The Info List - Stained Class

--- Advertisement ---

Stained Class is the fourth studio album by British heavy metal group Judas Priest, released in February 1978. It is the first of three albums to feature drummer Les Binks. It gained notoriety for its dark lyrics and themes, as well as a 1990 civil action trial where the band were accused of backmasking that allegedly led to the suicide attempts of two teenagers. Stained Class was ranked as the greatest Judas Priest album on Stereogum.com,[1] and was described by Steve Huey on Allmusic.com as "Judas Priest's greatest achievement".


1 Overview 2 Controversy surrounding "Better by You, Better than Me" 3 Critical reception 4 Track listing 5 Personnel 6 Charts 7 Sales and certifications 8 References 9 External links

Overview[edit] Stained Class is the only Judas Priest album to feature songwriting by all five members of the band. It was at this point, however, where Glenn Tipton became the band’s primary lead guitarist;[citation needed] from this point forward, he would mostly share songwriting duties with Rob Halford. K. K. Downing's only standalone performances on Stained Class are "Savage" and the second solo on "Beyond the Realms of Death" and "Heroes End", with the rest of the album either featuring Tipton exclusively or duets between the two.[citation needed] Newly added drummer Les Binks earned a songwriting credit on "Beyond The Realms Of Death" for composing the acoustic intro. The sleeve artwork, by Rosław Szaybo at CBS Records, introduced the now-classic Judas Priest logo, replacing the Gothic Script logo which appeared on all of the band's prior albums. Stained Class was the first Judas Priest album to dent the Billboard 200 chart and was eventually certified gold in the US. Dennis MacKay was brought in by CBS Records to produce the album. His resume at the time consisted mainly of jazz fusion artists, plus David Bowie, Supertramp, and others. He set himself to the task of cleaning up the band’s unwieldy songwriting style and making their material shorter, tighter, and more direct. The recording sessions for Stained Class took place in October and November 1977 at Chipping Norton Recording Studios in Oxfordshire. The album was the heaviest the band had released up to that point — with the lyrics often dark and violent — with only slight instances of progressive rock; hereafter, the progressive influences that characterised the band’s first few albums would be completely eliminated so that Judas Priest completely embraced heavy metal as their sound. "Better by You, Better than Me" was a last-minute addition to the album when CBS Records insisted on including another more commercial track to liven up a record with which a majority of the songs have a very dark and sinister undertone. It was recorded in a separate session with James Guthrie, as Dennis MacKay had moved on to other projects and was no longer available. The band was reportedly impressed with the production Guthrie did on “Better By You, Better Than Me”, as it stood out in comparison to the overly thin, flat sound that had plagued their albums up to this point, and they would ask him to produce their next album, Killing Machine. "Beyond The Realms Of Death" was the only song from Stained Class to become a live staple, with 681 performances, being played from 1978 through 1981, being revived on the Mercenaries Of Metal Tour and appearing on every tour afterwards, except the Firepower World Tour. Although the title track has been performed relatively often by Halford away from Priest, Judas Priest themselves have played it live only three times – twice during 1978 and once in 2005[2] – while after 1979 "Exciter" disappeared until 2002, also being played in 2005.[3] "White Heat, Red Hot" was frequently performed between 1978 and 1980 but never since,[4] , "Saints In Hell" debuted on Firepower tour in 2018 , and "Invader" and "Heroes' End" have never been played live. The notorious "Better By You, Better Than Me" was played live only seventeen times, mostly in 1978-1979 (with two performances in 1990) and the obscure "Savage" eight times in early 1978.[5] Stained Class was remastered in 2001, with two bonus tracks added. Controversy surrounding "Better by You, Better than Me"[edit] Twelve years after its release, Stained Class was the subject of the infamous 1990 civil action brought against the band by the family of a teenager, James Vance, who entered into a suicide pact with his friend Ray Belknap after allegedly listening to "Better By You, Better Than Me" on 23 December 1985. Belknap succeeded in killing himself, and Vance was left critically injured after surviving a self-inflicted gunshot to the facial area, eventually dying three years later. The suit alleged that Judas Priest recorded subliminal messages on the song that said "do it". The suit was eventually dismissed. The song was originally written and performed by the band Spooky Tooth. Three weeks after the lawsuit wrapped up, the band kicked off their Painkiller Tour by playing "Better by You, Better than Me" on the first concert in Burbank, California on 13 September. It constitutes Judas Priest's only live performance of the song since 1979. Comedian Bill Hicks ridiculed the lawsuit as part of his act, pointing out the absurdity of the notion that a successful band would wish to kill off their purchasing fanbase.[6] Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings

Review scores

Source Rating

AllMusic [7]

In 2005, Stained Class was ranked number 307 in Rock Hard magazine's book of The 500 Greatest Rock & Metal Albums of All Time.[8] In 2017, it was ranked 43rd in Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time".[9] The album is widely considered to be highly influential in the speed metal and thrash metal genres. It has also been viewed as an early indication of the new wave of British heavy metal movement. Although Stained Class was well received in the UK and nearly matched the sales of Sin After Sin, it barely scraped the Billboard 200 in the United States, a result attributed to American audiences, who were used to bands like Led Zeppelin, Queen, Aerosmith, and Kiss, having difficulty digesting Judas Priest’s dark music, which had little in the way of conventional rock themes. The band was also still comparatively unknown in the US at the time, being only on their second tour there. After the success of later albums in the US, however, Stained Class was eventually certified Gold. Track listing[edit]

