REVIEW: Judas Priest – Priest…Live! (1987)

PRIEST WEEK

Its PRIEST WEEK!  Yesterday’s installment:  Rocka Rolla (1974).

JUDAS PRIEST – Priest…Live! (1987, 2001 Sony 2 CD remastered edition)

I have a long history with Priest…Live!  My cassette was originally bought at Stedman’s in Kincardine Ontario, July 1987.  An LP copy was sold to me by a co-worker named Chris from his own collection about a decade later.  Finally I bought a 2 CD remaster which is the last version I hope I’ll need.

Priest…Live!was my first Priest live album. I got the albums out of order: Defenders, Screaming, Turbo, Priest Live. Then, after discovering the pre-Screaming songs for the first time, I slowly began expanding backwards: Point of Entry, British Steel, Unleashed, Rocka Rolla, Sad Wings…

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Because of this album’s crucial role of introducing me to “old Priest”, I have a really hard time being critical about it. I will say this: This version of “Metal Gods” with the really melodic chorus is awesome. It’s my favourite version of this song, by a fair bit. I don’t know if that was live or overdubs or backing tapes or whatever. It sounds really cool.

Regardless of how I feel about “Metal Gods”, I can tell you that Priest Live covers pretty most all of the critical post-Unleashed numbers from 1980 (British Steel) to 1986 (Turbo). You get all the tracks you’d expect from the 1980’s: “Freewheel Burning”, “Turbo Lover”, “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin'”, “Living After Midnight”, “Heading Out To The Highway”. Clearly the concept here is to have no songs that overlap with the band’s previous live album, Unleashed in the East, a tactic used by other bands such as Kiss, on records like Kiss Alive II. While being fair to the fans economically speaking, as a live concert experience that means you’re missing out on “Green Manalishi”.

Luckily this remaster is now expanded to two CDs, and decked out with three bonus tracks including the crucial “Hell Bent For Leather”, but this remains the only holdover from the pre-1980 period.  While the home video/DVD version of Priest Live contains “Green Manalishi”, that video was taken from just one show (Dallas, Texas) while the CD has songs from an Atlanta concert as well.  Essentially the CD and DVD versions are two different things.  In addition to “Green Manalishi”, the DVD also has “Locked In” and “Desert Plains”.  Live versions of these songs do exist on Priest remasters, but they are different versions, not the Dallas recordings.

Live in Dallas, but not the version on the album.

I enjoy the running order.  To begin the concert with the mellow and dramatic “Out In the Cold” was a really cool, daring move.  It sets the stage for a dramatic concert.  From there it’s pedal to the metal:  “Heading Out to the Highway”, “Metal Gods”, “Breaking the Law”…

I know from an old Guitar World interview that KK and Glenn felt the album could have been mixed better, that too much time was spent “fixing it” in the mix. Sure enough the crowd noise sounds artificially enhanced and there are backing vocals that I am certain are not live. Otherwise, the record sounds pretty good!  But that could just be the nostalgia talking. The guitars could have had more teeth; it was the 80’s though. Dave Holland’s snare sound is in the annoyingly high range, but these are not major concerns. Halford’s interaction with the crowd is more friendly than usual, which is nice especially after viewing something like the Rising in the East DVD. He does do a couple annoying sing-alongs, with the crowd…I’m sure it was fun to be there, they’re not fun to listen to on headphones.

One more nostalgic point: I remember buying this back in that summer of the 1987 and thinking, “Why did Priest change their logo?” I loved the old logo. I never really thought this was a good album cover.  Very plain, which seemed to be the fashion in the late 80’s, a decade that Priest Live embraces without shame.

4/5 stars

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36 comments

    1. No British Steel review although you will see British Steel before the end.

      As I told our friend kingcrimsonprog on his site yesterday, I didn’t have time to do British Steel properly. I have a 3 disc deluxe edition and it deserves a long, detailed review which I just couldn’t put together in time. Which just means there needs to be Priest Week 2 :)

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  1. Saturday night and the Priest is back …

    I know some die-hard Priest fans would burn me alive in a giant wicker Glen Tipton for saying so, but I think this Lp is 30 times better than ‘Unleashed in the East’.

    When my mates and I were all about 15 this was such a big LP for us, so was the VHS (Boobs!!).

    You are totally right, Out in The Cold is an absolutely brilliant way to begin this LP.

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  2. Well Mike when this came out in 87 I bought the thing on vinyl and I could not believe how lame the packaging was for a live album I mean like I have told u before Maiden ruined it for everyone after the Live After Death packaging !
    But I was surprised as anyone when they started this tour with Out In The Cold?!
    Good for them to change it up but I always dug this live version of Private Property on this release. It was good I thought at the time and I did buy the remastered version of this for Screaming For Vengeance and Rock Hard Ride Free…..love those two tracks…..
    It just blew my mind as well like u said with there look as well,I mean I seen em 4 yrs earlier and it was Marshall stacks,ramps,leathers and Metal and than the glam look,perms and over the top live show….
    Kinda trend following esp for Priest but the music was still pretty good…..

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    1. There’s a lot of stuff on this album that Priest could play at any time, and the crowd would go nuts. Rock Hard Ride Free, Sentinel, Out In the Cold…there’s some good shit on this album. My least favourite would have to be Rock You All Around the World.

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    2. Rock hard Ride Free, Hell Bent for Leather … the whole leather boy look …

      How did none of us notice what Rob was trying to tell us? it’s absolutely hilarious in retrospect.

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      1. Apparently the lyrics to Raw Deal are quite explicit. Fire Island is a place in NY apparently associated with gay culture. So there’s a reference to Fire Island, and then this:

        I made the Spike about nine o’clock on a Saturday
        All eyes hit me as I walked into the bar
        The spikey leather guys were foolin with the denim dudes
        A couple cards played rough stuff, New York, Fire Island

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      2. I moseyed up to the counter and the tender came a-grinnin’
        I snapped the smile off his face and snarled “Give me a bourbon”
        The mirror on the wall was collecting and reflecting
        All the heavy bodies ducking, stealing eager for some action
        The scene screwed me up, I saw some contact
        Then there he was, saw me and knew that

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      3. And finally:

        Sex is like a hurricane it grabs and then it shatters
        I was barely holding on to this fine body symphony
        I guess I dream in pictures, not colors
        The true free expression I demand is human rights – right?

        Interpret these lyrics as you wish but I think it’s pretty clear.

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  3. I have the original issue, single CD version, but the 2001 reissue is the hole in my Priest Remasters… Meaning the spines of the Jewel Cases on my shelf say “JUDAS PRIST.” The three bonus tracks featured on the reissue are temptation enough for me to fix this oversight! Thanks for the review.

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    1. Yep that’s the series I’ll be showing off tomorrow. Although mine says JUDAS PRIEST! While taking pictures of it, it looks like mine doesn’t quite line up right. I have a mixture of UK and Canadian printings so maybe that’s why.

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  4. Greath albums of the Fuel for life tour but now this ive got an Priest cd named The Very Best of Judas Priest Live and on that cd you find tree numbers Heading out to the Highway – Breaking the law and Out of the Cold played in Memphis TN 86 but they played not there Strange because this tree numbers are the same as Priest Live 1986 the cd that came out in 1987 maybe a publiciti release

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