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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 31 August 2017
Fav priest album
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on 26 November 2003
Have to agree almost completely with the above review...Better by you better than me was the first song by Priest I ever heard, and as for favourite JP songs of all time, 4 of them are on this album (Saints in Hell, Beyond the realms, Savage & Better by you...).
I'd never heard such a tight rhythym guitar unit before as Tipton and Downing either...and Rob Halfords vocals amazed me as a youngster in the 70's.
Excellent remaster, good notes in the sleeve and a couple of additional tracks too.
Look out your denim jacket, turn the hi-fi up to '11' and remember British heavy metal.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 4 August 2013
By the end of the 1977 "Stained Class" was looming, abetted by the best drummer Priest ever had (Les Binks, ex-Glam Pop group Fancy, who had a hit with a cover of `Wild Thing') and it was arguably the best album the band ever made, rivalled only by "Sad Wings of Destiny". After playing these albums for 35 years, I still can't decide which is the best.

1978 opened with "Stained" and closed with "Killing Machine" which spawned three singles, including the hits that broke Priest commercially in Britain (`Take on the World' and `Evening Star' - the best single, killer ballad `Before the Dawn' not charting, which is just criminal, as it's a superb song and should have been number 1 worldwide, being both commercially spot on and artistically impeccable). But despite its status as the hitmaker, "Killing Machine" heralded the end of Priest as the thinking man's metal band. "Stained Class", however, manages to be both thoughtful and ass-kicking in the extreme, pleasing anyone who likes rock music to be both fierce and intelligent.

At this point, the production sound Priest had always needed was finally nailed : fizzing, spitting electronic suzz, a little sheeny clean, a little scuzzy noisy, consummately perfect sonically. This, at last, was THE definitive sound of heavy metal -twin lead guitars, earthshattering vox, thudding bass/drums, electronic effects present, but enhancing the tonal qualities of the music, melding with the overdriven amps. This, more than anything else, is what makes `Stained Class' the album that fans who can't cope with early Priest (the fools!) agree with the rest of us that the band had no flaws by this point.

And then there's the songs. Opening the album with its twin-bass drum skeleton (Dave Holland couldn't play this number, nor did Scott, the guy from Racer X, ever manage it properly either as far as I could tell), Les Binks heralds the coming of the finest lineup of Priest, which sadly only lasted three albums (one a live set). `Exciter' is a rock and roll monster, a quasi-religious exhultation of heavy metal as a faith that everyone who loves rock music can buy into - ecstatic, breathtaking and engineered like a jet engine designed by T S Eliot, this is classy rock and roll writ large...and one of the founding songs of proto-thrash metal. Without this, there'd have been no `big four' in the eighties. `White Heat, Red Hot' is more of the same, with some sidebar comments that suggest the dangers of nuclear doom, but it has to be said that this is the fun part of the album. The solos are magnificent (you can even sing KKs, and he always bent toward the jammy, acidy, Hendrix freak outs, leaving Glenn to play the melodic-blues Blackmore role...but let's be fair, KK and Glenn write better melodies than both of these guys and technically never had any peers; unlike most metal guitarists, they could compose, not just improvise any old fret-bothering at speed to make us think they had something to say..instead, they SAID it).

A blistering cover of Spooky Tooth's `Better By You' is next, a failed single but an artistic triumph (much better than the original version), and it's a hymn to bitterness all rejected male lovers can relate to -dark, brooding, passionate stuff, belongs in every great rock collection of singles.

Then things get even more serious. The title track is a great Priestian meditation on man's fall from the state of grace he occupied before civilisation - or maybe this is about original sin, the hypocrisy of corrupt straight society and its rules in place to keep us all in our places...this is heavy metals' outsider, Miltonian philosophy expressed obliquely but tellingly: `Long ago when man was king/his heart was clean/now he's stained class/time has slashed each untouched thing...'. It's deep stuff, expressed feverishly in a sparking electrical package. Rock don't come more interesting or exciting than this.

