Record labels have been screwing over both artists and consumers for about as long as there have been record labels. The 1981 Judas Priest release Hero, Hero, is one example of this, though to be fair it retains a certain amount of interest for fans.
I’m not going to pretend to have any new info about Hero, Hero, so we’ll stick with what has been reported just about everywhere this album is discussed online. It was put out by the band’s former label, Gull Records, and included all the songs from Rocka Rolla, a good chunk of those on Sad Wings Of Destiny, and a cover of Joan Baez’s “Diamonds & Rust” that appeared on The Best Of Judas Priest in 1978. So you’d think that if you had those three albums already you’d have no need for Hero, Hero. However… for whatever reason the label remixed the Rocka Rolla tracks as well as the Baez cover. From what I see online from Priest fans some of the differences are subtle but others are more significant, including re-ordering lyrics in at least one case. So if you’re a Priest completist, you clearly need this album. Plus that cover – that cover! I almost had to buy it for the cover alone.
I’m definitely more of a “greatest hits” fan when it comes to Priest. Why that is, I have no idea… for whatever reason I just never got around to buying any of their stuff back in the day other than Defenders of the Faith, which I bought at the time exclusively because I thought “Love Bites” was a bad-ass song. (♠) In the last few years I added a vinyl copy of Point of Entry, but that’s been it. And I still don’t know why, because every time I hear Priest I like it.
Case in point: Hero, Hero. I’m digging this album. A lot of these jams are pretty groovy and even a bit spacey, though there are some heavier moments on tracks like “Victim of Changes”. But even these have a bit of funk in them. I’ve had this record in my hand any number of times over the last few years, but finally find one in the right combination of condition and price to warrant pulling the trigger. And since all these songs are pretty much new to me, all the better. I doubt I’ll ever be familiar enough with the original Rocka Rolla versions to be able to do a meaningful comparison, but that’s OK – I like these mixes just fine.
(♠) A fact that remains true to this day.