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.
Due 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 songs 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 tune 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 “Heading 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.
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.