`Invader' is a great bit of science fiction songwriting, a little light relief, the opening synth/guitar pedal effect used by the band in gigs to introduce `Starbreaker'. In the middle eight, Halford's ability to bring pleading drama into a song and make it high art comes when he sings `When they come to take control/every man must play his role/they won't take our world away..' - it's the blues meshing with golden age SF, just sublime. `Saints in Hell' (what a title) is high-register screaming, wormwood-riffing rock and roll lava, all Dennis Wheatley/Book of Revelation demoniac fury - its' lurid, but perfect. I bet Sabbath were jealous of this...and certainly generations of Black Metallers love it too. Short, punchy and glittering, `Savage' depicts the suffering from disease and exploitation indigenous people were subject too in the aftermath of culture shock when encountering white explorers and colonialists - Iron Maiden, of course, based `Run to the Hills' on `Savage', but play the two side by side and the Maiden number is like a kids' cartoon compared to the ferocity and vertigo of `Savage' a vastly underrated number in my opinion.

Then Les Binks sits in the studio, turns an acoustic guitar upside down (he's left handed) and plays the verse chords of `Beyond the Realms of Death'. Halford double-takes and writes what may be his most eloquent singing and an utter, absolute masterpiece is born. The ultimate expression of Priests' rejection of the worlds' fundamental unfairness and immorality, `Beyond the Realms' is stunningly beautiful and crushingly tragic - if you're not moved by this song, you're made of stone.

Closing magnificently with `Heroes End' (a paen to James Dean, Janice Joplin and Jimi Hendrix) that is one of the bands best, least understood songs, its chorus line sums up what was to come : Priest would go commercial and despite some great moments, would never again write such wonderful songs as they had in their first four albums. Truly, `It's a shame a legend begins at its end.' Fame and fortune beckoned, but their era of genius was over.
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on 31 October 2001
One of priest's best albums,the lyrics are powerful,the riffs and solo's will blow you away.With 2 extra bonus tracks it's a bargain."Exciter" starts fast and the album stays with the pace all the way,"better by you,better than me"is one priest song that will always be one of my favorites" and "beyond the realms of death" builds upto a guitar solo that will have you drawing the curtains so the neighbours can't see you playing air guitar.ORDER IT NOW,YOU CAN'T FAIL WITH THIS ONE.
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on 21 January 2005
When I first bought & listened to this album in 1978 I considered it to be a brilliant & brutal bludgeoning assualt. At that time it undoubtedly included some of the fastest power metal ever recorded. With the added bonus of Rob Halford's ridiculously brilliant high pitched vocals this really was an enjoyable album.
Buying it again 27 years later I've found it to be equally enjoyable but not quite the over the top fast metal it was considered to be when first released. There is more light & shade to found than I'd remembered. However the overall production of the album & effects make for a fantastically sinister sound -in retrospect probably enhanced by the knowledge of the failed US court case of the early 1990s regarding two attempted suicides by teenagers (1 successful) which blamed subliminal "do it, do it" messages in Priest's cover og Better by Me, Better Than You".
If you only buy 2 Judas Priest albums buys this & Painkiller.
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on 3 December 2005
One of my fave Priest albums, along with the other 'S' albums (Sad Wings of Destiny, Sin After Sin) of the 70's Judas Priest era, these 3 albums rank among the best metal outputs of the time, and still hold up today!
Stained Class is probibly my favourate because it contains one of the best ballads ever, Beyond the Realms of Death, which is simply a beautiful song! the solo is my all-time favourate guitar solo ever! Other highlights include the bludgeoning Exiter (a pre-cursor to speed metal anyone?), Better By You, Better Than Me, Saints in Hell and the overlooked Heroes End (that middle riff, oh so heavy!). As for the remaster and the bonus tracks, the sound is noticibly cleaner and crisper from the original and a bit louder (the original CD was too quiet). The bonus tracks are a nice addition, I do like Fire Burns Below, its a nice slow burner that Priest are oh so good at (along with rip snorters like Exiter), the live version of Better by you... is OK, but not really necessary. Overall I'm happy that I re-bought it in the remastered version as its well worth it for the extra track, liner notes and cleaner production.
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Judas Priest's fourth full length studio album Stained Class was released all the way back in 1978 and was the band's first album to feature Les Binks on drums.

It may not be the bands heaviest, fastest or most famous album, but the record still contains some of the fan's favourite tracks such as the dynamic opener `Exciter' as well as the powerful building semi-ballad `Beyond The Realms Of Death,' which is often praised for its amazing guitar solo.

Listening to Stained Class can sometimes feel almost like studying the early development of the genre, the album contained both a lot of firsts and the perfecting of a lot of key elements for the genre in a concise and effective manner.

The Spooky Tooth cover song `Better By You, Better Than Me,' which Priest absolutely make their own for example, seems to find the missing link between classic rock like Kiss with early Heavy Metal. `White Heat, Red Hot' contains some early examples of double kick drum usage in the modern sense. The whole album is full of guitar solos and riffs which would influence bands for years to come.

