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Amongst the various Greatest Hits compilations out there under the Judas Priest name, the one that truly is worthy of it is the one that just preceded the unfortunate exodus of original singer Rob Halford from the band. “Metal Works 73-93” is more of an anthology than a typical greatest hits release, containing many songs that probably enjoyed less airplay than others did. By the band’s own testimony they compiled these songs more as a collection of what they thought was their best work, not necessarily what the sales indicated, although in most cases the more radio-friendly songs were among what they thought was their personal best.
The order of the songs on here is not chronological, which is a bit unusual for an anthology release, and instead is put together almost like a new studio effort. Both CDs begin with material off of “Screaming for Vengeance” and end with a song off of “Painkiller”, which are my two favorite albums and likely the most widely respected of their massive back catalog. In between there is a lot of back and forth between extremely fast and somewhat slow songs, the most abrupt change is probably the jump from “Turbo Lover” to “Ram it Down”, which underscores the enormous change that occurred between the two albums they were lifted from.
In addition to having a massive selection of classic Priest songs, we also have commentary on the CD sleeve by all of the members of the band on the events surrounding the composition and recording of each song. Among the more elucidating testimonials for the younger fan that wasn’t around during the 80s is the brief explanation by Rob Halford and Ian Hill of the flack that they caught from prude and brainless dumb fucks like Tipper Gore and their armies of quasi-Fascist censors in Washington D.C. over the spoof driven sexual lyrics to “Eat me Alive”.
Although all the material on here can be found on the various studio releases between the dates mentioned on the title, we have some oddities on this CD that might give it some extra value to completists who actually already have all of these songs. Most notable is the missing 3rd verse from “Exciter”, while the missing guitar solo at the beginning of “Metal Meltdown” also is a bit strange. Neither of these songs were really tailored for radio play and I doubt that Exciter really needed any parts cut from it.
To fans of Priest whom don’t have the loot to purchase the entire massive collection of CDs in this band’s past, this is the compilation to have. It has some good perks to it and well as plenty of background information for anyone curious as to how Judas Priest evolved into the Metal Juggernaut that they became in the 80s and still pretty much are today. Even though I have less and less use for it as I begin to complete my own collection of Priest’s discography, I still get a kick out of reading the band’s commentary about the songs found on here.