Side one

No. Title Writer(s) Length

1. "Exciter" Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton 5:34

2. "White Heat, Red Hot" Tipton 4:20

3. "Better by You, Better Than Me" (Spooky Tooth cover) Gary Wright 3:24

4. "Stained Class" Halford, Tipton 5:19

5. "Invader" Halford, Tipton, Ian Hill 4:12

Side two

No. Title Writer(s) Length

6. "Saints in Hell" Halford, K. K. Downing, Tipton 5:30

7. "Savage" Halford, Downing 3:27

8. "Beyond the Realms of Death" Halford, Les Binks 6:53

9. "Heroes End" Tipton 5:01

2001 bonus tracks

No. Title Writer(s) Length

10. "Fire Burns Below" (Recorded during the 1988 Ram It Down sessions) Halford, Tipton 6:58

11. "Better by You, Better Than Me" (Live at Foundations Forum, Los Angeles, California; 13 September 1990) Wright 3:40


Judas Priest

Rob Halford – vocals K. K. Downing – guitar Glenn Tipton – guitar, backing vocals Ian Hill – bass guitar Les Binks – drums


Produced by Dennis MacKay and Judas Priest, and engineered by Neil Ross, except "Better By You, Better Than Me", produced by James Guthrie and Judas Priest, and engineered by Ken Thomas and Paul Northfield Art design by Rosław Szaybo Photography by Ronald Kass


Chart (1978) Position

Billboard Pop Albums 104

Sales and certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales

United States (RIAA)[10] Gold 500,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone


^ "Judas Priest Albums From Worst To Best". www.stereogum.com. Retrieved 31 July 2015.  ^ 'Stained Class' in Judas Priest setlists ^ ‘Exciter’ in Judas Priest setlists ^ 'White Heat, Red Hot' in Judas Priest setlists ^ 'Savage' in Judas Priest setlists ^ Hicks, Bill; Lahr, John (2004). Love All the People: Letters, Lyrics, Routines. Constable & Robinson. ISBN 1-84119-878-1. Retrieved 20 April 2015. CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link) ^ "Stained Class review". AllMusic.  ^ [...], Rock Hard (Hrsg.). [Red.: Michael Rensen. Mitarb.: Götz Kühnemund] (2005). Best of Rock & Metal die 500 stärksten Scheiben aller Zeiten. Königswinter: Heel. p. 89. ISBN 3-89880-517-4.  ^ Epstein, Dan (21 June 2017). "100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media LLC. Retrieved 21 June 2017.  ^ "American album certifications – Judas Priest – Point of Entry". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH

External links[edit]

Stained Class at the Judas Priest Info Pages site. Accessed July 10, 2005.

v t e

Judas Priest

Ian Hill Glenn Tipton Scott Travis Rob Halford Richie Faulkner

K. K. Downing Tim "Ripper" Owens Dave Holland Les Binks Alan Moore John Hinch Al Atkins

Studio albums

Rocka Rolla Sad Wings of Destiny Sin After Sin Stained Class Killing Machine British Steel Point of Entry Screaming for Vengeance Defenders of the Faith Turbo Ram It Down Painkiller Jugulator Demolition Angel of Retribution Nostradamus Redeemer of Souls Firepower

Live albums

Unleashed in the East Priest...Live! Priest, Live and Rare '98 Live Meltdown Live in London A Touch of Evil: Live British Steel: 30th Anniversary Live Battle Cry


The Best of Judas Priest Hero, Hero Metal Works '73–'93 The Best of Judas Priest: Living After Midnight Genocide Metalogy The Essential Judas Priest Single Cuts The Chosen Few


Live in London Electric Eye Rising in the East Live Vengeance '82 Epitaph Battle Cry


"Rocka Rolla" "The Ripper" "Diamonds and Rust" "Better by You, Better than Me" "Take On the World" "Evening Star" "Rock Forever" "Living After Midnight" "Breaking the Law" "United" "Heading Out to the Highway" "You've Got Another Thing Comin'" "Electric Eye" "The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown)" "Freewheel Burning" "Some Heads Are Gonna Roll" "Turbo Lover" "Locked In" "Parental Guidance" "Ram It Down" "Johnny B. Goode" "Painkiller" "A Touch of Evil" "Bullet Train" "Revolution"

Other songs

"Run of the Mill" "Victim of Changes" "Dreamer Deceiver" "Dissident Aggressor" "Exciter" "Beyond the Realms of Death" "Burn in Hell" "Judas Rising"

Tours and concerts

Judas Priest Tour The Return of the Priest Tour Whiskey Woman Tour Rocka Rolla Tour Sad Wings of Destiny Tour Sin After Sin Tour Stained Class Tour X Certificate Tour Hell Bent for Leather Tour Unleashed in the East Tour British Steel Tour World Wide Blitz Tour World Vengeance Tour Metal Conqueror Tour Fuel for Life Tour Mercenaries of Metal Tour Painkiller Tour Operation Rock & Roll Reunited Tour Retribution Tour Nostradamus World Tour Metal Masters Tour Epitaph World Tour Redeemer of Souls Tour Firepower World Tour

Related articles

Discography Members A Tribute to Judas Priest: Legends of Metal Hell Bent Forever: A Tribute to Judas Priest A Tribute to the Priest

Book:Judas Priest Cat