In a new interview with Poland’s Eska Rock, JUDAS PRIEST guitarist Richie Faulkner was asked for his opinion on the two Tim “Ripper” Owens-era PRIEST albums — 1997’s “Jugulator” and 2001’s “Demolition” — which were recorded more than a decade before he joined the band. He responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “I dig those records. Like all records, there are some tracks that you like more than others, as you go through those two records. But I could see, as a fan, I could understand what they were doing at that time. There’s some great tracks on there — ‘Hell Is Home’, ‘Machine Man’. There’s some great songs on there, ‘Cathedral Spires’ is a fan favorite. So, yeah, I dig ’em. They’re different — even down to the logo; the logo was different. I think they knew they were doing something different.”

He continued: “I know that [those albums have] got a lot of hate over the years, but I think that time gives things new context, and I think you see a lot of love for those records as well, when you see, like on Facebook and stuff or you talk to fans. There’s a lot of love for those records, given the time it’s been out and reflection and context and stuff. So yeah, I dig ’em. I think they’re great.”

Owens joined PRIEST in 1996 after being discovered when the band’s drummer was given a videotape of him performing with the PRIEST cover band BRITISH STEEL. JUDAS PRIEST at the time was seeking a replacement for Rob Halford, who has since rejoined the band.

Last month, former JUDAS PRIEST guitarist K.K. Downing, who is in a new band with Tim called KK’S PRIEST, lamented the absence of the two Owens-era PRIEST albums from the streaming music services, telling “THAT Rocks!”: “It just seems like they’ve — the desire is to want to erase those songs, which is extremely unfair, really, because it’s a part of my musical history, Tim‘s musical history, and [it’s] very, very sad. Not to make those albums available to the fans is just crazy, really.

“[KK’S PRIEST] just did a festival at the end of last year, and we played ‘Burn In Hell’ [from ‘Jugulator’]. And I think just that one song from that one festival had about 90,000 hits [on YouTube], and considerably more than other songs that we played in the set — KK’S PRIEST and JUDAS PRIEST songs.”

Back in 2019, JUDAS PRIEST bassist Ian Hill was asked in an interview with “Rock Talk With Mitch Lafon” if the unavailability of the Owens-era PRIEST albums was a rights-related issue or if it was a deliberate attempt to bury that part of PRIEST‘s past. Hill responded: “It’s an odd one, really, because there’s some good material on both of those albums. And Ripper is a terrific vocalist, and he did a tremendous job on ‘Jugulator’ and ‘Demolition’. And why they’re not for sale has got nothing to do with us — put it like that. Whether it’s a contractual thing between Sony and whoever owns the copyrights to those albums, I don’t know. But it is a shame, because there’s some good material there. And as a band, it’s still JUDAS PRIEST. I know it wasn’t the trademark lineup, but it was still JUDAS PRIEST nonetheless. So, it’s disappointing — if that’s true that the material is not available. It really is.”

A few years ago, Tim told “Rock Talk With Mitch Lafon” that he was a little miffed by the fact that fans cannot find the music that he made with PRIEST on any of the music-streaming services or other online retailers. “My issue is I would like to buy the records,” he said. “I’d like to buy some to even sell when I’m touring solo, but you can’t when they’re kind of gone. And that’s only the thing I talk about… If they were out there, I could maybe buy ’em at cost and sell ’em at my concerts. That would be kind of cool. Then I’d have my whole catalog.”

In a 2021 interview with Classic Rock magazine, Halford was asked if he has ever listened to “Demolition” and “Jugulator”. “No. I still haven’t,” he said. “This might sound selfish, but because it’s not me singing, I’m not attracted to it. I sound like a twat, but I’m really just not interested. And that’s no disrespect to Ripper, ’cause he’s a friend of mine.”

Halford went on to say that he first met Owens “when the band went through Ohio, [and Tim] came to the show. Was it awkward? Not in the least,” he said. “We gave each other a hug. He’s a massive PRIEST fan, and when the opportunity came for me to go back, he was, like, ‘Thumbs up, it’s great. I’m happy for the band, I’m happy for Rob.’ I respect his chops; he’s a great singer.”

Two decades ago, Halford explained why he was reluctant to hear “Jugulator”. “It’s just too difficult for me to listen to the band when I’m not in it, and that’s nothing to do with taking a shot at Ripper,” he said. “I just can’t listen to it. It’s just psychological. I should just put it on and listen to the fucking thing, but then if I do, [interviewers] will say, ‘Well have you heard it?’, and I’ll go, ‘Yeah’, and then you’ll go, ‘What do you think?’, and I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to be put in that situation. I just love all the things that I’ve done with the band and I’m happy to be a part of that great legacy and that’s all. You want to treat it with respect because that’s what it deserves.”

In October 2020, Halford told “The SDR Show” that he would “absolutely” be open to performing material from “Demolition” and “Jugulator” with PRIEST. “Those two albums are just as valid as everything else in the PRIEST catalog,” he explained. “So who knows? That day may yet come.”

A year earlier, Faulkner said that “Hell Is Home” is one of his favorite songs from the Owens era. The PRIEST guitarist, who joined the band in 2011 as the replacement for Downing, offered his opinion during a live video chat. He said: “I was listening to the Ripper albums the other day, and ‘Hell Is Home’ is such a great track. It’s really heavy and the vocal melody is really great. I think Ripper sings it really well. It’s probably one of my favorite PRIEST songs of the Ripper era. ‘Hell Is Home’ — I really like that.”

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