REVIEW: Judas Priest – British Steel (30th Anniversary Edition, pt. 2)

Yesterday we examined Judas Priest’s British Steel, the original album and first CD of this three disc set.  Today we’ll look at the live stuff and packaging.  If you missed yesterday’s installment, click here.

 

JUDAS PRIEST – British Steel (30th Anniversary Edition, 2010 Sony)

You could buy the British Steel 30th Anniversary Edition in several configurations:

  • A CD/DVD set with the album and a live DVD of  British Steel played live in 2009,
  • A 2 CD/DVD set with the live 2009 concert duplicated on CD (minus one song),
  • iTunes download with all the music from both CDs plus the missing song (“Prophecy”).

BRITISH STEEL_0005The 2 CD/DVD edition is beautifully housed in digipack, with lots of photos in a nice booklet with essay. The photos are all from their recent tour; none are vintage, which disappointed me. I would have loved some fly-on-the-wall photos of them recording this album at Ringo Starr’s house, Tittenhurst Park. Maybe no such photos exist?

The second CD, only available in this edition, is packed to the brim.  “Prophecy” wouldn’t have fit or the CD would have run over 80 minutes.  Otherwise, it is a straight stereo mix of the same content on the DVD.  With audio being my primary medium to enjoy, I obviously needed the version that came with the live CD.  The iTunes bonus track was available for separate purchase, so that was easy to add to my files, once ripped.

The third disc of course is the DVD. Backed by a British Steel backdrop, Priest played the album in sequence remarkably well considering their ages! Only drummer Scott Travis wasn’t around for the original album, but he plays the drum parts pretty straight to the original, minus Dave Holland’s robotic coldness.

The main question people have when discussing Priest live is, “What was Halford’s voice like?” It is true that he is an older man today and has to restrain himself and change arrangements in order to sing the songs. This is no exception, but man, when he screams, he still has it! He just screams less, which makes sense. The vocal melodies of some songs have been re-arranged, which may or may not be to your taste. Surely, the vocal melody is such an important part of each song. Halford sings what sounds like harmony parts to the original melodies in order to sneak around certain high parts. It is what it is. And, as per many concerts, the audience sings some choruses on their own when it comes to the big hits.

I was pretty impressed with the live stuff after British Steel. This is surely one of the best live versions of “Victim of Changes”. Halford nails that angry end scream perfectly, I thought his head would explode. “Hell Patrol” was a nice touch. “Freewheel Burning” stumbles a bit. “Prophecy” was excellent, and I’m glad a Nostradamus track was included. Halford seems to relish spitting out the words.  Satisfyingly, “Diamonds and Rust” is done in its electric version. An excellent surprise. The album ends, predictably, with Halford’s “audience participation” thing, and “Another Thing Coming” which I could probably do without at this point.

One thing I’m starting to notice, is that Priest are sort of nerdy live. From Rob’s audience participation thing (“Yeah, yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah YEAH yeah!”), to the stage moves, to Scott Travis’ weird drum stick thing on “United”, this is the concert equivalent of a Star Trek convention in some ways. But Priest have never been trendy, and they’ve always seemed oblivious to it. I guess that’s what makes them cool.

The DVD is rounded out by 30 minutes of interviews with Rob, KK, Glenn and Ian (no Scott).  This is the kind of thing most people would probably only watch once, especially when the Classic Albums series already released a full DVD of the making of British Steel.

Now to the British Steel 30th Anniversary set as whole:  As good a package as this is, I wish there was less emphasis on the “today” portion and more attention paid to the 30th anniversary of the original album. There is at least one unofficial full concert CD from the 1980 tour out there (live in Denver), released unofficially. Surely Priest could have included some vintage live recordings as well?.

4/5 stars. Despite my beefs, this is a great collection for your collection!

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23 comments

      1. OMG 19 songs…guessing there will be some of those short connecting pieces. I didnt like Redeemer of Souls on my first listen….although some of Nostradamus actually grew on me.

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        1. Mike I think it’s like 14 songs on the standard, and 19 on the deluxe. As far as I’m concerned I see no reason to not buy the deluxe.

          Granted that can be a lot of music to digest, but so was Nostradamus, and bands don’t release new albums every couple years anymore. Maybe it’s best to think of it as a double album anyway, even at 14 tracks.

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        2. Remember those good ol days of an album ever6y year! You are more of a collector than I am. I would rather hear a handful of A material, than a double album…which killed GNR IMO.

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      2. I would buy the deluxe as well. But I can’t for my life see any reason to release a 19 track album. It’s insane. Who will be able to go through that album back to back on the spot? It’s too much to digest. If you have 19 awesome songs (in your opinion), then just release 11 on one album, save the rest and write three more and release them on a new album a year later. This is overkill.

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        1. I have a hard time listening to long albums front to back Jon. If I want to listen to a long album (or a deluxe) I find the best setting for me is the car. I can take all week to listen to it. But in one sitting? No. Never happens.

          When I get and review Priest I’m sure it will a long laboured effort to talk about all the songs.

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  1. Mike as would be no surprise to u I bought this on iTunes and got a steal of a deal as they had it on preorder for $9.99 which I knew was a glitch so I preordered it (they also did this last yr with the audio of Maiden England which also they glitched so I preordered that one and saved a few bucks as well before they caught on and changed the price) and after it was officially released it went up. Some dude posted that it was a steal of a deal ..hahahaha…..his comments are still there from 4 yrs ago.
    This was one of the few times that iTunes gave the whole package including the making of and the credits/inside packaging.
    So for that I was impressed! Lol
    But really I just liked the idea that Priest redid this all live so for that my curiosity was totally peaked and it didn’t disappoint me!
    Love the live stuff on it ….
    This is right up there with Unleashed & the live Vengenace (Memphis) discs…
    Great review as always chum!

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    1. $10 is an amazing price for this set, plus you get Prophecy!

      I hope Priest do something like this again, Screaming would be a great album to do front to back live.

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  2. Yeah for sure..Screaming would be awesome….I did buy the 30th Anniversary package…..of it just wish there was more live audio to it!

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    1. Yeah exactly! If they had done a 3 disc version exactly the same as this, I would have loved that! A whole CD of the US festival? Sign me up.

      Of course this just sets them up to release that as its own live album, or in a box set, or whatever, when retirement comes.

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  3. Yeah Priest & The Scorpions the never ending farewell world tours!
    Than again The Who have been on a farewell tour since 1982
    They set the bar!

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      1. They did write a contract. They might record new stuff as Mötley but they can never tour again. Unless there’s a loophole somewhere in the contract.

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  4. This also sounds (by your description) truly great. This is a band high on the list for discovery, for me. Your write-ups like this ensure it.

    Also: “this is a great collection for your collection”… I am collecting my thoughts on this. ;)

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    1. Well, I think you said somewhere that you didn’t need the whole shebang deluxe thing, and aside from what Deke said (this being one of their best live albums) I agree. Get British Steel.

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      1. Oooo twist my rubber arm! Yeah, you’re right, I don’t need all the bonus tracks on my edition. I like to rock the records and, on my limited budget, $10 beats $30 (and up) any day. I’ll leave the serious collecting to you lot!

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  5. British Steel is one of those cornerstone albums you need in your record collection in order to call yourself a music fan. Or at least a rock fan. There are a few of them out there. I’m not sure I need this edition, though.

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    1. Not unless you want a live document of the current Priest playing the album. Which is still good, don’t get me wrong…I know you’re not into live stuff quite so much.

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