TIPTON, ENTWISTLE & POWELL
"Edge of the World"

(Rhino)

01. Unknown Soldier
02. Friendly Fire
03. The Holy Man
04. Never Say Die
05. Resolution
06. Searching
07. Give Blood
08. Crime of Passion
09. Walls Cave In
10. Edge of the World
11. Stronger Than the Drug

RATING: 3/10

No disrespect to the dead intended — be it John Entwistle, beloved anchor of THE WHO, or workingman's drummer Cozy Powell, both of whom have left us. But this record, recorded in the mid-'90s, was shelved by JUDAS PRIEST axeman Glenn Tipton's label for a reason. That reason being: it sucks. Even stalwart PRIEST fans had to stretch their loyalty to the limits to support the Tipton solo album that did get released, 1997's cheap-bin staple "Baptizm of Fire". But this one, not even a mother could love.

Chief offender is Tipton's self-confessed bad singing voice — at his best, he's barely passable, a county-fair Paul Rodgers with a head cold. At his worst, he'll strain to hit a note and turn your stomach. Throughout the entire album, his voice is drowned in studio effects like a cheap steak in A-1 sauce, making it sound like he's warbling in the shower and the mic is in the next room over (a technique that might have actually yielded better results). Listen to the title track for just the most heinous example of the echo, delay, backing vocals and general chicanery keeping Tipton's vocal from making dogs howl and babies cry.

Get past that and you'll hear what sound like throwaways from bad 1980s movie soundtracks — the kind of bloated, keyboard-beglopped corporate metal that clogged the arteries of major labels back in the day. Remember THE FIRM? (If not, allegedly heavy midtempo turd "Walls Cave In" will remind you.) Hell, Robert Palmer shlockfest THE POWER STATION arguably rocked harder than this. Entwistle and Powell do a serviceable job, but are given no room to leave their own stamp on the proceedings — but for the marquee value of their names, it coulda been anyone in the rhythm section.

The real star of the show, unfortunately, are the keyboards — their dated honks overshadowing Tipton's lead work and rendering the whole album an exercise in mediocrity. The nadir comes at "Give Blood", a song so corny and out-to-lunch it would embarrass HAMMERFALL. Handclaps, blocky snare drum, an irritating guitar hook — you coulda told me this was some forgotten mid-'80s TED NUGENT b-side, and I woulda bought it. Absolute dreck.

Some of these disasters might have made decent, forgettable album cuts for PRIEST — imagine Halford singing lighter-in-the-air anthem "Crime of Passion", and it makes a little sense. Better yet, don't scar yourself by listening to it at all, and spare yourself Tipton's mushmouthed, can't-even-fix-it-in-the-studio, sub-Ringo Starr vocal. Critics of PRIEST's 1997's comeback "Jugulator" wondered why that album was so damn heavy — could it be that Tipton, having purged himself of this horsepill of oddly-produced, echo-y AOR excess, was ready for some real metal again?

All of us — you, me, and especially Glenn Tipton himself — are damned lucky he didn't quit his day job.

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