It’s the end of PRIEST WEEK! It was all Judas Priest all week, and what better way to end it then with a 12 CD remastered box set?
Monday: Rocka Rolla (1974)
Tuesday: Priest…Live! (1987)
Wednesday: Metal Works 73-93 (1993)
Thursday: Demolition (2001 Japanese version)
RECORD STORE TALES Part 272: PRIEST WEEK – The Re-Masters
When Judas Priest began reissuing their albums in 2001 (in three waves of four CDs each), of course I had to have all 12. I’ve been a fan of the band since I was a kid, and my complete Judas Priest collection has always brought me much joy. Priest’s “Re-masters” series included all the studio and live albums from 1977’s Sin After Sin to 1990’s Painkiller. Each was expanded with two bonus tracks, with the exception of the live albums. Unleashed in the East contained the four bonus tracks from the Japanese Priest in the East release (which I already had) and Priest…Live had three extra songs. (Today, there is a new budget box set that collects the entire Halford era into one box called The Complete Albums Collection.)
In late 2001, local record store legend Al “the King” dropped into my store to sell some discs. Nimble-minded readers will recall that on day 1 of Priest Week, Al King sold me my vinyl copy of Rocka Rolla in 1989! Al now worked at another store in town called Encore Records. Al’s a good guy. He didn’t see us so much as competition, because really we catered to different groups of people. There were certain discs that Al couldn’t sell at Encore (pop and mainstream stuff), and he knew I would give him the fairest prices in town, so he came to me. It was a good mutually beneficial arrangement. I wanted his stock and he wanted the money!
On this afternoon, I chatted with Al while going through his discs, and he informed me of a forthcoming Priest collectible.
“It’s expensive,” he began, “but it does look cool. It’s a UK import. I sold one to this really excited guy, but Mark’s trying to order another one in. If you want it no problem, but fair warning, it’s not cheap.”
“Tell me more!” I said to Al.
The details were scant. The box set was titled The Re-Masters, and it contained four CDs with room for the other eight, sold separately. The CDs included with the box were the first four of the Columbia years: Sin After Sin, Stained Class, Killing Machine (Hell Bent for Leather) and Unleashed in the East. It was an attractive box, printed to look like it is held together by metal rivets. There was also supposed to be a booklet included. At the time, I was obsessed with collecting the “best” versions of anything. This meant having all the songs, and the best packaging available. I asked Al to hold the box for me. At various points in the conversation, I felt like Al was trying to talk me out of buying it due to the price! What Al didn’t understand was my deep obsession for this band.
A few days later I headed down to Encore and bought my treasure. I eagerly opened it up and discovered one little additional bonus! Nothing major, but cool enough for me: the four CDs included had embossed silver logos on both front and back covers, instead of the regular printed ones. This differentiated the discs from the versions I could buy separately at retail. Also, Hell Bent for Leather was indeed included under the UK name Killing Machine, something I hadn’t seen on CD before. Finally, once all 12 discs were collected, together the CD spines read JUDAS PRIEST and depicted their “devil’s tuning fork” logo. The spaces for the 8 discs sold separately were taken up by individual foam spacers.
Back covers with silver embossed “tuning fork” logo, and without.
The bonus tracks were a mixed bag of live and demo songs from all over Priest history, but some, such as “Race With the Devil” (The Gun cover) were incredible and classic. One by one, I added to the set. Some discs came in used rather quickly: Point of Entry was one such disc. Others I had to order via Amazon, or buy in-store at Encore, such as Turbo and Painkiller. But I did get them all, and my complete Priest Re-Masters set has served me well for over a decade now. Although I have since bought the newer deluxe editions of Screaming for Vengeance and British Steel (with bonus DVDs) I have felt no need to replace this box set with anything else. Having to buy the discs individually and complete it myself makes it rare to find, not to mention the box was made only in small numbers. Some fans expected more out of the box set, and some were upset that the Gull Records and Ripper Owens years are not represented inside, even though Ripper was still the current singer. My attitude was and is, “Who cares?” It’s a great looking set and it comprises a complete era of Priest. I like it a lot and according to Al King I’m one of two guys in town that own it. Cool.