Goodreads Review: “Heavy Duty” by KK Downing

Heavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas PriestHeavy Duty: Days and Nights in Judas Priest by K.K. Downing
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m a huge Judas Priest fan and know their backstory pretty well, but this book gives some great specifics and early info. Bruce Springsteen and Moby have released terrific memoirs in the last couple of years; to be blunt, this book isn’t as well written from a prosaic point of view, but it’s fun, very British, dishy and a little bitchy.

A band is like a marriage, and a band that’s been “married” for going on 50 years is going to have its share of resentments and secrets. This book also helps capture the battle for songwriting glory as KK and Glenn Tipton fight for Rob Halford’s approval and attendant songwriting credit, as well as his fire-and-ice relationship with co-guitarist Tipton, whom he paints as an emotionally unavailable cipher with a burgeoning drinking problem who was brought in at the last minute in 1975 but ended up hijacking what started as KK’s band (along with Ian Hill). I do think KK comes off a little hypocritically in the end in that from the late 1970s on he felt he was increasingly put into a corner but Ian Hill, the band’s co-founder and sole bassist was never given songwriting credit (although KK does insist that if Ian had come forward with any ideas, they’d have given every bit as much weight as his, Glenn’s or Rob’s). Maybe I was a little touchy about that because I’m a bass player. Who knows?

I was excited when I received this book because I’m a fan, but I honestly don’t know if it will motivate anyone to seek out Priest’s music the way Springsteen’s “Born To Run” made me want to listen to “Darkness On The Edge Of Town” or Moby’s “Porcelain” made me want to check out “Play,” part of the reason being that he (IMO) overlooks their music in favor of other subjects. Still, he does a great character study of the personalities making up one of the bands that invented heavy metal as well as his own tortured childhood and his personal introspections contain real wisdom and insight. Flawed but fun and insightful.

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