The British metal band Judas Priest covered this song in 1977. They pick up the tempo and electrify the song, but their version is sincere.
They recorded it at the urging of their record company, which sent a copy of the Joan Baez original to the studio when they were recording their second album, Sad Wings Of Destiny
, in 1976. At first, they dismissed it, but changed their tune when they gave it a good listen. "We sat down, listened to it closely, and realized it was a brilliant, sensitive song," lead singer Rob Halford wrote in his memoir, Confess
. "'OK,' we decided. 'Let's show them what we can do with this.'"
The song didn't make the album, but they held onto it and included it on their next one, Sin After Sin
. It became one of their most popular songs, included on their compilations The Best of Judas Priest
and Hero Hero
, and on the live album Unleashed in the East
. It remains a staple of their concert performances.
In the 2000s, Priest performed a mostly acoustic version of the song more similar to the original than the "rocked up" recorded version.
On Bob Dylan's album John Wesley Harding
, there's a song called "The Ballad Of Frankie Lee And Judas Priest," which may have supplied the band name. Judas Priest took their name from a disbanded group that had been using it, so it's provenance isn't clear.
Kevin - Frederick, MD