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Music / British Steel

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"All inside, it's so frustrating, as I drift from town to town / Feel as though nobody cares if I live or die / So I might as well begin to put some action in my life!"

British Steel is the sixth studio album by Judas Priest, released in 1980. It is generally considered to be their breakthrough album, and is certainly the most popular outside the hardcore Priest fan-base. It includes fan favourites and hits such as "Breaking The Law", "Living After Midnight" and "You Don't Have To Be Old To Be Wise". The band are often called "Metal Gods" by fans, in reference to their song from this album. Even though said song was about giant robots, the title for many fans reflects the band's genre and how they are revered.

It is also their first album with drummer Dave Holland, who would turn out to be their first long-term drummer, lasting from 1979 to 1989.

An episode about the creative process behind this album was featured in the documentary TV series Classic Albums.


Side One

  1. "Rapid Fire" (4:08)
  2. "Metal Gods" (4:00)
  3. "Breaking The Law" (2:35)
  4. "Grinder" (3:58)
  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)
  4. "Steeler" (4:30)

Bonus Tracks (2001 Release):

  1. "Red, White And Blue"
  2. "Grinder (Live)"

Bonus Disc (Live 30th Anniversary Edition):

  1. "Rapid Fire"
  2. "Metal Gods"
  3. "Breaking The Law"
  4. "Grinder"
  5. "United"
  6. "You Don't Have To Be Old To Be Wise"
  7. "Living After Midnight"
  8. "The Rage"
  9. "Steeler"
  10. "The Ripper"
  11. "Prophecy" note 
  12. "Hell Patrol"
  13. "Victims Of Change"
  14. "Freewheel Burning"
  15. "Diamonds And Rust"
  16. "You've Got Another Thing Comin'"

Principal Members:

  • K.K. Downing - guitar
  • Rob Halford - lead vocals
  • Ian Hill - bass
  • Dave Holland - drums
  • Glenn Tipton - guitar
  • Scott Travis - drums note 

Troping After Midnight:

  • Ambiguously Gay: "Grinder" is a perfect example of this, if you think about it enough:
    Off the straight and narrow
    I won't keep in time
    Tend to bend the arrow out of line
    • And of course the chorus...
    Looking for meat
    Wants you to eat!
  • Audience Participation Song: "Breaking The Law" is a song in which Halford has the audience sing the chorus for him. Often, "Breaking The Law" is sung ENTIRELY by the public. Case in point, this video.
    • Several tracks, including "United" and "Red White And Blue" were written with this purpose in mind.
  • Cool People Rebel Against Authority: "Breaking The Law" in which a depressive, jobless and lonely man starts to break the law to vent his frustrations about being neglected by society.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life:
    Feel as though nobody cares if I live or die
    So I might as well begin to put some action in my life!
  • One-Word Title: "Grinder", "United" and "Steeler".
  • Patriotic Fervor: "Red, White And Blue", a song they recorded but never released except on a remastered version of this album. (Ingeniously, although the song refers to Britain's Union Jack, it could also represent the flag of the United States of America, France, Cuba, or various other countries.) Slightly subverted in that the band's comments in the liner notes pointed out that it was slightly tongue-in-cheek.
  • Pep-Talk Song:
    • "You Don't Have To Be Old To Be Wise"
    I've had enough of being programmed
    And told what I ought to do
    Let's get one thing straight
    I'll choose my fate
    And it's got nothing to do with you
    • "United".
    United, united, united we stand
    United we never shall fall
    United, united, united we stand
    United we stand one and all
  • Robot War: "Metal Gods" at which the machines rebelled against the humans.
  • Shout-Out: Beavis And Butthead enjoyed humming Breaking The Law frequently in the show.
  • Technology Is Evil: "Metal Gods"
    Machines are taking all over
    With mankind in their command
    In time they'd like to discover
    How they can make their demand
  • Title-Only Chorus: "Breaking The Law" repeats the song name between four and eight times, in sets of two, separated by one or two guitar notes.