|Released||6 September 1974|
|Genre||Heavy metal, blues rock, psychedelic rock|
Rocka Rolla is the first studio album released by British heavy metal band Judas Priest. It was released in Spetember 1974 following the release of the single of the same name in August 1974.
In 1973, after drummer Chris "Congo" Campbell and vocalist Alan Atkins left the band in May 1973, Rob Halford (at the time, going by Bob Halford) and John Hinch joined the band, and made a demo that same year. The demo had two tracks, the first being "Run of the Mill", the first track ever written by K.K. Downing and "Whiskey Woman", a song written by Al Atkins that would later become "Victim of Changes", one Priest's classic tracks. This demo attracted the attention of Gull Records, and Judas Priest got their first record deal. As part of the deal, Judas Priest agreed to acquire a fifth band member, this being guitarist Glenn Tipton.
Its style is very different from Priest's later releases, as it reflects the early days of Judas Priest when it was lead by Al Atkins. Rocka Rolla, if anything, is the image of what Atkins had planned for the band if he hadn't left in May 1973. Many of the songs originate from Atkins, such as "Winter", "Never Satisfied" and "Caviar and Meths". The latter was also originally a 10-minute epic written by Atkins, but was shortened to just include its introduction in the final release due to time constraints. Many of their stage classics, such as "Whiskey Woman", "Tyrant", "Genocide", and many others, were not included in the album, however they would appear on their next album Sad Wings of Destiny.
The album was not very successful, and most critics disliked it. Despite this, modern critics reviewing Rocka Rolla noticed the potential and originality of Judas Priest, despite the sketchy and underfocused debut. Later on, Priest would blame their production for the low amount of success that Rocka Rolla generated, as they made many decisions with which the band did not agree.
In 1975, Judas Priest fired drummer John Hinch, on accounts of being "musically inadequate", and hired Alan Moore, who had previously briefly played for the band in 1971-72, for the recording session of their next album.
In 1987, the album was reissued with a different cover, supposedly under trademark allegations made by the Coca Cola Company as their original cover resembled the Coca Cola logo. The reissued cover was made by artist Mel Grant, and was originally the cover art for science-fiction author Micheal Moorcock's novel, The Steel Tsar.
Judas Priest have not performed most of the tracks from Rocka Rolla since the late '70s, however "Never Satisfied" was performed by Halford's solo band in tours during 2003, and the same songs is part of the setlist of their current Epitaph World Tour.