priestJudas Priest – A Touch Of Evil(Tipton/Halford/Downing/Tsangarides) b/w Between The Hammer And The Anvil (Tipton/Halford/Downing) 1991

The highest charting of the three singles culled from US gold certified album Painkiller – even outdoing the title track – this cracking slice of British metal is what Priest do best. And what Rob Halford and his pals still do better than so many young pretenders in 2009.

Fusing menacing lyrics with screaming hooks, A Touch Of Evil is classic post NWOBHM Priest with an ace production job by Chris Tsangarides (try saying that after a couple of ales) complementing a massive Halford vocal. Painkiller was, some would say, the pinnacle of Priest’s career and this tune was the pick of the bunch on a belting record.

By contrast the B-side demonstrates why the West Midlanders were never too far away from straying into Spinal Tap territory. Perfect for the likes of Turisas, Between The Hammer And The Anvil sounds like a poor man’s Saxon with Halford demonstrating little conviction behind the mic. Perhaps he was a tad embarrassed by this below-par effort and understandably so. But then that’s what B-sides are for.

At the time few could imagine this being the penultimate single release prior to Halford’s departure but at least the renowned singer parted company with Priest on a creative high. And for collectors this seven incher includes the itinerary of the band’s eight-date UK tour in support of the aformentioned Painkiller. An essential piece of vinyl for so many reasons.