REVIEW: Judas Priest – Defenders of the Faith – Part Two – Special 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition and 2001 Remaster

For yesterday’s review of the original album, click here.  

JUDAS PRIEST – Defenders of the Faith (2001 Sony reissue, 2014 Special 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)

Let’s start this review by taking a quick look at the bonus tracks that were added to the 2001 Sony remastered CD.  The first is an acoustic ballad called “Turn On Your Light”.  With lead guitars overdubbed later on, this spare acoustic ballad would have been a sharp left turn for the band had it come out on the next album (Turbo).  It’s very light, even more so than the material that made the album.  On the other hand, given the musical climate of the era, maybe it could have been a hit that propelled Priest to heights previously unseen.  We’ll never know.  The second bonus track comes from Long Beach on the Defenders tour.  It is the duo of “Heavy Duty” and “Defenders of the Faith”, but we’ll get into it later as it’s also included (albeit remixed) in the 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition we’re about to discuss.  Important to note:  the 30th Anniversary does not include “Turn On Your Light”.  If you want to get that song, you have to get the 2001 version.

When I was a kid, around the time of Defenders of the Faith, I can remember listening to a live Priest concert with the next door neighbour George.  We were on his picnic table in the side yard, listening to it on the radio.  That must have been Long Beach, May 5 1984, the show included in the Anniversary Deluxe set.  Spread over two discs, it’s a full Priest show with nine of the ten new songs played.  Only the controversial “Eat Me Alive” was not played.

“Love Bites” is an unusual set opener, but of course they did use “Out in the Cold” on the following tour too.  The mix is bass-heavy with Ian Hill up front for some reason.  Barking Rob spits out the words like bullets.  Sticking with new material, it’s “Jawbreaker”, the second track on Defenders, performed at light speed.  Rob says hello to 13,000 heavy metal maniacs and then dives into the oldies.  Three well-received number from British Steel in a row:  “Grinder”, “Metal Gods”, and “Breaking the Law”.  Though robotic in tempo these songs were and still are landmarks for the band.  “Breaking the Law” is the most lively, with Rob acting as the cheerleader in concert.

They reach way back for “Sinner”, which again suffers from the Dave Holland treatment on drums.  It’s too fast and stiff.  Fortunately, Halford belts out the chorus in scream-form with earnest.  “Desert Plains” comes next, a song for which there are few live versions available.  It’s a bit too fast, with pulse of the original song lost, but strong nonetheless.

Another batch of new songs follow, all awesome in their own right:  “Some Heads are Gonna Roll”, “The Sentinel”, “Hard Hard Ride Free” and “Night Comes Down”.  It speaks to the strength and popularity of the album that the set looks like this.  These are ably performed, though Rob’s voice sounds very raw on “The Sentinel”.  The crowd goes completely nuts when, before “Rock Hard Ride Free”, he announces that five million people are listening live on the radio!  Unfortunately due to his sore-sounding voice, the version on Priest…Live makes for better listening.  “Night Comes Down” (issued in an alternate live mix on the Ram It Down 2001 remaster) is one of Priest’s most unsung triumphs, a ballad of sorts set in the dusk.  Try listening to it when the sun is going down some time.

Strangely, “Electric Eye” is the first song from the previous hit album Screaming For Vengeance, an album that is largely ignored here in favour of the new one.  Next it’s a last gasp of new songs in the form of “Freewheel Burning” and the anthemic duo “Heavy Duty” and “Defenders of the Faith”.  These are a treat.  Rob uses “Defenders” to get the crowd to do a singalong.  “Freewheel” is pretty manic, and then it’s into the set-ending classics.

“Victim of Changes” can’t help but be the centrepiece of the set.  It’s a serious Priest epic and isn’t rushed through like other songs.  This version is just a little bit different.  “Green Manalishi” is dutifully tough, though every version with Dave Holland is intrinsically and unfortunately inferior to the one with Les Binks.  The guitar solos are note perfect and full of sparks.  Moving on to “Living After Midnight”, it’s big blockheaded fun.  “Hell Bent for Leather” is a high speed thrill as always, and then Priest finally end it on “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” and the inevitable and annoying “Oh-oo-oh-oo-oh-yeah” crowd singalong.

