REVIEW: Judas Priest – Priest, Live & Rare (1998 Japanese import)

JUDAS PRIEST – Priest, Live & Rare (1998 Sony Japan)

Fun fact:  in 1998, there were three Judas Priest live albums released.  First was the official ’98 Live Meltdown, featuring then-current singer Tim “Ripper” Owens.  There was also Concert Classics, an unauthorised CD from the British Steel tour that the band swiftly took legal action to remove from store shelves.  Finally, a CD called Priest, Live & Rare released by their old label Sony in Japan, featuring a smorgasbord of live B-sides.

Judas Priest’s B-sides don’t garner a lot of attention, but are worth looking in to.  Fortunately, a large assortment of them are collected on this compilation.  Covering a period from 1978 to 1986, Priest released a number of live B-sides (and one remix) that are included here.  Only two (“Starbreaker”, and a version of “Breaking the Law”) were released on CD in the 2004 Metalogy box set.  Because Priest were conscious of giving value to fans, the live B-sides are not the same familiar versions from live albums.

From the “Evening Star” single in 1978 comes “Beyond the Realms of Death”, Judas Priest’s “Stairway to Heaven”, or so some said.  It’s a rather weak comparison, but “Beyond the Realms of Death” does hold special status.  Glen’s solo, though imperfect, drips with the tension that comes from the live performance.  From the same gig, but lifted from the “Take on the World” single comes “White Heat, Red Hot” and “Starbreaker”.  You can hear the life in the songs, from Les Binks’ organic drum work to Rob’s impassioned performance.  The man is in top voice especially on “White Heat, Red Hot”.  Les Binks has an extended energized drum solo on “Starbreaker”.  These are fantastic live versions that need to be in a diehard’s collection.

The next single visited is 1981’s “Hot Rockin'”, with two live B-sides:  “Breaking the Law” and “Living After Midnight” from that year in Holland.  The drum stool has changed hands from Les Binks to Dave Holland, and it is like the band has had a heart transplant.  The difference is notable given that on this CD, Binks went out on a drum solo.  It’s like a pacemaker has been installed and the pulse of the beast has been tamed.  But that’s 80s Priest for you, and with that said, these are two excellent versions of some serious Priest hits.  Refreshing to hear, after the same familiar ones over and over again.

Priest’s set at the 1983 US Festival has not been released on CD yet, but here are some for you.  (The Festival on DVD is not an issue — the deluxe Screaming for Vengeance contains the whole thing.)  Here you get “Green Manalishi”, “Breaking the Law” and “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming”.  “Green Manalishi” is a fantastic version (at least for one with Dave Holland on drums!) and Rob is peak Halford.  These three tracks are sourced from a live 1983 Japanese “Green Manalishi” EP that costs some fair funds on its own.  (This is the version of “Breaking the Law” that you can also find on the Metalogy box set.)

“Private Propety” (originally from 1986’s Turbo) is a rare live take from St. Louis. It was originally released on the “Parental Guidance” 12″ single.  Therefore it’s not the same one from Priest Live, nor the Turbo 30th anniversary set.  This one predates the release of the others and has a nice untampered quality.  Finally, also from the “Parental Guidance” single, is the only disappointing B-side in this collection.  It’s the “Hi-Octane” extended remix of “Turbo Lover”!  Extended remixes were a popular thing in the 80s.  Every mainstream artist did them; for example Def Leppard, Kiss and Aerosmith.  “Turbo Lover” is one of the poorer such examples.  Were any dance clubs likely to play Judas Priest?  No, but the Priest did try.

Unweildy ham-fisted “Turbo Lover” aside, Priest, Live & Rare is a highly recommended collection to get 10 rare Priest B-sides in one fell swoop.  Definitely cheaper than tracking down all those singles.

4.5/5 stars

 

 

34 comments

  1. Before we got the bonus tracks on Unleashed in the East this would have been an even better deal. Still nice that the overlap isn’t too much, even today.

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  2. This sums up 80s Priest best…

    “The drum stool has changed hands from Les Binks to Dave Holland, and it is like the band has had a heart transplant. ”

    This is a cool one to own Mikey. Never knew it existed until now! Nice to see just not the same ol same ol added. Great stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes and no…I’d never just say “I don’t want those” but it’s not a high priority. I kind of like the idea of what Deke and John are doing, getting all the Maiden or Kiss on vinyl albums. I have some but not all, and for those bands I kind of want all.

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        2. I totally get that. As long as the tunes are in the house! And old original LPs, I assume, not remastered new ones? And then there’s me, not even really a KISS guy (I mean I appreciate it but I don’t collect) and I probably have 15 LPs of theirs oh man.

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        3. Originals preferred in this case yes. I have some reissues but I figure I’m at a point in my life where we have access to vinyl in great shape, albeit for a price. I’ve always wanted those albums on vinyl because they remind me of childhood.

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        4. Originals are best, unless it’s an album you really want perfect (180g, special edition, etc), but the new prices kill me – $50 for one normal LP! Haha whut. My childhood would be cassette and, let’s face it, I won’t likely go back there…

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        5. Yes the CDs didn’t seem to have a place yet! But the vinyls always looked so great on the front rack. Even if you walked by the store while they were closed, you could see what they had in their top sellers.

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        6. Yup. Now it’s all knick knacks and crap at the front of Sunrise. Yawn. Last time I was in there, which was before lockdown, their New Release CDs were on one end-cap, at the back end of a row!

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        7. Hahahaha oh man, no. ;) I don’t even go in there anymore. I mean, not that I could, I think, we’re back in yellow alert level now here, but even before all this shite happened, I just avoided the place. Which is a shame, to have some dumbass ruin (pretty much) the only record store in town for me. I posted about her and her nonsense already, ages ago. I don’t know how she still has that job.

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        8. We are in the red starting Monday. For me personally I don’t think this will change much from day to day, but for Jen it is difficult. She has routines, and they’re safe ones, but going into red, she’s going to be staying home for the coming days. We’re doing our part. I will tell you Aaron that I am deeply disappointed because we have sacrificed so much.

          Anyway, Japanese imports are very expensive, but that’s what CD Japan is for!

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        9. I understand, I’ve been in the house since March. I get out once a week, Saturday morning. That’s it. We’ve all sacrificed. Sacrifice is the only way to get through this, for all of us, though, so I learned to just let go of what I might want, sometimes.

          Japanese imports are very expensive? WHO KNEW! ;)

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    1. I’ve seen the title “Live & Rare” used on Japanese releases before. There’s a Deep Purple Live & Rare for example. And it’s accurate! These are (mostly) live and all of them are rare! I had no idea most of them even existed.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great write-up Mike! I don’t know much about the Japanese imports or Priest’s live albums, but I love the detail you put into this post. Giving the audience a taste of what to expect on ‘Priest, Live and Rare.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Lana! You’re going to see a lot of Japanese imports here if you keep reading. And yes, I have Def Leppard Japanese imports. Some from the X period, some from Euphoria, some from Sparkle Lounge.

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