On this day in music history: October 9, 1978 – “Killing Machine” (aka “Hell Bent For Leather”), the fifth album by Judas Priest is released (US released is on February 28, 1979). Produced by Judas Priest and James Guthrie, it is recorded at Utopia Studios and CBS Studios in London from August – September 1978. Only six months after the release of their second major label album “Stained Class”, Judas Priest return to the studio to work on the follow up. Continuing to evolve, the band begin developing the sound that will make them icons of heavy metal. While still heavy and dark sonically, the songs are more “commercial and accessible” unlike their first two independent label releases. At this time, Judas Priest also changes their look, wearing black leather and studs, an image that becomes synonymous with the band and their lead singer Rob Halford. Working with Pink Floyd engineer James Guthrie, Priest record their fifth album in under a month. It is also the last release to feature Les Binks, who is replaced by Dave Holland in late 1979. The album features several songs that become standards in Judas Priest’s catalog including “Evening Star”, “Rock Forever” and “Take On The World”. With “Stained Class” still on the charts in the US, “Killing Machine” is held back from release until February of 1979. A cover of the Fleetwood Mac song "The Green Manalishi (With the Two-Pronged Crown)“ is also added to the US version. The title is also changed for its American release to "Hell Bent For Leather” after another song on the album. Change comes when executives from CBS Records in the US feel that the title is too controversial, and will draw negative attention. The move is highly ironic considering the major controversy that Judas Priest faces over a decade later from the “Stained Class” track “Better By You, Better Than Me”. Original UK LP pressings are issued on red vinyl on a limited basis. “Killing Machine/Hell Bent For Leather” is remastered and reissued on CD in 2001 with two additional live bonus tracks. It is reissued on vinyl in 2010 by UK label Back On Black Records, featuring two bonus tracks, and pressed on red, green and black vinyl. The album is also reissued by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab in 2014, as part of their “Silver Label Vinyl Series”. “Killing Machine/Hell Bent For Leather” peaks at number one hundred twenty eight, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
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