Killing Machine (known as Hell Bent for Leather in the US due to controversy over the Cleveland Elementary School shooting) is the fifth studio album by British heavy metal band Judas Priest. With its release in October 1978, the album pushed the band towards a more commercial style; however, it still contained the dark lyrical themes of their previous albums. At about the same time, the band members adopted their now-famous "leather-and-studs" fashion image, inspired by punk fashion and Rob Halford's interest in gay leather culture. It is the band's last studio album to feature drummer Les Binks.
|Studio album by Judas Priest|
9 October 1978 (UK)|
28 February 1979 (US)
|Recorded||August – September 1978 at Utopia and CBS Studios, London|
35:06 (Killing Machine)|
38:30 (Hell Bent For Leather)
|Producer||Judas Priest, James Guthrie|
|Judas Priest chronology|
|Singles from Killing Machine|
The album was retitled Hell Bent for Leather for its U.S. release in early 1979, because the U.S. branch of Columbia/CBS did not like the "murderous implications" of the title. Both titles are drawn from songs on the album with "The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown)", an early Fleetwood Mac cover, being added to the U.S. release.
The album was also pressed in red vinyl in the UK.
With Killing Machine, Judas Priest began moving to a more accessible, commercial format that abandoned the complex, fantasy-themed songs of their previous three albums. While this album still had dark undertones, it was more grounded in realism. This was reflected in their change of stage costumes from flowing Gothic robes to leather, but was also a reaction to the rising punk and New Wave movements. K.K. Downing had expressed doubts about the New Wave of British Heavy Metal stating everybody was totally dedicated to haveing their own show, their own images". Priest were part of the influence on the NWOBHM, but not part of it. The band's new, simpler sound was the result of several factors, including a desire to compete with punk rock, produce songs that were easier to perform live, and also appeal more to American audiences. Tracks such as "Burnin' Up" and "Evil Fantasies" are replete with S&M themes while "Running Wild" is about late-night partying and "Before the Dawn" a depressing ballad. "Hell Bent for Leather" reflected their newly adopted leather costumes as well as Rob Halford's soon-to-be-trademark entrances on stage in a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The single "Take on the World" was an attempt at producing a stadium shoutalong tune in the mould of Queen's "We Will Rock You", and was also covered by New Wave band The Human League on their 1980 tour. If the lyrics were simplified a bit from the band's previous albums and adapted more into mainstream arena rock, the instruments retained their characteristic aggressiveness with heavier guitar riffing and elements of blues influence returned on some songs. The album is certified gold by the RIAA. Finally, the production of Killing Machine was markedly improved from Judas Priest's earlier albums, which were criticized for having excessively flat sound, and would be further refined for their next and breakthrough album, British Steel.
"Delivering The Goods", "Hell Bent For Leather", and "The Green Manalishi" were the three songs from Killing Machine which became standard parts of the band's live setlist, with the other songs being performed rarely or not at all.
The album was remastered in 2001, with two bonus tracks added (three in the UK). The bonus track "Fight for Your Life" was the "original" version of Judas Priest's "Rock Hard Ride Free" from their Defenders of the Faith album. "The Green Manalishi (With the Two-Pronged Crown)" is considered a bonus track on the UK remaster, but a regular track on the U.S. version.
In 2010, audiophile label Audio Fidelity released a limited-edition 24-karat gold CD of Hell Bent for Leather. Mastering was done by Steve Hoffman. This does not contain the bonus tracks from the 2001 edition.
This is the first Judas Priest album where Glenn Tipton incorporated the guitar technique of tapping into his soloing style, perhaps inspired by Eddie Van Halen's popularization of the technique, with his band Van Halen's popular debut album having come out earlier that year. This is also the final album for drummer Les Binks who had joined the band in early 1977 in time for the Sin After Sin tour; he is credited with helping develop the traditional Priest percussive sound. Binks was dropped and replaced by drummer Dave Holland after the 1979 tour because he had demonstrated an inability to replicate his studio drumming in a live setting.
In 2005, Killing Machine was ranked number 321 in Rock Hard magazine's book of The 500 Greatest Rock & Metal Albums of All Time. This album, as well as subsequent albums by the band, have somewhat divided fans, with some preferring the complexity and darkness of the early albums, while others prefer the more mainstream and polished later albums.
The song "Hell Bent for Leather" is featured in Ari Gold's 2008 film Adventures of Power, the 2004 episode of the sitcom That '70s Show entitled "Surprise, Surprise" and also featured in 2009 game Guitar Hero: Metallica.
|1.||"Delivering the Goods"||Rob Halford, K. K. Downing, Glenn Tipton||4:16|
|2.||"Rock Forever"||Halford, Downing, Tipton||3:19|
|3.||"Evening Star"||Halford, Tipton||4:06|
|4.||"Hell Bent for Leather"||Tipton||2:41|
|5.||"Take On the World"||Halford, Tipton||3:00|
|6.||"Burnin' Up"||Downing, Tipton||4:07|
|7.||"The Green Manalishi (With the Two-Pronged Crown)" (Fleetwood Mac cover; originally exclusive to Hell Bent for Leather, also added to later releases of Killing Machine)||Peter Green||3:23|
|10.||"Before the Dawn"||Halford, Downing, Tipton||3:23|
|11.||"Evil Fantasies"||Halford, Downing, Tipton||4:15|
|2001 bonus tracks|
|12.||"Fight for Your Life" (Recorded during the 1982 Screaming for Vengeance sessions)||Downing, Halford, Tipton||4:06|
|13.||"Riding on the Wind" (Live at the US Festival, Devore, California; 29 May 1983)||Downing, Halford, Tipton||3:16|
|1979||US Billboard Top LPs||128|
|United States (RIAA)||Gold||500,000^|
^shipments figures based on certification alone