K.K. Downing: the six most important Judas Priest songs

K.K. Downing, photographed at KK's Steel Mill, Woverhampton
(Image credit: Adam Gasson/Guitarist)

Listening to the debut album by KK's Priest, Sermons Of The Sinner, the listener becomes acutely aware of something: It's a bit like Downing's old band. In fact, it's a lot like his old band.

But then, why shouldn't it? As co-founder and lead guitarist of Brummie legends Judas Priest, K.K. Downing put in 40 years of active service, and is as responsible for their sound as much as anyone to have ever pulled on a pair of studded leather pants. It was hardly going to be a techno album. 

"I am metal through and through, and the fans are metal through and through," says K.K. "When we play live we can rejoice in the fact that we’re all metal through and through, unashamedly."

And we're not going to argue with that.  

Below, K.K. Downing picks the six most important Judas Priest songsSermons Of The Sinner is out now.

Victim Of Changes

"We started when I was 17, and I never had a car until I was 27. I was still catching the bus everywhere. So it was rough going. And I think Victim Of Changes really helped us. It was one of the very first songs I wrote, all those years ago, with Al Atkins. 

"It was called something different originally, but It was it was a song that stayed with us throughout our careers, and always stayed in the setlist."

Take On The World

"Take On The World is a really important song. I say that because it could have all gone wrong, but it didn't because that song helped us to become a household name. A lot of people don't know that, and that's the reason I'm selecting the song. We were still struggling as a band, and we didn't really have too much going for us.

"But it became a hit single. And that's why it's pretty important. That single sold around 360,000 copies, which is amazing. It put it in the charts, and it put us on Top Of The Pops."

"Wolverhampton Wanders took the song on as their anthem, which was great. The song got us noticed in the industry, and led to British Steel, which consolidated Priest as the archetypal heavy metal band." 

Breaking The Law

"With British Steel we had a very complete album for the first time. We had a great cover – with the award-winning razor blade – and it was the first album where we went out all clad in leather and studs, and I think that really helped us to keep on the good side of our fans. We hardened up, and a lot of other bands followed suit.

"Breaking The Law was probably one of the first ever concept videos, which is thanks to the director Julian Temple. He did us a massive favour by picking the song and doing the video.

"We did the tour with Iron Maiden supporting, then we took it to America, which was great, and I think Breaking The Law was instrumental in all of that."

You've Got Another Thing Comin'

"The next big thing to come along was You've Got Another Thing Comin'. That was a big one. It was on the Screaming For Vengeance album, and people just took it on board straight away, especially in America. It was all over the radio."

Turbo Lover

"A lot of people are going to disagree with this, but Turbo Lover was big thing in our lives. We went out in a lot of countries in the world, the song was played all over the radio, and the album [Turbo] was very successful.

"Even now think a lot of people are finding that album and really enjoying it, and I think a lot of people, when they think of Judas Priest, will think of Turbo Lover. Don't ask me why, that's just what I'm thinking!"


"This was an important album. Even now, when I listen to that album, I'm thinking, 'How the hell did we put that album together?' Because from front to back it has this great continuity. 

"It was probably a massive turning point in metal when Priest did that album, because the 80s was behind us, and it was all about the future. 

"In the 90s, even though Rob left the band after that album, the bands that came through – whether it was Pantera or Megadeth or whoever – probably heard the album and got on board with it, thinking they either had to improve on it or get heavier. So I think it was a very important album in the genre of metal."

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.