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Admittedly, I'm not a huge live album guy, but this is a very good album by my standard. There are some things here that are greatly improved from the studio. The guitars are much more potent than they were on any of the previous album and so is the bass. On the other hand, I'm not sure I like how Halford sings these songs or how the drumming sounds. I also have a few qualms with the tracks.
I'll start with the songs from Hell Bent. These songs are better on here than on studio, and it's noticeable. The production on this album is punchier than they had had on the studio albums, so the stringed instruments came out awesome. There is not a song on here that has less energy than it's studio version and the most recent tracks benefit most. Running Wild isn't a particularly good song on Killing Machine, but here it becomes a nice speedster that best encapsulates what this album does best. It takes the songs from the last four albums and beefs them up to speed metal territory. This is also great on a song like Diamonds and Rust from Sin After Sin, where a mid-paced number is made pretty fast.
This approach doesn't work as well on Exciter, where certain other elements start to come into play. For one, Halford's vocals are in his Hell Bent-era mold, so the airy highs that the song requires aren't as easy for him to pull off. He does get high, but the sound is very different, much rougher. The extra punch on the guitars is also offset by the loss of Binks' audibility. On Stained Class, he was a major part of the sound, and his lower mixing does actual harm as opposed to the tracks off Hell Bent where he wasn't as big a factor. It's also a factor on Sinner, where he can't seem to hit it hard enough during the chorus to imitate it's studio sound.
Lastly, we have the songs from Sad Wings, which take up almost half the original album. Sad Wings functions differently than most albums. It's several great songs with some others that are more mood-continuing than anything else, much akin to an early Queen album. By removing them from their continuity, you take away that atmospheric strength, and you force them to function on their own. Most of these tracks are still roughly equal to their studio counterpart, except Genocide. As many who have reviewed that album mention, it's not a particularly strong song individually. On here, they beef it up, but that's not enough to offset the padding they put on it as well. Personally, I would have rather another track from Stained Class, probably Savage which would have made for a great speedster a la Running WIld.
In an odd twist, it's the stronger albums that aren't really helped by all of this. I suppose that this is a function of the feeling and atmosphere that those two have in comparison to Hell Bent. That's a good collection of songs, but Sad Wings and Stained Class are artistic statements in every sense of the word. I can easily see why some would prefer this, and it sounds great on paper, but something is lost in translation. The winding, lurching turns of Sad Wings can't be duplicated on here, nor is this as heavy as any of the "S" trilogy.
I still enjoy this album. As they say, it's nice to hear different versions of classics, and this is the metal live album for changing things up. As a sort of alternate versions collection, I think some of these are better, but most are essentially equal, and the live atmosphere just doesn't do as much for me as the ones found on the studio versions. I don't find this as essential as their "S" trilogy, but it still should be had. It has its own charm and it is possibly the best live album I've ever heard. If you were going to buy a few live metal albums, this needs to be one of them, and I'd say anyone into metal at all should at least give this a shot.
It's difficult not to be sentimental over Unleashed in the East, since it was one of my first metal records, and certainly the first live album I ever owned, gifted to me at an age so ripe and impressionable that it helped plant the seeds of rebellion forevermore into my skull. That I hadn't the slightest clue back then what sort of music I was listening to goes without saying, I was just barely old enough to start kicking my training wheels. I had no inkling of where Japan was on a map, or that I'd ever become a culture-o-phile for that country. I had no idea what leather pants were, or that the man so stalwartly thrusting his microphone into the air above him had little interest in the googly eyes of the female audience members no doubt staring down his lightly haired chest and inviting handcuffs. Or that the person on the left of the cover wasn't a woman. Or that this record was stylistically distanced from the others I owned by KISS, Van Halen or the J. Geils Band. All I could understand was that it was exciting. Fresh. That it rocked. That I wanted MORE.
I could do my best to beat back the tears and memories, to take a more objective view of this first Judas Priest live album, but any way I try to slice it, any aural lens through which I glean it, any meat grinder I attempt to render its fats and proteins through, it's still a fucking kickass experience for the young and old, man and woman, square or hesher. Captured at a pair of Tokyo locations on their February, 1979 tour (their second in Japan), and produced by long term collaborator Tom Allom, it translated the sheer intensity and promise of the band's studio backlog straight to the stage, and helped to promote the worldwide domination of the heavy metal medium in the years (and decades) to come. Wisely avoiding the debut Rocka Rolla in terms of its set list, Unleashed in the East instead concentrates on the blazing aggression that would inspire a thousand neck strained followers to form their own musical endeavors in its wake. I've got the nine-track, US issue of the album, so it's lacking some of the content that the Japanese version has, but even considering those omissions it's easily one of the best lives in my collection, standing alongside Maiden's Live After Death and Destruction's Live Without Sense as a mandatory purchase in its medium.
