Former JUDAS PRIEST guitarist K.K. Downing spoke about the band's controversial album "Turbo" during an interview for Greg Prato's upcoming book "Take It Off - Kiss Truly Unmasked".
Released in 1986, the synth-heavy "Turbo" is PRIEST's most commercial-sounding album to date, with the band deciding to experiment with some new sounds, particularly with the use of guitar synthesizers, which did not sit well with every fan.
"Turbo" was released after a three-year period during which acts like OZZY OSBOURNE, QUIET RIOT, DEF LEPPARD and VAN HALEN had multi-platinum albums, even though some of them had found themselves below PRIEST on festival bills just a couple of years earlier.
Downing said: "We were thinking: Our support bands are having these massive-selling records. If you create the songs, you've got the media outlets with radio and television now. You can have these big records — you just have to put the songs together. Hence, probably, why PRIEST decided not to do a double album with the 'Turbo' album, which was originally going to be called 'Twin Turbos'. What we decided to do was condense everything down, and put out an album together that had good continuity, a good flow, but also was pretty much a radio-friendly album.
"We attempted it once, and kind of failed, because it didn't happen for us," he continued. "The producers from 'Top Gun' wanted a song from the album to put in the movie, and that didn't happen — our fault. Otherwise, it could have been very, very different for the band. We had an opportunity — it just didn't click for JUDAS PRIEST. They wanted the song 'Reckless'.
"That probably would have done it, because it would have been all over the radio, I suppose, if it was in the movie. We thought 'Turbo Lover' and 'Locked In' were going to do it for us, but they didn't. The tour was very successful, the album was successful, but it wasn't the big-selling album that we hoped for. I think quite a lot of that went on with the acceptability and success of a lot of other bands that you would look at on MTV. Even Ozzy went to the hairdressers."
Two years ago, when JUDAS PRIEST released an expanded three-disc edition of "Turbo" in honor of its 30th anniversary, singer Rob Halford told ABC Radio: "Depending on where you're at with PRIEST, and how you reflect on that album, I think ['Turbo'] creates kind of a mixed emotion. Because [it was] probably, and still is to some extent, the most controversial album that PRIEST ever made."
In a separate interview with Rolling Stone, Halford said that "Turbo"'s lyrical musical content was consistent with the general positivity that imbued a lot of popular music in the eighties. "Things were rocking along, and people were generally out there to party like wild metal maniacs," he recalled. "So we made a PRIEST record with a completely different look at life at the moment. … It was a great time for metal. I don't think it will ever be matched. Just look at what happened in 1986 musically. It was a remarkable year in and of itself."
Due in November, "Take It Off - Kiss Truly Unmasked" focuses on KISS's "non-makeup" era of 1983-1996, a period which helped resuscitate KISS's career, as they reestablished themselves in arenas, on the charts, and via MTV, and yielded some of their most popular songs — including "Lick It Up", "Heaven's On Fire", "Tears Are Falling", "Crazy Crazy Nights", "Hide Your Heart", "Forever", "Unholy", and more.