Welcome everyone, to the last word in the second chapter of Judas Priest. Alright, let’s get the obligatory overdub joke out of the way first. This album really should have been called Priest… Actually Live This Time, But Maybe Not. But joking aside, this is a blistering live album. Rob ditching the drugs and alcohol has made an almost unquantifiable difference. Comparing this show to one of the Defenders tour really shows just how much better he is here. I truly think this tour was his best vocal performance ever. This show rocks so much. Just like Unleashed in the East, the tracklist is pretty much what I wanted. The two songs representing Screaming For Vengeance were the two I liked. The same goes for Point of Entry (though “Desert Plains” is not on the audio release but definitely benefited from the boost in tempo). There’s a generous four songs (one whole side of this album basically) from Defenders of the Faith, not only my favorite Priest album, but much appreciated given Rob’s dismal Defenders tour performances. You get some of the better songs from Turbo, and “Living After Midnight” too. In fact, the only two songs I could do without are “Breaking the Law” and “Metal Gods” (the latter of which is at least better than the studio version) and the only things missing are “The Green Manalishi” (which is also on the video release) and “Diamonds and Rust”.
The verdict- 4.5/5
But I do have to say that after the pure unfiltered awesome that was the Unleashed in the East cover, the cover art for this one blows. Big time.
Speaking of things that blow big time, there was this girl I knew who got pregnant at 13 when I was a kid*. Moving on, what we have here is a live document of Priest on the Fuel for Life tour. Rob is in some of the best vocal shape of his life here, as my astute kangaroo fondling friend of mine mentioned earlier. While it’s missing the fury of Unleashed in the Atrium, it contains workmanlike professional performances of the group’s ‘80s material with no overlap from the original release. The performances sound big and arena ready, straight of the decade that spawned it. The set was captured entirely on digital tape machines, and sounds cleanly recorded but mixed with some mud. What we have here is two drummers, with Jonathen Valen playing alongside Dave Holland behind a curtain uncredited. The performances have spirit, but lack that certain spark and songwriting complexity that pushed their ‘70s material to its apex. It’s an entirely competent release, and I prefer “Out in the Cold” and “Freewheel Burning” to the studio versions even. More Halford = a better performance. The sing-along during “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” is a chore, but for the most part the CD doesn’t overstay its welcome.
3.5/5 Extra Drummers to Cover for Dave Holland
*Not of Holen’s doing.