Part 272: Priest Week – The Re-Masters

PRIEST WEEK

It’s the end of PRIEST WEEK! It was all Judas Priest all week, and what better way to end it then with a 12 CD remastered box set?
Monday:  Rocka Rolla (1974)
Tuesday: Priest…Live! (1987)

Wednesday: Metal Works 73-93 (1993)
Thursday: Demolition (2001 Japanese version)

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RECORD STORE TALES Part 272:  PRIEST WEEK – The Re-Masters

When Judas Priest began reissuing their albums in 2001 (in three waves of four CDs each), of course I had to have all 12.  I’ve been a fan of the band since I was a kid, and my complete Judas Priest collection has always brought me much joy.  Priest’s “Re-masters” series included all the studio and live albums from 1977’s Sin After Sin to 1990’s Painkiller.  Each was expanded with two bonus tracks, with the exception of the live albums.  Unleashed in the East contained the four bonus tracks from the Japanese Priest in the East release (which I already had) and Priest…Live had three extra songs.  (Today, there is a new budget box set that collects the entire Halford era into one box called The Complete Albums Collection.)

In late 2001, local record store legend Al “the King” dropped into my store to sell some discs.  Nimble-minded readers will recall that on day 1 of Priest Week, Al King sold me my vinyl copy of Rocka Rolla in 1989!  Al now worked at another store in town called Encore Records.  Al’s a good guy.  He didn’t see us so much as competition, because really we catered to different groups of people.  There were certain discs that Al couldn’t sell at Encore (pop and mainstream stuff), and he knew I would give him the fairest prices in town, so he came to me.  It was a good mutually beneficial arrangement.  I wanted his stock and he wanted the money!

On this afternoon, I chatted with Al while going through his discs, and he informed me of a forthcoming Priest collectible.

“It’s expensive,” he began, “but it does look cool.  It’s a UK import.  I sold one to this really excited guy, but Mark’s trying to order another one in.  If you want it no problem, but fair warning, it’s not cheap.”

“Tell me more!” I said to Al.

PRIEST WORKINGThe details were scant.  The box set was titled The Re-Masters, and it contained four CDs with room for the other eight, sold separately.  The CDs included with the box were the first four of the Columbia years:  Sin After Sin, Stained Class, Killing Machine (Hell Bent for Leather) and Unleashed in the East.  It was an attractive box, printed to look like it is held together by metal rivets.  There was also supposed to be a booklet included.  At the time, I was obsessed with collecting the “best” versions of anything.  This meant having all the songs, and the best packaging available.  I asked Al to hold the box for me.  At various points in the conversation, I felt like Al was trying to talk me out of buying it due to the price!  What Al didn’t understand was my deep obsession for this band.

A few days later I headed down to Encore and bought my treasure.  I eagerly opened it up and discovered one little additional bonus!  Nothing major, but cool enough for me:  the four CDs included had embossed silver logos on both front and back covers, instead of the regular printed ones.  This differentiated the discs from the versions I could buy separately at retail.  Also, Hell Bent for Leather was indeed included under the UK name Killing Machine, something I hadn’t seen on CD before. Finally, once all 12 discs were collected, together the CD spines read JUDAS PRIEST and depicted their “devil’s tuning fork” logo.  The spaces for the 8 discs sold separately were taken up by individual foam spacers.

Back covers with silver embossed “tuning fork” logo, and without.

The bonus tracks were a mixed bag of live and demo songs from all over Priest history, but some, such as “Race With the Devil” (The Gun cover) were incredible and classic.  One by one, I added to the set.  Some discs came in used rather quickly:  Point of Entry was one such disc.  Others I had to order via Amazon, or buy in-store at Encore, such as Turbo and Painkiller.  But I did get them all, and my complete Priest Re-Masters set has served me well for over a decade now.  Although I have since bought the newer deluxe editions of Screaming for Vengeance and British Steel (with bonus DVDs) I have felt no need to replace this box set with anything else.  Having to buy the discs individually and complete it myself makes it rare to find, not to mention the box was made only in small numbers.  Some fans expected more out of the box set, and some were upset that the Gull Records and Ripper Owens years are not represented inside, even though Ripper was still the current singer.  My attitude was and is, “Who cares?”  It’s a great looking set and it comprises a complete era of Priest.  I like it a lot and according to Al King I’m one of two guys in town that own it.  Cool.

66 comments

  1. Does “Killing Machine” have “Green Manalishi” as track 7? I understand the original British version of this album lacked this song. As stated in a previous review, I’m not a big fan of the Brick Wall re-mastering on these discs, but it’s how things have been done for awhile now.

    The thing that makes these Remasters stand out compared to “Kiss”, “Van Halen”, and other remastered series is the bonus material. Every single disc in the set has something extra, making these discs a worthwhile purchase.