Nothing too complicated, just 45 minutes of excellence spanning some of the best heavy/power metal of the 70s. Cuts like "Exciter" and "The Ripper" are a given, pumping the crowd into a polite frenzy as they witness the future unfold before them. However, the moodier and more extensive "Victim of Changes" feels superior even to its studio version on Sad Wings of Destiny. The guitars are meatier, the psychedelic breakdown feels more vibrant and the tiny spikes of the lead guitar gleam like they were just affixed to the shoulders of some new leather jacket. The cover of Joan Baez' "Diamonds and Rust" is present, not to mention that of Fleetwood Mac's "Green Manalishi (with the Two-Pronged Crown)" which completely rules to the point that I couldn't believe it wasn't their tune to begin with. Rounding out the track list you get a pair of additional greats from Sad Wings of Destiny: "Genocide" and "Tyrant"; "Sinner" from Sin After Sin, and "Running Wild" from their latest studio album at the time, Hell Bent for Leather (US title). A formidable selection, even for so early in their career.
The sound is still as rich and bright to me as it was when I first listened through it, the crowd's response ebbing and flowing gracefully into the mix at appropriate times. Obviously a little studio wizardry went into the recording to prep it for market, but Unleashed in the East seems so authentic that it would be hard to imagine they tweaked with much outside of the vocal overdubs (which Rob admits to) and maybe a solo or two. Some also say the audience is part faked, not beyond the realm of possibility. We might never know. The vocals are grafted with a good amount of echo, and even where he can't quite emulate the multi tracking of his studio performance (like the important scream in the first few lines of "The Ripper"), he still exhibits that he was quite possibly the best in the entire business at this time. Ian Hill's bass lines feel fluid and corporeal, while the two guitars are slicing, crisp and panned out into their respective tracks that converge on the listener like a pair of horseshoes being simultaneously tossed onto the same spike. Les Binks, who had gelled with the band after two studio outings, sounds like a beast here, taut and peppy but capable of lots of rumbling fills that dress up the riffs in a skirt of natural savagery.
The pacing is great for the order of the set here, the mix sincere and potent, the riffs melt your face, and even the cover image to this thing seems iconic, one of the best pure shots of a metal band in action that you'll ever witness. So wonderfully does it capture the time and place of this recording, with the smoke and lights that once served as crucial components in the stage show (and still do). The Anglicized 'kana figures seem a bit cheesy, but they fit the modus operandi and create just the right level of ignorant Western exoticism. Okay, so there's no motorcycle on the front cover. We can't win them all, but just about everything else on the album demands your immediate attention. One of the live essentials of British hardness. I've heard others that I prefer to this, and I wouldn't call it flawless, since I feel it could certainly have come across as more 'live' than this, but it's still up there. If you don't own this album by now, then clearly we old school nutters have failed at our duties, so while we address this oversight by flogging ourselves the full 40 lashes in the corner, go swipe your credit cards and make yourselves one album poorer (or more importantly, richer). Now, I wonder if my ass is too fat to fit on that old Huffy in the garage.
You can keep telling me something is black when it's really white until you're blue in the face; Unleashed in the East is nothing great. The performance on this album is pure vanilla though it does have some good spots in it. But I wanted a great live experience on the record and henceforth, I will be highly critical of it as just that or not that as it's supposed to be: a live recording. Rumor has it Unleashed in the East is a victim of studio changes i.e. overdubs outside the venue. Rumor? Ha. Yeah and rumor has it that Rob Halford would have a room for Doro before Joey DiMaio. Oh yeah and rumor also has it Tim Owens will forgo a vocal slot in another power metal band so he can work on getting his PGA tour card. No, that this album has been worked over in a studio after the fact is no rumor. It is so. Anybody who doesn't doubt the veracity of the fact has to do me a solid and rest their ear from track 3 on album 4 for a bit and step back for the truth. Do it! And do it now! And while the performance on this live album is better by most than better by me, I need nothing subliminal to convince me of the fact that Priest is sublimely awesome! I wish this really was as good as it's cover art.
