Released: 2007, ECW Press
As part of an informal, three-month series (March, April, May of 2011) I am getting ‘caught-up’ reviewing some books by Metal’s #1 journalist, Martin Popoff. Last month (March 2011) I reviewed his COLLECTORS GUIDE review series, this month I am going to look at a half dozen of his biographies including titles on UFO (2005), Rainbow (2005), Dio (2006) Black Sabbath (2006), Judas Priest (2007) and Deep Purple (2008 & 2009) Next month we will look at his on-going Ye Olde Metal series. Please feel free to enjoy my other book reviews in the overview of Popoff’s work.
HEAVY METAL PAINKILLERS is the evil twin-brother of Popoff’s illustrated history about Black Sabbath, DOOM LET LOOSE. Both books were published by ECW Press and accordingly, no expense was spared in creating this monster retrospective. Very similar in tone, content layout and design to DOOM LET LOOSE, HEAVY METAL PAINKILLERS is also widely considered the definitive guide about Judas Priest.
Any Priest fan would be proud to have this on his or her coffee table for visitors to browse through. Over 380 pages comprise this over-sized paperback, nice glossy paper-stock, and gorgeous images scattered throughout, over 500 for those of you keeping track at home. I’ve always felt that these little extras bring a book to life. Such the text, prose, raw facts and data are essential, but the visual component, really add a dimension of reality (for lack of a better term) to the long and often complex history of veterans bands. You can read about the 70’s but seeing old flyers, photos and so on kinda bring it home either as memories for us older dudes or a great history lesson for the younger dudes.
Again Martin follows his unique methodology of dedicating each chapter to an album and going into depth, track by track by track. It’s a pretty overwhelming task. Think about it. Priest had (at time of publication) 15 studio albums for Martin to analyze and discuss plus the countless side projects, solo stuff, live albums, reissues and compilations. It’s a heap o’ Metal to get a handle on but somehow he pulls it all together in an immensely readable format to help us wrap our brains around this 30+ year phenomena.
This book also transcends Priest by adding chapters on the bands Fight, Two and Halford for additional insight on the various career arcs of Halford and to a lesser extent Travis. Even the story of Tipton’s solo album gets some space. Each chapter is loaded with quotes, great anecdotes and trivia although during interviews the various members seem to tow the party line and give fairly stock answers, the kind you read in every magazine.
Pair this book up with Al Atkins recent (2009) autobiography DAWN OF THE METAL GODS (Co-written with Neil Daniels) and you have everything you will ever need to know about the Judas Priest. Here’s an idea. Let’s get Daniels and Popoff to collaborate on a Judas Priest documentary movie. Since they both wrote great books on the same band at almost the same time, it only makes sense. If Lemmy, Saxon, Maiden and Rush get movies, so should Priest. You just know it is coming. You read it here first!