    The outer box is nice… I wonder if there is a way to acquire the BOX for those of us who picked up these discs individually.

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    1. Hi William, hope you don’t mind me chipping in! Killing Machine does have Green Manalishi added in now but you’re right that it didn’t include it before. Before these remasters I had to buy a US import copy of the album *with the Hell Bent for Leather title) so I could get that track.

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    2. No William, the box was only available when buying the four CDs. That’s one reason why I jumped on it. I knew this could become a scarce item in the future. And yes Green Manalishi is track 7. I guess they decided to standardize the track listing with the reissues.

      I wish Kiss and VH would have released bonus material, but you KNOW those two bands have tons of stuff they are sitting on.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. HAHAH! Hey here’s a thought — printing a copy on a coloured printer and putting it in an empty case? As a collector I totally get where you’re coming from.

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  2. I have this box too! It’s excellent and I remember being really excited about it, making sure I was in on the first day to get the box. I think the release kept getting slightly delayed so there was a few weeks where I had to keep checking the stores with no joy.

    I never noticed any problems with the mastering myself. I thought it was odd that the bonus tracks didn’t always align with the parent album but any bonus tracks are better than none. It’s just a minor niggle. The bonus tracks for the live albums are especially worthwhile and I love Race With the Devil too.

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    1. I think Scott they had relatively few available recordings from the early days. Meanwhile from the Turbo period they had basically half an album left over. So I think that’s why the bonus tracks are all over the place. By the time you get to Painkiller they’re era-appropriate.

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        1. I’m certain they do. Maybe some was harder to clean up with the technology of the time, maybe some is being intentionally held back for later release. I think the odd tracks here and there on these remasters prove how much is indeed in the proverbial vaults.

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        2. I’m certain they do. Maybe some was harder to clean up with the technology of the time, maybe some is being intentionally held back for later release. I think the odd tracks here and there on these remasters prove how much is indeed in the proverbial vaults.

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  3. Very cool set with those embossed logos. I bought these separately so I’ve got that CD-spine “devil’s tuning fork” (thanks for letting me know what that thing is) displayed on my shelf. It’s not as cool as the Eddie image created by the spines of the Maiden reissues, but it’s much more creative than the spines of the Marillion reissues that simply spelled out the band name. I agree that the bonus tracks on the Priest reissues are nothing special but everything else about these discs is very impressive…nothing more so than the music.

    By the way, as someone who’s admitted that he’s OCD, does it bug you that the spelling of “JUDAS PRIEST” on the spines doesn’t line up due to the cuts of each tray card? I’ve worked in the music industry for nearly 30 years, and printing glitches like that have always bugged me even though I’ve learned that there’s nothing you can do about it.

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    1. For what it’s worth, my two cents would bethat it would bug me. I mean, you’re going to all the work to put together a set like this, and you’ve (apparently) got professionals who know what they’re doing printing it for you, so… how on earth does something like that happen? It should line-up. Honestly. It’s not that difficult.

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      1. It’s actually a limitation of the printing process, not something to do with the designers. When the printing plant prints each component they’re on sheets that need to be cut, and multiple sheets will be cut at one time. The cut line will vary slightly depending on where each sheet is in the pile. Normally the variance of a fraction of an inch wouldn’t be that noticeable, but when lined up like this series it becomes an issue. I’ve worked on many CD projects and this is one of those frustrating things I’ve just had to deal with.

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        1. In the case of my CD, I have discs from two countries, two manufacturing plants. So that has to add to the problem.

          I imagine when it comes to stuff like this, tolerances aren’t too tight, if they were it would greatly increase manufacturing costs.

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    2. Yeah it bugs me. And as you said, nothing I can do about it. At least the box is displayed with lid closed, so it’s out of sight and out of mind.

      Correct me if I’m wrong — the Maiden Eddie picture — did you not have to line up the CDs but in reverse order?

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      1. Yes, the Maiden discs need to be in reverse order to display the Eddie head. It was a great idea but the designer(s) didn’t think it through. It’s like those old 2-CD sets in the thick double jewel case. So many of those had spines that printed in the wrong direction because they didn’t think how each tray card would appear in the package. I never made that mistake, but of course I’m great (insert smiley face).

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        1. It was our almighty HMO who pointed out to me that you can keep your Maiden discs in the correct chronological order and still get the picture – just turn the CD cases backwards, so that the black spine is at the back of your shelf.

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        2. I know this will sound crazy, but I don’t like reversing the direction of jewel cases on my shelves. I’m not OCD but I can definitely see the difference when a jewel case is in backwards. For my Maiden Eddie series I opted to put them in normally & have the CDs in reverse chronological order.

