REVIEW: Judas Priest – A Touch of Evil – Live (2009 Japanese and iTunes versions)

JUDAS PRIEST – A Touch of Evil – Live (2009)

A Touch of Evil is, depending on how you count, either Priest’s 5th or 7th live album.  Regardless, it’s their first official live album since the Rob Halford reunion. The goal here was to give fans versions of songs never before released live on CD. However, when Priest claim that, they’re not counting the live albums they did with “Ripper” Owens on vocals, or the live songs released on remasters and box sets.

This is a great CD, and it’s very well recorded and mixed. Tom Allom came back to the mixing board after a 21 year break from the Priest. The guitars are driving, the drums are loud & clear but not overwhelming. Allom has done a great job. You can’t hear any obvious tampering or overdubbing (even though, let’s be honest, you know on every live album released today there must be some).

Rob Halford’s voice really struggles on “Painkiller” but absolutely shreds on “Hellrider”. “Hellrider”, in fact, is even better than its 2005 studio version. Halford is now singing in a lower register and saving his screams for special moments in the songs. Don’t forget, he has been screaming for 35 years by this album. He tends to be stronger on more recent material. The rest of the band show no signs of slowing down at all, especially Scott Travis on the drums.

It is absolutely great to hear two songs from the Nostradamus CD recorded live. “Prophecy” is one of my favourites from that album and I hope the band get to play the whole album live one day. It is also fantastic to hear “Dissident Aggressor” which was originally released on Sin After Sin in 1977. It is still heavy and powerful, although Rob has changed the vocal melodies a bit, out of necessity. “Beyond The Realms Of Death” is another great one to have with Rob singing, from 1978’s Stained Class. For a while in 1990 I thought they’d never play it live again, after the band’s “suicide trial”, even though they emerged victorious.

Japanese bonus tracks are “Worth Fighting For” and “Deal With The Devil” both from 2005’s Angel Of Retribution. I think these (and “Hellrider) are the same versions as the Rising In The East DVD. “Worth Fighting For” is one of my favourite recent Priest tunes.  It’s a great mid-tempo burner.  The iTunes bonus track is “Breaking The Law”, the only song absolutely positively undeniably released before on an official Priest-with-Rob live CD (Priest…Live!). This version of “Breaking” is faster than the studio version, and very enjoyable for the sheer glee that emanates from it.

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The artwork for this CD, sadly, sucks. Mark Wilkinson has done some great covers for Priest (see: Painkiller), Iron Maiden, and Marillion. Here there’s a picture of the world on fire, or something. A comment on global warming? You decide. The liner notes also, sadly, suck. There are no indications as to which shows these songs were taken from, or even which tour (the CD culls from 2005 and 2008 tours). There is a brief note from the band about how awesome they are, as they have done on previous live albums. There are some cool pictures, but little else (the Japanese version has lyrics).

I don’t think this CD is essential to anybody but Priest fans. Newcomers would be wiser to buy Unleashed In The East first, and maybe even Priest…Live! before buying this. Priest fans will enjoy hearing live versions of these songs, because they already own “Another Thing Coming” and “Living After Midnight” elsewhere. So, if you are a Priest fan, pick it up and enjoy the sonic blast of metal fury as only Priest can deliver!

4/5 stars

*Note: There is supposedly a Russian version with another bonus track, also taken from the Rising in the East DVD: “Angel”. I question whether this is an official release or not.

11 comments

  1. And see, I’d have guessed that there was a dirth of “burning worlds” heavy metal album covers out there, and this was just another in the long line of them.

    I’m still a relative noob when it comes to Priest, but a live album this late in the game might not be what I am after. I think I’d want the early stuff first. Ain’t that always the way.

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        1. In the ideal world you’re right. In my world, I tend to buy whatever happens to cross my path first affordably.

          For example Queen. I meant to buy their albums all in order and I started with Queen I. And then that plan went to crap when I found them all out of order :P

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        2. Yeah I can’t think of a band where I went back into a discography and started at the beginning and bought my way to the present… unless I got into them on the first record and then just kept buying them. This would be impossible with Priest since they started before I was born…

          I’ve been known to buy a band’s output in one fell swoop, if the price is right (usually three or four CDs together).

          But yeah, I’m with you. Most of the time it’s snagging things as they wash up on my shores, all out of order chronologically.

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        3. It would be nice to track a band album by album in sequence, but it’s usually what washes up on my shores too. There are lots of bands I have followed from the first album…Guns N’ Roses for example…but it doesn’t FEEL the same!

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  2. I picked this up its good but for me when I think of live a Priest I always go back to Unleashed and the Live Vengenace . Even Priest Live occasionally ( I really liked the remastered job with Rock Hard Ride Free and Screaming tacked on)

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    1. Priest Live is a damn good collection. What it lacks in early stuff it makes up in the 80’s stuff.

      I think Priest have yet to really release a definitive career spanning live album with Rob. The current live DVD is as close as we get (Epitaph).

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