Management: David Corke
Produced by Rodger Bain
"Diamonds And Rust"
bonus produced by
Jeffery Calvert, Geraint Hughes (aka: Max West), and Judas Priest
Sleeve Concept: John Pasche - Gull Graphics
The original "bottlecap" cover and band logo was designed by John Pasche for Gull Graphics and photographed by Bryce Attwell. According to rock journalist Steve Gett in the official biography Heavy Duty, the cover won several graphic design awards, but the band members were not pleased at all with the look:
There also exists rumors that the Coca-Cola company was upset with the cover and threatened a lawsuit because it looked too similar to their own logo, and they didn't want the negative image of a heavy rock band to be associated with their product.
Perhaps the Coca-Cola threat (if even true) played a role in the first US reissues having a new cover design. Or perhaps it was simply due to Judas Priest's impact as heavy metal leaders of the era that the second cover design took on an image more appropriate to Priest's metal attack in the '80s.
Whatever the case may be, David Howells wanted a new design, so he turned to the work of artist Mel Grant. Melvyn, as he signs on his paintings, had a couple of fantasy pieces that interested Howells. A 1981 painting, THE STEEL TSAR, from the Michael Moorcock novel of the same title and year, was commissioned for the RCA reissue of ROCKA ROLLA:
John Pasche's updated band logo from SAD WINGS OF DESTINY was also added to give the cover a more sinister metal look.
When Gull Entertainment licensed RCA Corporation of America to reissue the album in the US in 1984, they used the new packaging as a marketing strategy to draw current Judas Priest metalheads to purchase an album they may have already owned, while leaving Priest to take the blame for something they never had a hand in. The packaging continues to be used to this very day by companies like Koch Reissues, though recently, several re-release houses such as Victor Entertainment and Snapper Classics have reverted back to the bottlecap design to preserve originality and authenticity in their packaging.
Most of the CD reissues add the Gull recording of "Diamonds And Rust", which was actually recorded with drummer Alan Moore during the Sad Wings Of Destiny sessions. Given the success of the song after the band re-recorded it for Sin After Sin (the CBS Records version was a single and remains a concert classic), the Gull recording was added as a bonus in an effort to help make the Rocka Rolla reissues more attractive. The RCA Records and Victor Entertainment remasters are the only major reissues to exclude the song from their packaging.
Some of the CD reissues leave track 3 as one continuous four-song suite rather than splitting the tracks. With modern CD seek technology, the tracks are better served being assigned individually so that listeners can skip directly to the songs. Unfortunately on the reissues that do assign the tracks individually, none of them get the right break points, as in the case of the Repertoire Records reissue where "Winter" ends up being assigned to track 4 half way through the song, and though "Deep Freeze" is listed as track 4, it doesn't actually come in until track 5 where it's combined with "Winter Retreat" instead of giving "Winter retreat" it's own assignment as indicated on the sleeve. A valiant effort for such an undertaking that comes up short in the end, and Judas Priest are quick to warn that most of the reissues are sub-standard rehashes with nothing new to offer.
But they do acknowledge that the remastering of Rocka Rolla was at least a vast improvement over the original LP:
Also of note: Producer Rodger Bain went on to remix and remaster all of the Rocka Rolla tracks for the 1981 Gull Records compilation Hero, Hero. With advanced studio technology, Rodger was able to better reach his vision and improve the sound, though his arrangements on some of the songs sabotage his efforts and once again leave us without a definitive and proper remaster of Rocka Rolla...
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:
June 1974: Priest begin recording their debut
With little money and high ambitions, the quintet entered three separate studios in London to record their debut album for Gull Records during the last week of June and the first two weeks of July 1974. But the studio proved to be just as hard as the road, with the band finding themselves sleeping in their van which was parked in the bad London neighborhood of Notting Hill:
A single for "Rocka Rolla" was released in August, but did poorly in the British charts and when the album debuted in September, dismal sales followed as well. John Hinch got a bad rap for his drumming on the album, which he blames on the tight budget and rushed schedule not affording his drum parts to be properly finished, and the guitars, which sounded heavy in the studio, were thin and shrill, while the overall result lacked punch and volume. Inexperience and intimidation from having Black Sabbath's producer at the helm only contributed to the frustration and disappointment:
Hard times or not, the making of ROCKA ROLLA is listed as Rob Halford's proudest moment, K.K. agrees that his proudest moment was to finally have an album out at long last, and Ian calls the feeling of having that first album hit the shelves a landmark:
One For The Road
1. One For The
Where would you be without music
One for the road, sharing our load, show us the way
Can you imagine the silence
The melody line's fascinating
2. Rocka Rolla
She's a grip and choke ya
Rocka rolla woman for a rocka rolla man
Man eating momma, steam driven hammer
She a classy, flashy lassy
She's a grip and choke ya
Rock on in, move on in a little girl
Where do we go from here
Places changes, faces change
There's no where else to go
We are never satisfied
(We'll never let you go)
Love is gone, along with fun
8. Run Of
What have you achieved now you're old
Or are you still doing the same this year
I know that the prospects weren't all that good
Have strived for that something we all have deep inside
Now with the aid of your new walking stick
I can't go on
To Meet You
Came in this morning high on a bird's wing
Then with an arm raise the slaughter is started
Killer, killer, keep your thoughts at bay
Get out, get out, go and do your job
Hero, hero, you have done so well
Caviar And Meths
I've got no home
Diamonds And Rust
I'll be damned, here comes your ghost again
And here I sit, hand on the telephone
But we both know what memories can bring
Now I see you standing with brown leaves all around
and snow in
Now you're telling me you're not nostalgic
Cause I need some of that vagueness now
Well a good sun is pouring out her heart
Since time began
All songs published by Blue Lake Music except "Diamonds And Rust" published by Carlin Music Corp.
TOUR DATES 1974: ROCKA ROLLA tour
Rob Halford - v, K.K. Downing - g, Glenn Tipton - g, Ian Hill - b, John Hinch - d
The setlist is unknown, but the band had limited material and claim they performed ever song from the album:
Steel & Leather Productions, U.S.A.