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        3. I can see the difference too, much of the time I replace the tray with a coloured tray which makes it stick out even more when it’s backwards. But for me having the writing all go in one direction trumps that.

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        4. The Maiden spines were designed that way so they would display properly in the Eddie Head box set that came out at first. They were ranked from 1st at the top to the last at the bottom which is why they are in reverse order.

          So not a mistake as such… but it still didn’t look that great in the box because the image was then side-on. And I don’t know why they just didn’t use different CD designs for the ones that came in the box and the retail versions. It struck me as not being very well thought through really!

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        5. I don’t think it was cheaper here. I only saw a couple copies but they were over $200. And I didn’t think it looked that good. It did have that bonus interview.

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        6. I don’t even have that anymore! It was pretty crap really. It worked out cheaper for me cause I worked in Borders at the time and got a big discount from it. I remember sitting with a calculator trying to work out the cheapest option. It didn’t look that good at all and it was way too bulky. So it went the way of Virtual XI… into the bin!

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        7. I call those the “fat” jewel cases Rich. In fact the new Def Leppard deluxe comes in one. They’re great for holding 3 and 4 CD sets though. You can even get 6 discs in one with the right bits.

          But I know what you mean, the worst were the ones that had the writing going in two different directions on spines facing the same side. Were you involved with the layout and design?

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        8. Those fat jewel cases are definitely good for multiple-disc sets, but they were way too bulky for just 2 discs. I’ve actually replaced many of them with slimline dual cases, as long as I didn’t lose any packaging. It saved me some shelf space. I have several 4 or 5 disc sets from the UK that work really well in these cases, although if the center hubs ever break on anything but a standard CD tray they’ll be nearly impossible to replace.

          As for packaging, in my current job I’ve done dozens of CD packages. I’m not the designer but I do handle all aspects of production so I have to think ahead about how the completed package will look. Digipaks are just as confusing as jewel cases, because certain panels are upside down. But eventually you get used to it and it all makes sense.

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        9. Rich, when I need new CD case elements that are hard to replace, I go to Sleeve City. Not the cheapest way, but they have everything you’d need. I usually wait until I need a whole bunch of stuff before I place an order.

          Your job sounds fascinating. Not saying it sounds easy, but having the chance to see this stuff at the manufacturing stage is fascinating to me.

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  4. Oooo that’s a very pretty box set. Gorgeous, in fact. I’ve never seen such a thing. This is why we come to Lebrain’s, folks. He shows off some pretty and amazing stuff. I’m still saving up for the price of admission to tour the Lebrain Archives. Forget museums full of dusty old period-piece chairs and paintings, THIS is where the real tourism hours could be spent.

    Well done again, sir!

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        1. I’m pretty easy going, but the one name I hate is Michel (the French pronunciation). I got teased pretty hard back in French class for that one. My dad calls me Miguel sometimes…I don’t mind that though I have no idea why he does it!

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  5. Really enjoyed “Priest Week”!!! I never had a chance to purchase this box, thinking it was “cost prohibitive”. I did pick up the budget “Complete Album Collection” last year. Regretfully, I paid about the same price at the time, as this beautiful box is fetching today. The budget box is way more straight forward so far as packaging and (no) bonus tracks, just cardboard sleeves, the “Re-Masters” box you discuss here looks far more luxurious!

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    1. Glad you enjoyed Priest Week, Brian! I’m hoping to do more installments. Just yesterday I was watching the new Epitaph DVD, putting some thoughts together.

      I don’t know why the budget box would have no bonus tracks! That is really disappointing.

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  6. Cool looking package and review to go with it Mike. I remember seeing this but as I already owned various Priest I passed on this but the pix u laid out on it kinda make me regret it a bit.
    Than again I own two,copies of Screaming (original and 2013 DVD) and for me the run of Priest from Unleashed to Defenders is my era. Sure I purchased Turbo….half filler,….Ram It Down….Johnny b Goode???…..and well Painkiller…..shit it’s heavy metal!…….but I guess I’m the picky Priest fan!

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    1. Ram It Down could have been a great album, if they only put some different songs on it! The title Track, Hard As Iron, Heavy Metal, Blood Red Skies, are all good tunes. If they had just put on some of these songs we’re not hearing as bonus tracks, it would have been a lot better!

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  7. I’d get the originals. The re-masters are known widely as some of the worst sounding discs out there. The dynamic range is sacrificed for the sake of loudness, they are not the most superior sounding versions. The only versions that are listenable for the Columbia years are the original CD’s that were pressed in the ’80s of Sin After Sin-Ram It Down, Painkiller is good too. Those re-masters are sound terrible in comparison.

    Original Dynamic Range: http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/view/84780
    Re-mastered Dynamic Range: http://dr.loudness-war.info/album/view/44048
    Yuck.

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