REVIEW: Judas Priest – Metal Works 73-93

PRIEST WEEK

Its PRIEST WEEK!  
Monday:  Rocka Rolla (1974)
Tuesday: Priest…Live! (1987)

JUDAS PRIEST – Metal Works 73-93 (1993)

1973 to 1993? But didn’t the first album (Rocka Rolla, which has no songs on this CD) come out in 1974? Doesn’t this CD only actually include music from 1977-1990?  And didn’t Al Atkins form the original Judas Priest in 1969?  1973 was the year that Atkins left to be replaced by Rob Halford, who himself quit in 1992. So, 1973-1993? OK, I guess I’ll play along.

METAL WORKS_0005Due to complications and conflicts with Gull Records, Metal Works 1973-1993 contains no songs from the first two albums (the aforementioned Rocka Rolla and Sad Wings of Destiny). Instead, a live version (from Unleashed in the East) of “Victim of Changes” is subbed in to represent the early period of the Priest. After that, every album is given a look-see.

Aside from the tracks that couldn’t be included for legal reasons, it is hard to argue with most of this track list. It is a near-perfect representation of pre-Ripper Priest, with the odd track I’d swap out for another, but more or less awesome all the way through. Personally I think “Night Crawler” is and pretty much always has been an excessively cheesy song…like sharp cheddar. I would have put on something else from Painkiller, like “Between The Hammer and the Anvil” or the battering “Hell Patrol”.  

Most conspicuous by its absence is “Green Manalishi”. Maybe the band decided not to include a cover (Fleetwood Mac), even if it’s one of the best things that Priest have ever recorded.   I think “Green Manalishi” today is equally associated with Priest than Fleetwood Mac, if not more so by a hair.  It may as well be their own song.

Many longtime personal faves are included: I love “Bloodstone”, “Desert Plains”, “Night Comes Down”, and “Blood Red Skies”.  These are songs that weren’t necessarily “hits”, but were huge hits with my teenage self.  There’s one inclusion that bugs me, and that’s “Headed Out to the Highway”.  I love that song, but unfortunately somebody chose to use the Priest…Live! version over the original Point of Entry track.  Furthermore, none of the live substitutions are listed as such on the back cover.  There is no indication on the back that any songs are anything but the original.  I consider that dishonest.

METAL WORKS_0003

The liner notes are interesting for a quick read; tales from four of Judas Priest’s members (Rob, Ian, KK and Glenn) for each of the songs. Nothing earth shattering, just some fun brief stories. It’s interesting, however, how Priest completely glossed over Rob’s departure in the liner notes. Indeed, by reading, one would have no idea he was gone. A little misleading to the metal mongers of the time, especially with Rob about to debut his new band Fight a couple months later….

This 2 CD set is polished off with some fine artwork from Mark Wilkinson, tying in the “metal works” theme with a nod to Birmingham with some iconic characters and images from Priest covers past.  The Painkiller does battle with the bird of prey from Screaming For Vengeance, with lots going on in the background.

The summer of ’93 was loaded with expensive sets for metal fans to buy.  Ozzy Osbourne put out the double Live & Loud.  Van Halen released Live: Right Here, Right Now, also a 2 CD set.  Iron Maiden had two separate single disc live albums, followed by a double live in the fall.  That right there is a lot of cash to be spent, and that’s just a handful of essential purchases that fans had to choose from.   There was a ton of new music to buy, not including the grunge bands vying for our dollars that year.   Priest failed to deliver in terms of value.  Metal Works 73-93 was an expensive collection featuring no music fans didn’t have, and those darned live tracks.  It felt tossed off.

3/5 stars

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30 comments

  1. Your right about cash being spent In the summer of 93 and of all the albums you listed I bought em all except for ironically MetalWorks!! More or less for the fact that it was stuff I already heard. That was a crazy summer for releases I just remember being kinda bummed by Halens live album not sounding errrr so Live as it would say it sounds sterile and the fact that they left off This Dream Is Over but it was on VHS so I bought that and I only ever watched it once as the multiple editing shots from different nights was aweful to watch ie one shot Eddie is wearing a yellow shirt,next shot Eddie is wearing a green shirts,like c’mon !!!
    Anyways for Priest for some reason I never layed down any cash for this ……
    I guess i was just waiting for the Live Vengeance release……What a live album!!!!

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    1. Deke I never saw the VH VHS…lame! Other bands at least wear the same wardrobe night to night so the video looks like all in one night!

      I bought it because I wanted to have a complete collection of official Judas Priest releases. The funny thing is I’ve let that go since then. There’s that new CD out, where other musicians picked the tracks. Didn’t get it.

