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Rob Halford Explains ‘Incredibly Decadent’ ‘Turbo Lover’ Era

Jo Hale,Getty Images

There is no debate about the fact that Judas Priest are one of heavy metal’s pioneers. There is no second guessing the fire of songs like ‘Hell Bent For Leather,’ ‘Livin After Midnight,’ or ‘Breaking The Law.’ 1986′s ‘Turbo Lover,’ however, is a different kettle of stew. Even the most die-hard Priest fan would have to admit that this particular synthesizer-aided song wasn’t quite cut from the same cloth as most of the band’s early material.

Musically, the song was all four on the floor, big drums, pulsing rhythm, an almost mechanical feel. In a way, more dance floor gloss than denim and leather. With singer Rob Halford doing some questionable 80′s dance moves in the video, the leather fancier and the hair, um, poofier, this was not the Judas Priest most of the metal contingent was expecting upon its release some 25 plus years ago.

The real question was, what the hell was Halford singing about, and just what is a “turbo lover” anyway?  In a recent interview with Classic Rock magazine, Mr. Halford clues us in a bit. “When you look back at the 80′s, living through that decade, it was incredibly decadent.”

Halford admits that at that time in his life he was “going for everything,” adding, “I hit that inevitable rock and roll wall and survived it. There was a lot of money flying around,” he further explained, “it was a real pig out in many ways, all the Porches, all the turbo engines, everything was larger than life.”

A-ha. Turbo engines, now we get it. The sound of a then-new guitar synth effect used by guitarist Glenn Tipton provides the initial ‘turbo’ sound on the record and also provided the seed for the lyrics. “It sounded like a turbo engine revving up,” Halford recalled. And so how did the sonic become the lyric? “We used the typical having a bit of fun in the back seat of a car (theme),” he said “using the vehicle as an innuendo for having a bit of slap and tickle.”

As for the song dividing Priest fans in a “love it or hate it” debate, Halford says “If we’d shut off every possibility we wouldn’t have been as adventurous. The truth is, we’ve never believed in rules.” Amen to that one!

Watch Judas Priest’s ‘Turbo Lover’ Video

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