In 1991, Judas started a hiatus after several non-stop years of recording and touring. By 1994, Rob had left the band and there was no active Judas Priest. After some time chilling, Glenn started to write new material until some songs arose and a pattern began to emerge.
The next step was to pick the right side musicians to fulfil the goal. The first drummer on mind was one of Glenn’s two favourite drummers: Cozy Powell (being the other one John Bonham). “I invited Cozy up to my house and played him the material and he immediately said he’d like to play together. Cozy was an amazing drummer who had played with almost everyone of note and as I worked with him he became a very good friend. He was always cheerful and enthusiastic and the most energetic and powerful performer. If you asked something of him he delivered. He had a stunning array of techniques and fills galore but they all had Cozy’s hallmark stamped on them. He was a master of the double kick and thundered through the fiercest tracks but was capable of the most subtle or delicate sections. Cozy really was a joy to work with and to have around the studio.”
It was much more difficult to find the right musician to perform bass duties. Many players and options were considered as Glenn and Cozy were looking for someone committed to play live and fit the style of both musicians. Eventually, they have reached the name of John Entwistle, The Who bass player, and they realised it was the perfect person for the task. The approach was easy because Glenn and John shared the same manager and as soon as he listened to the demos he said he was in, calling Glenn and agreeing to play together.
The line-up was not complete, as they tried to find the right singer. But Cozy came up with the idea that Glenn’s vocal ability worked more than well with the style. So they decided to stay with the three-piece line-up. Don Airey, Tipton’s good friend and long time collaborator, was called to perform some keys on different songs on the studio.
After the tracks were done, Glenn and his manager Bill spend plenty of time in London and the States trying to reach the right recording label. But most companies, looking how viable and marketable a project is, regardless of the musical quality, shown no interest on the album. It seems like it wasn’t commercial enough, although, Atlantic finally took some interest in it, but with certain conditions.
Even when Atlantic executives liked the tracks very much but felt that the line-up was too “old school” and in the market of that moment that was not on high demand. It was going to be a difficult recording to sell. Their counter-offer was to surround Glenn with some young guns from around the world in order to reach new audiences and show a more modern style. When the result was done, Atlantic will decide if it was going to see the light or not.
Initially, Glenn was pretty devastated with the news, as he totally believed in the band and the songs. Lacking other choices or options he decided to accept the Atlantic proposal and ‘Baptizm of Fire’ did emerge from their suggestion. After some initial frustration, both Entwistle and Powell were OK with the news, and sooner than later they started touring again with The Who and Black Sabbath.
More than ten years later, the songs were released. Glenn tells us that “This first batch of songs sat on the shelf for a decade but I always had faith in them and eventually 10 years on Rhino records heard them and released them as Tipton, Entwistle, and Powell – Edge of the World.” Many things happened in the middle, the Priest beast began to stir again, first with Ripper Owens and then back with Rob again.
Unfortunately, when the songs were aired, it was just as a swan-song for Entwistle and Powell. Both musicians passed away in the ten-year delay between the recording and the release. Glenn remembers his friends: “I can’t begin to describe the shock I felt when I heard of Cozy’s death in a car accident. Not only do I miss him as a friend but also the world misses an incredible and unique musician. Cozy was larger than life. He was a true legend and a man who had the respect of everyone he worked with. He helped so many people get their act back together and asked nothing in return. John died of a heart attack. He also was an icon and the last of a kind. He lived life to the full. He was a great musician with great identity and was liked and admired by everyone who knew him. It was a privilege for me to have worked with both John and Cozy and outside of Priest it will always be one of the highlights of my career.”
The very first sessions were at Mono Valley in Monmouth UK. Entwistle has shown up with seven bass guitars, three bass rigs, two video systems and a crate of brandy. Glenn stated that even though he knew John’s capabilities from playing in The Who he still wasn’t ready for just how good he was. Not only he could play any technique, but he was also totally up to date with his knowledge of equipment.
