Turbo Lover

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Songfacts®:

  • Motorcycles have been a big part of the Judas Priest iconography since 1979, when lead singer Rob Halford started riding one on stage to make his entrance for "Hell Bent For Leather." In this song, he goes with that theme for the lyric, assuming the role of the Turbo Lover, "wrapped in horsepower, driving into fury."

    "I just liked the analogy of the motorcycle as a euphemism for love," he said in a Songfacts interview. "It's got kind of a sexual undertone to it – which is fine. It's been done many times in rock n' roll: to use a machine, car, or motorcycle. It's just a fun bit of escapism more than anything else."
  • Is that a synthesizer on a Judas Priest song? Sort of. Glenn Tipton used a synthesizer guitar called a Hamer A7 Phantom that the company sent him. Hooked up to a Roland GR-700 guitar synth, he came up with the unusual sound you hear on the intro. He came up with it when they were writing songs for the album; Rob Halford thought it sounded like a turbo engine revving up, so that became the basis for his lyric. When he developed it into the "Turbo Lover" idea, they decided to name the album Turbo.

    As for the Hamer A7 Phantom, it didn't last long on the market, and the only song of note to use it is this one.
  • This is one of many sexually-charged Judas Priest songs that makes no reference to gender, as Rob Halford had not yet come out as gay for fear of backlash from fans. When he did come out in 1998, fans were overwhelmingly supportive.
  • This was the lead single from the Turbo album, which was recorded at different studios as Rob Halford worked toward sobriety. In early summer 1985, Judas Priest when to Compass Point Studios in Nassau to start recording, but did more drinking than working. They took a break to play Live Aid in July, then resumed the sessions, with remained unproductive. Halford went to rehab in January 1986, and when he got out, they completed the album at the Record Plant in Los Angeles.
  • With its synthy sound, "Turbo Lover" turned off some Priest fans who didn't find it metal enough, but the song held up well and became a love favorite for the band, included in most of their setlists.
  • The video, directed by Wayne Isham, combines animated skeletons with shots of band members and motorcycles composited on a desert landscape, all washed with a solarized switcher effect that was popular in the '80s. It got some airplay on MTV, especially after their metal show, Headbangers Ball, went on the air in 1987.

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