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      1. Mike check out VHND today ironically they talk about how VH released Right Here…..to,block a David Lee Roth Van Halen Greatest Hits set….20 yrs later..the truth comes out….

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        1. I knew that — maybe you remember Michael Anthony saying in MEAT Magazine that they were going to release two greatest hits albums? One with Dave and one with Sammy. Needless to say that it did not happen and the live album happened instead!

          MEAT scooped VHND!

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  2. I was teeing up to buy this at one point, and I remember you telling me some of these things about it. The live track thing was the killer of the plan, for me. I dislike live tracks on Hits collections anyway (as I’ve ranted a time or two before). It’s still a neat way to get a few of the main tracks for a guy like me who only owns Rocka Rolla/Sad Wings and, recently, Nostradamus. Oh, and Turbo on vinyl. But it’d be a pain in the arse skipping unlabelled live tracks. Meh.

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        1. Original non-remastered Priest CDs should be easy to find, one by one, in TO or Kitchener for fairly low. $8 or less I would think. Vinyl? Should be able to score some of those too. If you want to. I will help.

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  3. Good review of my favorite Priest Comp. When I purchased this in 1993, I was not familiar with the entire Priest back catalog… Since then, I have purchased the entire discography, but most these songs remain favorites. Yes, “Green Manalishi” is missing, with two other awesome tracks from “Hell Bent For Leather” represented. I would suggest getting this title as a stand-alone, with the best version being the Audio Fidelity Gold release from a few years back.

    One thing worthy of comment is the mastering. Every track on Metal Works sounds fuller cleaner than the original issue CDs. However, they don’t suffer from the near brick-wall compression of “The Remasters” series from 2001.

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    1. Well William, I’ll be talking about The Re-Masters series on Friday. To be honest I never had a problem with the mastering on it. Then again I thought many of the original CDs sounded good too. I bought it for the bonus tracks.

      I had no idea Audio Fidelity released a gold version of this. THAT must have been expensive.

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    1. Oh for sure. Why don’t you get Mark to sign that copy?

      That sounds gorgeous though, I didn’t know such a thing existed. If you get a chance and it’s not too much work I’d be dying to know which 10 tracks they distilled it down to.

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      1. Sorry – missed your reply.

        1. Electric Eye
        2. Victim of Changes
        3. Painkiller
        4. Turbo Lover
        5. Exciter

        6. You’ve Got Another Thing Coming
        7. Heading Out To The Highway
        8. The Sinner
        9. Screaming For Vengeance
        10. Night Crawler

        Pretty much a best of by itself, gotta love ‘Electric Eye’ ! There’s a little sticker which says ‘Pure classic Priest! Play loud and often. Ten tracks from the forthcoming album ‘Metal Works 73-93”.

        My work here is done.

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        1. Thanks man! Much appreciated — interesting that Electric Eye opens, without The Hellion. When you get down to reviewing I definitely want to know how that sounds.

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    2. I cannot attach a photo to this comment, but here is a URL to the waveform for “Delivering the Goods” on “Hell Bent for Leather / The Remasters” series. Notice how square the waveform looks at it’s peaks. Much of the song is at maximum amplitude, meaning that dynamics were crushed in the process of making this song “louder”.

      http://tinypic.com/r/2prbgrc/8

      Here is a link to the waveform of the Audio Fidelity Gold remaster of the same song. Notice that it has natural looking peaks and valleys. There’s headroom for dynamics.

      http://tinypic.com/r/2motma9/8

      Yes, Judas Priest should be LOUD… That’s why I have a volume knob on my stereo!

      In order to make a waveform is louder, dynamics must be compressed, and peak levels get “cropped” as the overall amplitude of the waveform is maximized. This creates distorting that is akin to an amplifier that is clipping. Dynamic range is reduced, and it just doesn’t sound as good.

      If you want, I can also provide waveforms for the Original Issue CD and the version from the Metal Works comp. The Metal Works mastering is a close second to the Audio Fidelity. The original issue on Hell Bent is not bad either.

      However, I’m not very happy with the thin sound of my original issue “Sin After Sin”, or the brickwalled sound from 2001 remaster. The masterings of “Dissident Aggressor” and “Sinner” from “Metal Works” are the best sounding versions available, IMHO.

      I understand your critique of Metal Works as feeling “tossed off” with nothing new to offer the established fan-base, but my exposure to Priest was limited to “British Steel” and “Screaming for Vengeance” at the time. This comp was an eye opener for me! Also, I managed to find a used copy at CD Warehouse in 1993 (or maybe early ’94), so the investment to acquire this double CD wasn’t too expensive.

      I look forward to your review of the bonus material from The Remasters series.

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