Beyond mere historical value, Stained Class is simply a good record that it is enjoyable to listen to from start to finish. Rob Halford would push his vocal style further in the future, the guitars would become faster and more technical and the songwriting direction would take many twists and turns over the years, but Stained Class remains no less of a good album with its early and pioneering Heavy Metal sound.

Highlights include the fantastic Title Track as well as `Saints In Hell,' and the aforementioned `Beyond The Realms Of Death,' all of which are of serious interest to fans of the band.

Overall, if you like Judas Priest then Stained Class is something that you want to pick up a copy of at some stage and get an idea of how they sounded back in the seventies, making some of the first pure metal albums free from the influence of The Blues.
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on 27 May 2009
This is a marvellous album. Priest were really hitting their stride by this time and it shows. Stained Class is a slick, polished pearl of a record with the band sounding incredibly comfortable with what they're doing. All of them are in fine form, Rob's vocal range is again on full display, Glenn and KK's twin guitar assault is magnificent and Ian Hill's bass is as solid and dependable as ever. But what really sets this apart from their previous work is the addition of Les Binks on drums. Les has this slightly jazzy touch to his playing which really helps the songs to bounce along. I was gutted when he left Priest after Unleashed and I always felt that Dave Holland couldn't hold a candle to him. Ah well!

There isn't really a bad song on here although Invader just creeps under the radar and narrowly avoids being filler material. The opening salvo of Exciter is awesome, displaying that Binks jazzy touch at the start, and is regarded by many as being the first ever recorded example of Speed or Thrash Metal. It is certainly a fast one and no mistake. White Heat slows things down a little bit before the cover version of Better By You shows that Priest can groove when they want to. This of course being the song that caused all the courtroom controversy but the least said about that the better. It's a cover version after all.

The title track picks up the pace again and Rob once more shows how versatile his vocal range is. Then you get Invader and Saints In Hell which are both tidy little rockers followed by Savage which is weird but wonderful. Then comes the albums masterpiece - Beyond The Realms Of Death. The right words are hard to find to adequately describe this song, a mixture of slow burner and hard rocker. It's awesome. Just buy the album and listen to it. The album finishes with the wonderfully frenzied Heroes End and I guarantee you'll want to play the whole thing again and again.

Stained Class really is a terrific album. Not quite on a par with their next work - Killing Machine, but still a great Heavy Metal record that you will surely enjoy.
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on 25 May 2013
Awesome record. Classic. Clear vinyl 2 LP set. Sound quality spot on. But really very very cheap and low quality inner sleeves. Another issues is as follows. The edges of the LP cover were bend during shipping. I don't understand. Amazon claims its a frustration free packaging. Sure its easy to open and looks nice but how does it gets bent. I'm disappointed due to this. Otherwise everything else looks great. If the record would have reached me in great shape I would have given five stars definitely. Now I'm afraid to order from Amazon. This has happened to me many times. But anyways great great album. Highly recommended. But I request Amazon to improve its packaging. Thank you.
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on 4 December 2008
Stained Class has always confounded me. With the exception of Ram It Down, Priest didn't really put a major foot wrong in their long tenure at CBS, pre Halfords departure in the early 90s. British Steel probably heads the leader board overall (on balance, just pipping Killing Machine to the top slot) but Stained Class is probably at or near the bottom. Where it falters in my mind is that it maintains the early 70s guitar sound of Sin after Sin, it suffers from a fair few number of fillers (such as Heroes End, Invader etc), it has a cover version in there for good measure (Better By You, which was added at the last minute by the band), and a jarring somewhat awkward title track. What is confounding is that it is cited as one of their stronger works by an awful lot of people - in fact many musicians cite it as being a major influence on them. I can only lay this claim at the door of the saving graces of the quite spectacular Beyond The Realms of Death, White Heat, Red Hot and the truly awesome Exciter. In Exciter, like Dissident Aggressor and Sinner on the Sin after Sin album, you have the Priest future winning formula stamped large - pounding drums, duelling guitars, soaring high pitched vocals and a riff that NEVER lets you tire of listening to it. What the album does do is bridge the gulf in sound and presentation (including the futuristic logo and sleeve design) between the quirky, embryonic Sin after Sin period and the perfected 80s sounding Killing Machine and in that regard it is an important part of the development of the Priest sound.
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