The first rehearsed track was called “Give Blood” and as soon as John joined Cozy and Glenn the chemistry arose. It could have been no other bass player in the world, his sound and style were unique: twangy and almost distorted. He allowed the character to cut through and blended in perfectly. He was also partially deaf, but as soon as he had a couple of brandys however he seemed to hear a lot better for some reason. With the musical result under risk, the team seriously took care of the alcohol supplies. John later co-wrote the title song with Glenn.
Cozy was an exceptionally skilled musican as well, with his peculiar and autentic sound. It didn’t take a lot of work to customise the drum sound of the album. He knew what a track needed and, because he could literally play anything, Glenn pushed him to try many fills and different options on several places, always coming up with something special. Both musicians worked with mutual admiration and respect. “I felt quietly proud that I’d actually been able to get that bit more out of him.”
Mono Valley is right on the river, so Glenn used the mornings to do some fishing. The producer Sean Lynch worked as well behind the scenes, and later he became a usual collaborator in Judas.
On the track called Himalaya, The idea of a big choral backing vocal came up during a session. So they went down the local pub and recruit some old boys that went to the studio. They worked on some harmonies and repeated the idea several times but the result was not the desired, Glenn stated: ” It sounded like a brawl outside a lunatic asylum.” Naturally,
The session deteriorated and got quite ugly, but the boys were OK with the payment of 10 pounds each and the differences were forgotten after a crate of brown ale at the pub.
Later the session continued at John’s studio. He was the owner of a huge mansion and was kinda the archetypal eccentric rockstar: “I remember John invited us for dinner one night and we sat in this immense dining room full of suits of amour and weapons and shields. We were expecting a five-course dinner and John showed up with fish and chips in newspaper and a bottle of ketchup.”
Every room was like an Aladdin’s cave with model train sets or guitar collections. An amazing and inspiring environment to document new songs.
Well known is John’s obsession with pyro. One night, after the recordings, dining in an Indian restaurant nearby, he torched the table on fire. All the customers and the staff stampeded into the street. He just took his dessert to the corner of the table and continue eating as the flames and the smoke consumed some furnishing.
The experience recording at Entwistle’s place had some curious incidents, Glenn stated “One night whilst staying at Johns about 3 o’clock in the morning, I couldn’t sleep, and decided to drive home as there were a couple of things I needed to attend to. On trying to leave the mansion I couldn’t get out as all the ground floor doors were locked so I climbed out of a first-floor toilet window and down a drainpipe. As I reached the bottom John who’d been watching with mild interest calmly walked passed with his wolfhounds and wished me good morning. He never asked for an explanation and I wondered if he often walked his dogs in the small hours. Cozy and John were two very different characters. The first liked his motorbikes and would turn up at the studio on some Italian superbike or Harley while in contrast John (who had a collection of eccentric cars) couldn’t even drive and enjoyed being chauffeured everywhere. Cozy liked his white wine while John was very much a Brandy man, but both could consume a good quantity of each and I always made sure we had ample supplies in stock.”
“Cozy always seemed to get out of one scrape into another. Even if we weren’t doing drums he seemed to never want to go home and used to stay at the studio watching football or Sport on the TV (he was a big Swindon fan) I found it strange at first but then realized he’d always got some complication or problem with either an ex or current girlfriend staying at his cottage. Either that or he was trying to avoid the taxman or bailiffs. Cozy was so talented he could always earn money but couldn’t seem to manage it very well and always had some personal upheaval going on. You had to love him for it cause it very rarely phased him and he ‘d always meet you with a rascally grin as if he hadn’t a care in the world and I really don’t think he had (except Swindon’s position in the league!)”
“I’m sure everyone will know this album is a tribute to their unique styles and skills and a small part of the immense legacy they have left behind which will continue to inspire people all over the world for many years to come.”
01 – Unknown Soldier (1:20)
02 – Friendly Fire (5:31)
03 – Holy Man (5:00)
04 – Never Say Die (4:47)
05 – Resolution (6:50)
06 – Searching (4:40)
07 – Give Blood (3:54)
08 – Crime Of Passion (5:17)
09 – Walls Cave In (4:35)
10 – Edge Of The World (5:39)
11 – Stronger Than The Drug (5:18)