Note: This is the band's best album cover! When I think of Judas Priest, the front and back photos always pop delightfully to my mind. Back in the late 70's, Judas Priest was heavy metal back when heavy metal wasn't "cool" and the cover is still today just too damn awesome for those disco duck mainstream motherfuckers anyway. Rob Halford sporting that leather and police paraphernalia was my adolescent dream. Only he could make the glisten of his handcuffs outshine the Village People's Glenn Hughes' pair so that we would only notice that merkin on his face and Rob's crotch would get the deserving attention instead AND Rob was such a badass with singing ability that he could kick the Deep Purple singer Glenn Hughes' ass at the same time!
Now that I showered rightful praise on the beautifully typical heavy metal-ness of Unleashed in the East, I must get back to being skeptical about the sound on here before I break into song and just say "fuck it, this album rocks" like so many others have when it just isn't the case all around. I will start by dropping these titles on you: Live After Death. Alive!. Made in Japan. On Stage. Live Evil. Live Undead. Those are a sampling of great live albums. Albums recorded live and more importantly, feel live. Unleashed in the East doesn't do that live part well as those titles did. That this album is not authentically live is not my complaint one bit. As a matter of fact, one of those examples I gave was recorded completely in a studio setting and passed off as live. Another was studio dubbed as this album was. But at least they sounded live. This record doesn't sound it. It sounds unconvincing. I want it to sell me that it's in concert even if it's knowingly otherwise. Ever heard Rob's 2001 solo release Live Insurrection? That, my friends, was a live album! Intense, dynamic with the crowd sounds in full force and in your face responding to the performance. When I hear a concert album, I want concert atmosphere! I don't care how small or how big the audience, it's got to feel in the flesh.
Exciter is one of the greatest songs to ever open a heavy metal album and being as awesome as it was on Stained Class, I expected it to do the same when kicking off this record but it went limp on the live front at 3:38 with that crowd rave. PUH-LEASE! Where did the engineer swipe that byte from? Cheap Trick? Those cheers were about as convincing as the crowd cheers on Tecmo Bowl for the Atari 7800 after Detroit scores on Dallas on the road. What is really confounding is that Priest was the sexiest sounding metal band of their day and that such audial duplicity was needed in the first place. When the band belts these songs out it should have every bit the authenticity of excitement as Madonna would get strutting down rapist row. Were Japanese metal audiences really that flaccid and nonchalant? No. There's no reason to turn down reception noise. Take some time and work it in properly into the optimal channels. Even if it was going to be manufactured crowd sounds, they could at least do it correctly. I wanted a true depiction of everything there. Stand by for disappointment is more like it.
I wasn't too pleased with the soloing on Exciter either at least in comparison to the studio track. K.K's riffing is great but Tipton's soloing sounds synthetic (more blatantly obvious studio tinkering) and a pull off is missed. Running Wild then breaks on way too suddenly than I thought was needed. Tipton and Downing's chaotic twin attack solo on this song was pry the best emulation of a live arena setting. The song that has the most awkward mix and dub is with The Ripper. Rob's vocals sound lively but the echoing effect is overdone. Throughout the whole album, Ian Hill's bass tracks seemed unaltered as I noticed the output drifted quietly about the same channels the guitars were placed through. Victim of Changes is a song from Sad Wings of Destiny and it's a track played on this live recording which is a natural because that song even in its studio incarnation always sounded lively. Rob's ending wail at the tail end is of course screamed right as always but not as long as I've heard it on other concert performances.
Unleashed in the East has gotten much praise. I like the actual performance by the band on it whether it is live or doctored to be live. I know many admire it just for the playing alone. But I don't think the band played uniquely enough on it to give it a pass as a live recording. I wish I could raise this album up to a higher score for it's cover but the musical content is what matters. 70's Priest is my favorite era of the band so it's disappointing that the live treatment heard on here is not a heavy metal great among the classics. We get the Green Manalishi with the Two Prong Crown, sure. But if you're looking for what I was looking for, you get the big green weenie. What a shame.
...but when I say "everyone" I mean EVERYONE.