The 30th Deluxe has a booklet with several live pictures — none of former drummer Dave Holland however.  (If you don’t know why, Google him and guess.)  The remastering of the album itself may be new, but the real emphasis is on the complete concert.  The fact that the setlist contained almost all the new album makes it unique among Priest releases.  It’s a show worth returning to and playing again.  If Rob’s voice was less rugged that night, it might have been a live album in its own right.

3.5/5 stars

 

 

 

 

 

36 comments

  1. God I was so disappointed with this. Rob is so hoarse, and barely able to hit any high note. He sounds real rough, and I’m particularly annoyed it had to be for the tour of my favourite album. Such a killer tracklist let down by a shitty performance, and that’s coming from the guy who loves Virtual Lights Strikes Over France

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He’s not wrong, folks. Halford is hoarse. I hope I made that clear enough in the review. Harrison’s not lying.

      But such is the price of a real live album. This baby went out on the radio as-is, and you can bet that Rob wished he was in better voice that night.

      I don’t know if the two things are related, but it’s worth noting that Rob quit drinking and drugs after this tour. Maybe Deke can tell us if that’s related.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It was merely a correlation and not a causation. I believe the deciding thing was when his then-lover committed suicide in front of him sometime after the tour. Deke might have the exact details, but it’s something like that. Sad stuff.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I like this album for what it is…LIVE! I l like how Priest makes these deluxe editions worth it. I bought this on iTunes upon release so its nice to see the packaging Mikey. I agree with what you wrote. Binks could have taken these songs to another level.
    Still though a decent live show and how many acts were basically playing there full albums back then before it became the norm to do about 20 years ago to drum up business?
    Great stuff dude..

    Liked by 2 people

    1. If I was Priest, I would skip a Ram It Down deluxe and go straight to Painkiller. With a live show. First tour with Scott. That would be nice.

      And you’re right, in 1984 nobody played 9/10ths of their new album live in a single set. And they played Eat Me Alive other times anyway. It’s on A Touch of Evil Live.

      Thanks buddy!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I believe they are currently writing a new LP, but we’re going to need lots of music to get us through Lockdown 2.0!

          On a side note, I can’t fucking believe it’s Lockdown 2.0 now. We had this curve flattened in August.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Yeah that sucks. I can only hope we don’t go down that same route with the softening of our state’s border. As always, stay safe.

          Liked by 1 person

        1. Music Express and Metallion mag where prime music bibles for me on keeping up with Canuck stuff.
          Kerrang/ Circus/Hit Parader/Creem/ Faces/ RIP were the others…
          man between mags and records no wonder I had no fuckin money! lol

          Liked by 1 person

        2. I bought Hit Parader almost exclusively, but there were others like Circus and Faces. Len Labelle has all my old magazines. I gave them away because I thought I wouldn’t have room for them anymore.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. YES AARON IT DOES. Thank you. That’s my peave. It would be nice to have two CDs in one set with all the tracks. However, my 2001 copy of Defenders of the Faith is in a box set of 12 albums, so I wouldn’t be getting rid of it. Just annoying that you have to rip all the discs, put the tracks on the PC, and put ’em together properly yourself.

      Like

      1. Unless there’s some savvy record label person out there rubbing their hands together with glee for some later Anniversary, and THEN they’ll put it together so you’ll buy it all AGAIN…

        Like

      1. But I like “Ram It Down”, straight through the heart of this town.

        And when the power chords come crashing down, they go tearing through my senses.

        So many good lyrical lines. And I agree they more or less pushed that album to the back of the pile.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I liked Ram It Down when it came out, at least most of it. Title track, Heavy Metal, Hard as Iron, Blood Red Skies. But when Painkiller came out, I felt like “This is what they tried to do on Ram It Down, but couldn’t with Dave Holland on drums.”

          Liked by 1 person

Rock a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s