Remixed and Remastered by Rodger Bain at
Morgan Studios, London 1981
"Diamonds And Rust"
bonus produced by
Jeffery Calvert, Geraint Hughes (aka: Max West), and Judas Priest
With Judas Priest gaining worldwide recognition for their live 1979 tour-de-force Unleashed In The East and their 1980 breakthrough British Steel, David Howells felt he should unite producer Rodger Bain with new advancements in technology to re-mix Rocka Rolla and give it the production it should have had in the first place, hopefully tasting a slice of the Priest popularity pie along the way. Rodger made vast improvements to the audio, producing a stronger, cleaner album with greater stereo separation, and he made changes that gave it more of a rock attitude, such as removing Rob's harmonica from "Rocka Rolla" and changing the effects on K.K.'s "Deep Freeze" to make it sound more like the chilling blizzard it portrays. Other changes included adding the "missing" first verse (the band would often perform the song live with the last verse at both the beginning and the end of the song) onto "Rocka Rolla", adding slapback echo to the guitars and doubling the vocals on "Winter Retreat", and giving a polished touch by adding stereo spread and reverb to the Gull Records version of "Diamonds And Rust". To complete the album's metal makeover, several Sad Wings Of Destiny tracks were added on, making this a much longer release than the previous Best Of Judas Priest compilation.
But not everything turned out so well: Though the EQ was improved, the guitars still retain a thin sound that does not reflect the direction of Glenn and K.K., and while "Rocka Rolla" came closer to the band's vision, it also fades out early, cutting short Glenn's outro solo. The new effects added to "Winter Retreat" do little to help the song. In fact, Rob's hum-along at the intro is practically faded to non-existence, while rather than enhancing it, the slapback echoes and doubled voice distract from the song with their strange effects. And instead of simply polishing up "Diamonds And Rust", Rodger buried Rob's harmonies during the choruses and eliminated Glenn's hot guitar licks from the verses in favor of an over-used phase-shifter on the rhythm. He does boost Glenn's solo during the bridge, which was hard to hear on the original version. Also the Priest classic "The Ripper" is strangely omitted, which did not sit well with the fans, who felt it was a stronger track than perhaps "Genocide" and "Prelude". Once again, it seemed the producer behind the early Black Sabbath masterpieces did not share the vision of Judas Priest, even after a second attempt to re-mix the material. Roger never did gain any respect from the fans or the band members, and was beginning to grow disillusioned with the whole recording industry. Rodger Bain disappeared from the scene by the mid '80s, though his contribution to the genre with those first three Black Sabbath albums remains a cornerstone of heavy metal...
Subsequintly, most current reissues of HERO, HERO don't even
bother to use Rodgers remixed tracks. BUYER BEWARE!!!
Logo Design: John Pasche
Artist Mel Grant, "Melvyn", paints a variety of subject matters, among them being a fantasy piece that caught the attention of Gull Records' President David Howells. Howells then asked for second rights to publish the painting as an album sleeve. The 1976 painting SWORD OF THE GAEL originally appeared on the Andrew J. Offutt fantasy-fiction novel of the same title before Howells commissioned the work for this Priest compilation. An interesting observation is that the book has a copyright date of 1975, yet Grant says the painting is from 1976 and the book was never published before the painting was used as the cover...
The title HERO, HERO is taken from the lyrics in the ROCKA ROLLA released song "Dying To Meet You".
One good thing about these Hero, Hero CD reissues is that each one finally has the "Winter Suite" tracks separated at the proper break points, which has not been the case with the Rocka Rolla CD reissues so far...
Below is a chart of the most noted of the reissue
CDs (Thanks to Chris of the Judas Priest Collector's Page for CD listings and
pictures). All except for the Victor/JVC 20-Bit K2 remaster have background hiss
and feature very similar audio (as they all appear to use the RCA digital
remaster), with variations only in volume and EQ. A Listening Guide is provided
in the chart along with personal recommendations as an aid in finding a match to
your personal preference. After finding the version you want, try searching for
this rare title at the Global Electronic Music Marketplace:
Steel & Leather Productions, U.S.A.