Popoff, Martin – Judas Priest: Decade Of Domination (Book review)

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Author: Martin, Popoff
Title: Judas Priest-Decade Of Domination
Publisher: PowerChord Press
Year: 2018
Reviewed: Dec 2018
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer:  JP

Martin Pooff writes books faster than I can read and review them!   It is the for a year-end round-up with three of his most recent titles about the titans of Metal; Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. Enjoy all the books in this spotlight!

A little over a decade ago, (in 2007) Martin Popoff wrote one of the earliest books about Judas Priest. It is long out of print and quite the sought after rarity these days.  I have no doubt people regularly ask for a reprint.   That may or may not happen but until then this is the next best thing.  DECADE OF DOMINATION is number ’80-something’  in his bibliography and he essentially has redone, as the title would suggest, the first decade of the Priest!  This is the standard, PowerChord Press paperback, at a decent 240+ pages and a bunch of colour photos, pictures of memorabilia, album covers and so forth.   The format is much the same as many of his titles, really the only logical way to tackle a band discography/biography, is chronologically.  He explains the decade means a ten-year span, in this instance 1974-1984…the near perfect run of ten Judas Priest releases.  The ‘tidy ten’ as he calls it in his introduction.  This is a clever idea.  There are many, many patterns in Metal discographies that, in hindsight can be seen clearly, and Judas Priest’s ‘Decade of Domination’ has a beautiful symmetry to it.

Popoff makes no bones about it, this first era of Priest, is his era. These albums and songs are entrenched in his musically DNA.  Always a fan, the abrupt and seismic shift of TURBO and subsequent excursions and evolutions, had him on-board but the shine, the true hero worship is confined to those early years. 1974-1984 were his formative years as a music fan and the bands. He grew up with them.  Accordingly, DECADE OF DOMINATION is essentially ten love-letters, one to each album.   That is not to say that all sense of analysis and subjectivity are absent from his prose, but he really, really like these albums!

After a brief ‘early years’ (’68-74) intro, off we go, chapter by chapter, following the same format; overview, recording/production info, release info, song-by-song analysis, tour info and conclusion.  Tidy indeed!  Over the years Popoff has interviewed all the guys many, many times, including various producers and so on, so the vast majority of this material is pulled from his own archives, with very little duplication or repetition. There are tons of cool stories, like back in 1979, when the transvestite cab-driver was helping drummer, Les Binks load in a giant gong to a recording studio in London at 3:00 in the morning so the recording engineers could dunk it into a tank of water to get the desired effect for the end of song, ‘Take On The World’.  The book is packed with stuff like that!

In his intro Popoff says these albums get the red carpet treatment, they really do.  I had fun going back and listening to some of those albums while reading along. I had not heard some of these albums in literally a decade or more, with the exception of SCREAMING and DEFENDERS as they tend to be in higher rotation on my play-list, maybe every three years or so.  There is no more fitting tribute to the early days of Priest than DECADE OF DOMINATION.