Interview: Judas Priest’s Glenn Tipton Explains Band’s Two New Compilations

In preparation for their Epitaph farewell tour, Judas Priest released two compilation packages for fans, with the hopes that the releases (plus their sprawling back catalog) will tide their followers over until Judas Priest return to the studio to complete their next album.

The more deluxe of the two releases, Single Cuts, came out October 10 in the UK and features 52 songs (singles and B-sides) released between 1977 and 1992 spread across 20 CDs. The more traditional offering, The Chosen Few, came out October 11 and includes 17 songs chosen by other metal veterans, from Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott to Black Label Society’s Zakk Wylde, who provide commentary on the tracks they chose.

Guitar World recently sat down with longtime guitarist Glenn Tipton to discuss to two releases. The complete interview with Tipton and new guitarist Richie Faulkner can be found in the upcoming Holiday 2011 issue of Guitar World.

GUITAR WORLD: Why release a 20-CD package of 52 songs when you could easily fit them on three CDs?

GLENN TIPTON: We wanted to make a nice item for people. We’ve never been an actual singles band, so this is something special for the real collector. The songs come from out 20 single releases that we’ve done over the years. But really, even “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming,” “Breaking the Law” and “Living After Midnight,” aren’t singles as such, they’re just the closest things we’ve really had to that. Our singles have always been released before an album comes out to project what’s on the album and give people a taste of the album. So there are songs in there like “Evening Star.” We thought it would be a good idea to put a collection of those single releases together for fans who really like that kind of thing. I think that’s what you can offer people now. It’s not a ploy to sell more albums, it’s the only way to sell albums.

Because nobody buys new albums without great packaging these days, they just fileshare them?

In today’s age, you release an album you spend a year to 18 months on and within five minutes it’s offered on 1,000 sites for free. I’m not winging about that. It’s the way of the world. So, what can you give your fans now that’s worthwhile now? -- a nice presentation. If I was a fan, I could appreciate that.

Essential Judas Priest, which came out in 2006, features many of the same songs as The Chosen Few. Why issue another compilation album now?

We spoke with Sony and discussed the idea and we thought it was a great idea because it is a unique concept. I know people have passed comments through the years about certain songs, but to take you track by track -- and the combination of that with the amalgamation of the title is great. There are people on there ranging from Ozzy, Kerry King (Slayer), Scott Ian (Anthrax), Lemmy [Kilmister] (Motorhead), Joe Elliott (Def Leppard). These are people we’ve got a lot of respect for, people we’ve played with a long time, our friends, great musicians. So it’s interesting to see what their handle is on their favorite Priest song and what it means to them.

Which comment was your favorite?

I thought Ozzy was great. He said, “I love ‘The Ripper.’ Rob hits notes in there that are just below what a dog can hear.” There are great comments on there, and when you hear people’s comments that you’ve got such great respect for and then you play the track it all adds interest to the whole thing. And we’re proud that all these people have such complimentary things to say about the band and each track in general. The thing about Priest is when we started to write years and years ago we never patted ourselves on the back and said we knew what we were doing. But the music’s been timeless and that’s just lucky. It’s just the way we write. We’ve struck a chord with a lot of different people at different points in their lives and a lot of people relate a certain Judas Priest track to an event in their life – maybe a time in college or a romance or time at home – whatever it is. And that’s what this album is all about and what these comments relate to.”

Were you surprised by anyone’s choice in particular?

Lemmy snapped up “Breaking the Law” and he said they did a version of that [which appears on the covers album ‘Hell Bent Forever.’] which is pretty interesting. Priest can mean what you want it to mean. It’s different things to different people and it’s great to see their comments.

For an interview with Glenn Tipton and Richie Faulkner of Judas Priest, check out the upcoming Holiday 2011 issue of Guitar World.

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Jon Wiederhorn

Jon is an author, journalist, and podcaster who recently wrote and hosted the first 12-episode season of the acclaimed Backstaged: The Devil in Metal, an exclusive from Diversion Podcasts/iHeart. He is also the primary author of the popular Louder Than Hell: The Definitive Oral History of Metal and the sole author of Raising Hell: Backstage Tales From the Lives of Metal Legends. In addition, he co-wrote I'm the Man: The Story of That Guy From Anthrax (with Scott Ian), Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen (with Al Jourgensen), and My Riot: Agnostic Front, Grit, Guts & Glory (with Roger Miret). Wiederhorn has worked on staff as an associate editor for Rolling Stone, Executive Editor of Guitar Magazine, and senior writer for MTV News. His work has also appeared in Spin, Entertainment Weekly,, Revolver, Inked, and other publications and websites.