Its PRIEST WEEK! Yesterday’s installment: Rocka Rolla (1974).
JUDAS PRIEST – Priest…Live! (1987, 2001 Sony 2 CD remastered edition)
I have a long history with Priest…Live! My cassette was originally bought at Stedman’s in Kincardine Ontario, July 1987. An LP copy was sold to me by a co-worker named Chris from his own collection about a decade later. Finally I bought a 2 CD remaster which is the last version I hope I’ll need.
Priest…Live!was my first Priest live album. I got the albums out of order: Defenders, Screaming, Turbo, Priest Live. Then, after discovering the pre-Screaming songs for the first time, I slowly began expanding backwards: Point of Entry, British Steel, Unleashed, Rocka Rolla, Sad Wings…
Because of this album’s crucial role of introducing me to “old Priest”, I have a really hard time being critical about it. I will say this: This version of “Metal Gods” with the really melodic chorus is awesome. It’s my favourite version of this song, by a fair bit. I don’t know if that was live or overdubs or backing tapes or whatever. It sounds really cool.
Regardless of how I feel about “Metal Gods”, I can tell you that Priest Live covers pretty most all of the critical post-Unleashed numbers from 1980 (British Steel) to 1986 (Turbo). You get all the tracks you’d expect from the 1980’s: “Freewheel Burning”, “Turbo Lover”, “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin'”, “Living After Midnight”, “Heading Out To The Highway”. Clearly the concept here is to have no songs that overlap with the band’s previous live album, Unleashed in the East, a tactic used by other bands such as Kiss, on records like Kiss Alive II. While being fair to the fans economically speaking, as a live concert experience that means you’re missing out on “Green Manalishi”.
Luckily this remaster is now expanded to two CDs, and decked out with three bonus tracks including the crucial “Hell Bent For Leather”, but this remains the only holdover from the pre-1980 period. While the home video/DVD version of Priest Live contains “Green Manalishi”, that video was taken from just one show (Dallas, Texas) while the CD has songs from an Atlanta concert as well. Essentially the CD and DVD versions are two different things. In addition to “Green Manalishi”, the DVD also has “Locked In” and “Desert Plains”. Live versions of these songs do exist on Priest remasters, but they are different versions, not the Dallas recordings.
Live in Dallas, but not the version on the album.
I enjoy the running order. To begin the concert with the mellow and dramatic “Out In the Cold” was a really cool, daring move. It sets the stage for a dramatic concert. From there it’s pedal to the metal: “Heading Out to the Highway”, “Metal Gods”, “Breaking the Law”…
I know from an old Guitar World interview that KK and Glenn felt the album could have been mixed better, that too much time was spent “fixing it” in the mix. Sure enough the crowd noise sounds artificially enhanced and there are backing vocals that I am certain are not live. Otherwise, the record sounds pretty good! But that could just be the nostalgia talking. The guitars could have had more teeth; it was the 80’s though. Dave Holland’s snare sound is in the annoyingly high range, but these are not major concerns. Halford’s interaction with the crowd is more friendly than usual, which is nice especially after viewing something like the Rising in the East DVD. He does do a couple annoying sing-alongs, with the crowd…I’m sure it was fun to be there, they’re not fun to listen to on headphones.
One more nostalgic point: I remember buying this back in that summer of the 1987 and thinking, “Why did Priest change their logo?” I loved the old logo. I never really thought this was a good album cover. Very plain, which seemed to be the fashion in the late 80’s, a decade that Priest Live embraces without shame.