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Glenn Tipton

Baptizm of Fire Remaster

Review by Gary Hill

The debut solo album (first one released, not the first one recorded) by Glenn Tipton has just been reissued with two new tracks added on to the lineup. Since I reviewed the original release of the album, the majority of this review will be drawn and modified from that review. That said, you can look at this release as even more of a good thing since you get all of the music from the disc, plus a couple of new songs. So, without further ado, here is the review of the album.

This first solo album by Judas Priest guitarist Glenn Tipton is a fine piece of work. It takes the Priest sounds one expects to find here and updates them, bringing new angles and directions to them. The album also brings a new role to Tipton, that of lead singer. The disc was three years in the making, and, through that time, Tipton`s vocal skills and confidence grew. Truly, his vocal range does not include the flashy showmanship of Priest main man Rob Halford, but the vocal style does have parallels. Tipton puts in a very professional effort in that direction.

Musicians featured on the album include (the late) Cozy Powell (ELP, Black Sabbath), Billy Sheehan, Robert Trujillo (Suicidal Tendencies and Ozzy Osbourne) and bass guitar legend John Entwhistle (also no longer with us by this point in time). The lineup for the majority of the album is Tipton, C. J. de Villar and Shannon Larkin (Ugly Kid Joe). Where the personnel varies from this format, it is noted on the track by track review.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Hard Core
 This track is quite like the harder edged Priest material in the Ripper years. Although forgoing the soaring vocal pyrotechnical displays, Tipton`s vocals do call to mind Rob Halford`s Priest work. The lyrics on this one point up the perils of an addiction to pornography by delving into the psyche of a man who is falling further and further into this cycle. Tipton is joined on this number by Robert Trujillo and Brooks Wackerman.

Paint It Black
 This psychedelic Stones classic is given a metal treatment here, and the track features the same musicians as on "Hard Core." Guitar tones which work toward capturing that psychedelic texture help to preserve much of the spirit of the original version, while a driving rhythm section brings the track firmly into the metal realm. This is a very solid cover, capturing much of the charm of the original, and creating a new identity for it at the same time.

Enter The Storm
  Running more in the mode of a moody Priest ballad, "Enter the Storm" is built on an arrangement which (from a metal perspective) is quite interesting. The piece contains elements of modern alternative/metal bands like Alice in Chains, and a break that is Metallica influenced.

Fuel Me Up
  A song about drug addiction, the footnote states "famous last sentiments which have unfortunately taken many from us at a great loss." Musically, this number flirts with Metallicaesque chord progressions and vocals wandering between death metal/ industrial and classic Priest modes.

Extinct
  Featuring Billy Sheehan and Cozy Powell, a moody, picked guitar intro and first verse give way to a song strongly based on a dark metal/thrash mode. Interesting elements include moments of progish overtones (used somewhat as icing on a cake) and a chorus influenced by Alice In Chains and bands of that ilk.

Baptizm of Fire
Commencing somewhat in the mode of "Steeler" from Judas Priest`s British Steel album, "Baptizm of Fire" is an enthusiastic rocker. The bass work on the cut is outstanding and the arrangement contains some neo-classical moments. This musical composition is an impressive showcase calling to mind metallic guitar virtuosos like Malmsteen. With the exception one mildly psychotic verse of lyrics, this is an instrumental and features the same lineup as the previous track.
Healer
After another intro in a Priest balladic mode, the song returns to a more stable metal ground. The vocals here are rather Halfordesque. Featuring John Entwhistle and Cozy Powell, the piece seems to combine Black Sabbath and Judas Priest elements into a considerably strong number.

Cruise Control
Using driving on cruise control as a metaphor for life, ("set your course and let it go, put your life in cruise control") a no-frills metal approach makes up this song. Moments of the number call to mind Metallica`s "Seek and Destroy."

Kill Or Be Killed
Containing traces of Motorhead influence, "Kill or Be Killed" utilizes a modern metal approach. This praise of the dog-eat-dog world is not for those with a distaste for metal.

Voodoo Brother
An intriguing guitar intro (seeming to combine elements of fusion with metal) gives way to a solid rocker. At various times, the track shows off different influences. Moments are quite metallic, while other sections are simply more basic rock. Still other sections show alternative leanings. This piece, with Robert Trujillo, Brooks Wackerman and Whitfield Crane, has some very interesting moments.
Left For Dead
 "You can live your life of ease, if you obey the hierarchy, I never could see, I never knew why, I shouldn't stand and speak my mind." This is a song about standing up for what you believe in, no matter the cost. There is guitar work on this track which almost sounds like banjo at times. Starting off as a folky ballad, eventually the piece kicks into a definite classic rock sort of mode. "Left For Dead" is a nice change of pace from the rest of the album.
Himalaya
 The first bonus track on this release of the CD, this one starts off with keyboards, feeling at first like a symphony orchestra tuning, then moving into a very progressive rock styled segment that serves as the only music for the entire intro. This also serves as the backdrop for the first verse. The cut turns into more of anthemic metal ballad on the chorus and the verses that follow. This extended track has some interesting Eastern textures at times and is a change, but also quite cool. At about mid-point a crescendo gives us a false ending, then keys take it again for a time until it bursts back out into a rather bluesy metallic texture. The guitar solo that comes over this is not exceptionally flashy, but very tasty. The cut turns even more powerful as the next vocals take it. It feels a bit like a prog metal track during this section. As the song moves outward towards its conclusion, Tipton gets in another killer solo. Neil Murray provides bass and Cozy Powell handles the drums on this song.
New Breed
 The second bonus track, this one is also the weakest on show here. It's very punk rock oriented, feeling sort of like a cross between the more punk era of Hawkwind and Ace Frehley's solo work. It's not that it's a really weak song; it's just a bit generic and doesn't really hold up to the rest of the stuff on the CD. While most of the song is weak, the closing sections find it redeeming itself in a killer jam with some very tasty overlayers and a meaty main riff. In addition to the rest of the performances, Glenn Tipton provides the bass here and his son Rick plays the drums.
 
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