios in Oxfordshire.

" Better by You, Better than Me" was a last-minute addition to the album when CBS Records insisted on including something with commercial potential to liven up an album they felt had a very dark and sinister tone. The song was recorded with producer James Guthrie separately from the rest of the album, as MacKay had moved on to other projects and was no longer available. The band was reportedly so impressed with Guthrie's production on "Better by You, Better than Me" that they asked him to produce their next album, Killing Machine.

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic [7]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music [9]

In 2005, Stained Class was ranked number 307 in Rock Hard magazine's book of The 500 Greatest Rock & Metal Albums of All Time. [10] In 2017, it was ranked 43rd in Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time". [11]

After the success of subsequent Judas Priest albums in the US, Stained Class would eventually be certified Gold.[ citation needed]

The song "Invader" was finally added to the band's setlists in 2021, making "Heroes End" the only song off the album that has never been performed live. [12]


Twelve years after its release, Stained Class was the subject of a 1990 civil action brought against the band by the family of a teenager, James Vance, who entered into a suicide pact with his friend Ray Belknap after allegedly listening to " Better by You, Better than Me" on 23 December 1985. Belknap succeeded in killing himself, and Vance was left critically injured after surviving a self-inflicted gunshot to the face, eventually dying of a methadone overdose three years later. The suit alleged that Judas Priest recorded subliminal messages on the song that said "do it". The suit was eventually dismissed. The song was originally written and performed by the band Spooky Tooth.

Three weeks after the lawsuit wrapped up, the band kicked off their Painkiller Tour by playing "Better by You, Better than Me" on the first concert in Burbank, California on 13 September. It constitutes Judas Priest's only live performance of the song since 1979.

Comedian Bill Hicks ridiculed the lawsuit as part of his act, pointing out (as many others have also done) the absurdity of the notion that a successful band would wish to kill off their purchasing fanbase. [13]

Track listing

Side one
1." Exciter" Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton5:34
2."White Heat, Red Hot"Tipton4:20
3." Better by You, Better Than Me" ( Spooky Tooth cover) Gary Wright3:24
4."Stained Class"Halford, Tipton5:19
5."Invader"Halford, Tipton, Ian Hill4:12
Side two
6."Saints in Hell"Halford, K. K. Downing, Tipton5:30
7."Savage"Halford, Downing3:27
8." Beyond the Realms of Death"Halford, Les Binks6:53
9."Heroes End"Tipton5:01
Total length:43:40
2001 bonus tracks
10."Fire Burns Below" (Recorded during the 1988 Ram It Down sessions)Halford, Tipton6:58
11."Better by You, Better Than Me" (Live at Foundations Forum, Los Angeles, California; 13 September 1990)Wright3:40
Total length:54:18


Judas Priest
Additional personnel
  • Produced by Dennis MacKay and Judas Priest, and engineered by Neil Ross, except "Better By You, Better Than Me", produced by James Guthrie and Judas Priest, and engineered by Ken Thomas and Paul Northfield
  • Coordinated by John Blackburn
  • Mixed by Neil Ross, Ken Thomas and Paul Northfield
  • Art design by Rosław Szaybo
  • Photography by Ronald Kass
  • David Hemmings – management
  • Arnakata Limited – management


Chart (1978) Peak
Japanese Albums ( Oricon) [14] 49
UK Albums ( OCC) [15] 27
US Billboard 200 [16] 173


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States ( RIAA) [17] Gold 500,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ Rivadavia, Eduardo (10 February 2016). "How Judas Priest's 'Stained Class' Showed the Way Forward". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 4 November 2022.
  2. ^ Stained Class by Judas Priest
  3. ^ "Judas Priest - Better By You, Better Than Me". Retrieved 3 November 2022.
  4. ^ "Judas Priest – Exciter". Retrieved 3 November 2022.
  5. ^ "10 Pioneering Speed Metal Songs Released Before Thrash's Birth". Loudwire.
  6. ^ "Judas Priest Albums From Worst To Best". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 31 July 2015.
  7. ^ a b "Stained Class review". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 4 June 2012. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  8. ^ "Beyond The Realms of Les Binks".
  9. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music. Omnibus Press. ISBN  9780857125958. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  10. ^ Best of Rock & Metal - Die 500 stärksten Scheiben aller Zeiten (in German). Rock Hard. 2005. p. 89. ISBN  3-89880-517-4.
  11. ^ Epstein, Dan (21 June 2017). "100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media LLC. Archived from the original on 24 June 2017. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  12. ^ August 16, Joe DiVitaPublished; 2021. "Judas Priest Play Two Old Songs Live for the First Time Ever". Loudwire. Retrieved 18 August 2021.{{ cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list ( link)
  13. ^ Hicks, Bill; Lahr, John (2004). Love All the People: Letters, Lyrics, Routines. Constable & Robinson. ISBN  1-84119-878-1. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  14. ^ Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970–2005 (in Japanese). Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. 2006. ISBN  4-87131-077-9.
  15. ^ "Judas Priest | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  16. ^ "Judas Priest Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  17. ^ "American album certifications – Judas Priest – Point of Entry". Recording Industry Association of America.

External links