By the mid 1990s — an era where singer Rob Halford had exited and Judas Priest had yet to find his replacement, Ripper Owens — guitarist Glenn Tipton was unsure of his band’s future. Without Priest serving as his main musical outlet, Tipton teamed for recordings with Who bassist John Entwistle and veteran session drummer Cozy Powell, both of whom have since passed away.
But when Tipton’s label heard the end results, they offered a suggestion, which resulted in 1997’s “Baptizm of Fire.” “At the time I was with Atlantic, and in their words, they thought it was ‘A bit old school,” Tipton tells Billboard.com of the Entwistle/Powell recordings. “They wanted me to work with some younger guys, and mix and match the tracks. I went to L.A. and worked with some young guys,” including ex-David Lee Roth bassist Billy Sheehan and Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo.
However, the Tipton-Entwistle-Powell sessions were so fruitful that a disc worth of tracks recorded around that time will be released March 7 via Rhino as “Edge of the World.” The same day, a reissue of “Baptizm” with added tracks will also hit stores.
“A really great album came out of it, but what it did was leave all these other tracks that I’d done with John and Cozy,” Tipton says. “I always knew that Cozy was a great drummer, but I never realized what good a bass player John was, until he came down to the studio and started to play. I always felt that these tracks were valuable tracks, and deserved to see the light of day.”
While the music on both releases is similar stylistically to Judas Priest, Tipton supplies lead vocals for the first time. “I would never say I’ve got a good voice by any stretch of the imagination,” he admits. “Interesting, maybe. I’m very lucky in the sense that being a songwriter, I can write the songs tailor-made for my limited vocal ability. So my voice is like another instrument, that I can write the songs to suit.”
Of the two bonus tracks that are included on the re-release of “Baptizm of Fire,” the album-closing ‘New Breed’ proved special for Tipton. “My daughter wrote it with me, and my son plays drums on there,” he says. “So it’s the first time that we worked together really, as a father-daughter-son team.”
Tipton will soon be setting his sights back on Judas Priest and working on the follow-up to 2005’s “Angel of Retribution,” which was the band’s first album with Halford since 1990’s “Painkiller.”
“We’ve had a break — we’ve been out for almost two years,” Tipton says. “We all decided to take January off, and then we’re going to start writing the new album in February. We are doing a charity show for the Teenage Cancer Trust at [London’s] Albert Hall in April, and we are talking about some summer festivals [in Europe]. But our main priority is to write the next Judas Priest album — that’ll be the number one thing on our agenda.”