Stained Class is the fourth album by British heavy metal group Judas Priest, released in February 1978.Stained Class is the only Judas Priest album to feature songwriting by all five members of the band.
The sleeve artwork, by Rosław Szaybo at CBS Records, introduced the now-classic Judas Priest logo, replacing the Gothic Script logo which appeared on all of the band's prior albums. Stained Class was the first Judas Priest album to dent the Billboard 200 chart and was eventually certified gold in the U.S.The album was the heaviest the band had released up to that point, with the lyrics often dark and violent. The only instance of progressive rock on this album is "Beyond the Realms of Death", with its shifting dynamics. Hereafter, the progressive rock that characterized the band's first four albums would be completely eliminated.
"Beyond The Realms Of Death" was the only song from Stained Class to become a live staple, with 472 performances through 2012. The title track has been played just twice, in 1978 and 2005, and Exciter disappeared from 1981 until 2005. White Heat, Red Hot was frequently played in 1978-1980 but never since then and Invader, Saints In Hell, and Heroes' End have never been played live. The notorious (see below) Better By You, Better Than Me was played only 11 times, and the obscure "Savage" around 5 times in early 1978.
The album was remastered in 2001, with two bonus tracks added.
Several years after its release Stained Class was the subject of negative attention due to the infamous 1990 civil action brought against the band by the family of a teenager, James Vance, who entered into a suicide pact with his friend Ray Belknap after allegedly listening to "Better by You, Better Than Me" on December 23, 1985. Belknap succeeded in killing himself, and Vance was left critically injured after surviving a self-inflicted gunshot to the facial area.
The suit alleged that Judas Priest recorded subliminal messages on the song that said "do it." The suit was eventually dismissed. The song was originally written and performed by the band Spooky Tooth.
Three weeks after the lawsuit wrapped up, the band kicked off their Painkiller Tour by playing Better By You, Better Than Me on the first concert in Burbank, California on September 13. It is Judas Priest's only live performance of the song after 1979.