Welcome back to GREATEST HITS WEEK! This week we are looking at different, interesting hits albums from various bands. Today we re- visit the Mighty Priest, for the second of a Priest double-shot!
Monday: EXTREME – The Best of Extreme: An Accidental Collication of Atoms? (1997)
Tuesday: JUDAS PRIEST – The Best of Judas Priest (1978/2000 Insight Series)
JUDAS PRIEST – Greatest Hits (2008 Sony/BMG Steel Box Collection)
Ever buy a CD for no real good reason? I have all these songs, because I already own every song Priest has ever released. I saw this Judas Priest compilation, from the “Sony Steel Box” collection, at my local Best Buy for a few measly dollars. There are a few artists who have hits albums in this collection, such as Aerosmith. I just wanted one of the steel boxes, so I chose Priest. I chose Priest because of the brief, but interesting track listing. There are some odd choices for a greatest hits disc: “Rock Hard Ride Free”, and “Rock You All Around the World”, for example, instead of “Heading Out to the Highway”, “A Touch of Evil”, “Painkiller”, or other better know singles. Hell, where’s “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin'” or any song from Screaming? You do get two “new” songs from Angel of Retribution. Needless to say, for a 10-track hits CD, it was an interesting selection of songs, so I chose this one. I have only played it once, so it’s time to revisit and assign a rating.
This is where we run into the flaw with these Sony steel boxes — the front cover and back cover art is just a sticker, that wraps around the case. When you open the case, it damages the sticker where it covers the hinge, digging huge creases all over the spine. I’ve opened my copy a couple of times and see what it looks like already? That’s me being careful.
“Breaking the Law” has always worked well in the opening position. Off with a bang (literally; the first sound is a snare drum), we are now off to the races. This Greatest Hits concentrates almost entirely on material from British Steel and after, collecting a lot of Priest music from their simple, straightforward metal period of the 1980’s. There is nothing wrong with that of course, but it lacks the balance that earlier more complex tracks like “Victim of Changes” would have brought to the table. “Breaking the Law” and “Living After Midnight”, both classics culled from British Steel, get the job done on a hit laden note. The sound is fine, as it appears these were lifted from the Priest remasters.
I’m not sure the logic in choosing “Out of the Cold”, a synth-laden slow crawler from Turbo. There is nothing wrong with it of course, it was and remains a stormy fan classic. That’s just it though, it’s a fan classic, not a well known hit that the band play in concert. On a 10 song CD, it seems an odd choice, but it leads well into the dark “Love Bites”. I went through a period of about three days in grade 8 of being completely obsessed with this song. The things I liked about it, such as the choppy rhythms and hypnotic vocals, are still striking today. It also flows perfectly into “Rock You All Around the World”, which unfortunately is pretty much just filler that should have been donated to the Scorpions.
I still think it terms of albums having “sides”, and I wonder if whoever sequenced this CD had the same thought? “Rock You All Around the World” is a great side closer, as it filled that slot on Turbo. Then the next track is the very different “Diamonds and Rust” (live version from Unleashed in the East). It’s as if you have started a new side. Another track from Defenders of the Faith (“Rock Hard Ride Free”) brings the listener back to the 80’s. Although it was not a single, it was good enough to be one. Back to the Turbo album for the third time, “Turbo Lover” is a song that still gets occasional radio airplay. It’s funny how this robotic and very dated song is still loved today. I wouldn’t have predicted that.
“Turbo Lover” is the last of the golden oldies, since the last two tracks are off Angel of Retribution, Priest’s glorious reunion album with Rob Halford after a long solo career. Strange though that the single “Revolution” is not one of these tracks. “Deal With the Devil” was an OK tune, a good heavy album tune that was of the same quality as similar songs from Painkiller. “Worth Fighting For” was excellent – a midtempo quiet rocker that almost borders on ballad territory. This song was a triumph, a really excellent song worth of the Priest canon. Unfortunately in this case, a quiet midtempo near-ballad does not work to close a Priest compilation. It works as a song to build into another song, but here it just leaves you hanging. Sloppy sequencing.
Rating the steel book CD is not a reflection on the songs or the band, just the CD itself. There are too many serious omissions (“Metal Gods:, “Freewheel Burning”, hello!) for it to rate highly. The flawed packaging design is the final nail in the steel box.
Thanks to Geoff over at the 1001 Albums in 10 Years for the “Excel”lent inspiration!