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”).
The 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!