JUDAS PRIEST – UNLEASHED IN THE EAST - 1979
First off, I'm not the world's biggest Priest fan. Okay, honestly, I don't even understand how they have so many fanboys. Sure, the 70's material is largely classic and they are one of the progenitors of the classic metal sound, but they are really fucking hit or miss otherwise in my book.
But anyway, there's three main reasons why this album owns so hard.
1) Other Judas Priest offerings pale in comparison consistency-wise. Judas Priest, more than any other band, do not really have a signature sound. Sure, there's Halford's vox, and you could argue that you could listen to a song and know it's Priest. But if I just said to you "Hey want to listen to some Priest?" would you know what to expect? There's 70's hard rock, 70's/80's proto-thrash, slow piano/power ballads, cliché 80's happy/party "metal", the whole 80's Turbo sound, the whole (different) 80's Painkiller sound, the whole 90's Ripper-era sound, etc. It's all over the place. You can't honestly expect someone to enjoy every Priest song. But this album has a distinct consistent sound from track one to track thirteen (get the remaster!).
2) The production annihilates, especially for 1979. This is sort of related to point one because the classic 70's trilogy of Sad Wings, Sin After Sin, and Stained Class suffer from a somewhat bland production. The guitars here are fucking present and accounted for and delivering a fucking metal assault. The bass is audible, something that is unfortunately quite rare in the metal world. The drums maybe have room for improvement by today's standards (you won’t hear any crisp ear-annihilating double bass fills like the intro to Painkiller) but when you remember both the year (1979) and the original studio albums, you'll be fucking satisfied. Finally, Halford is Halford, love it or hate it. He has a great performance, no issues with him. Production is usually why live albums suck, but in this case, it is perhaps the greatest reason to purchase
3) The setlist (given the available catalog) owns.
Sad Wings – The Ripper, Tyrant, Genocide, Victim of Changes
Sin After Sin – Sinner, Diamonds and Rust, Starbreaker
Stained Class – Exciter
Killing Machine – Delivering the Goods, Rock Forever, Hell Bent for Leather, The Green Manalishi, Running Wild
Perhaps too much Killing Machine, but it was the album they were supporting at the time. My only gripes are the lack of Dissident Aggressor, Call for the Priest, or Stained Class. And maybe Rock Forever isn't the greatest track in the world. But they are minor gripes really. This set owns. It's an hour long already.
All three of these factors come together, and you just have to realize why this is essential. Every song is just so much better here than on the studio version. Diamonds and Rust, a song I otherwise either borderline despise, is amazing here as it becomes another typical 70's Priest proto-thrash tune. Really, the whole proto-thrash feel is prevalent here and perhaps that's why I love this record so much.
But really, why are you reading these reviews. This is a record EVERYONE should own. I don't care what kind of music you like. EVERYONE needs to listen to this at least once.
Unleashed In The East is an album that should be owned by not only Priest fans or metal heads but anyone who has the slightest understanding of real talented music, it is simply out of this world. One can always judge a bands true skill by how good they are in a live setting, when they summon their talent at will and are shown in raw form. Judas Priest does that here and give what is arguably the greatest heavy metal live album of all time, but perhaps the greatest live album period.
Rather it is Exciter, Running Wild, Sinner, The Ripper, The Green Manalishi, Diamonds And Rust, Victim of Changes, Genocide, Tyrant, Rock Forever, Delivering the Goods, Hell Bent for Leather, and Starbreaker, every song is performed so powerful it will reach in and pull out every desire you have and give further proof why Judas Priest is the greatest live heavy metal band ever.
Doing a song by song review here is pointless so let's stick to the best tracks, which is Genocide here, if that extended opening or closing sections don't pick you up and kick your ass all over the place then nothing ever will. The music is so vibrant and clear, yet never loses it's aggression. The rapping on the end and the haunting screams send the song and whoever is listening out of this world, climaxing and leaving you breathless.
The other highlight here is by far the finale(on the original US version) Tyrant. While totally awesome on Sad Wings Of Destiny this version here just blows away anything released before it. The first ever true thrash song was given a whole new life on this heart-stopping version which shows the band take all the originals potential and give a performance that is for the ages. This one song alone makes this album worthy of every penny you may spend for it, single-handedly the greatest live song ever recorded. Need any more proof of how great this version is? Then listen closely after that incredible third guitar solo and you will hear something you cannot hear at any other part of the album, during a song that is, the crowd goes absolutely crazy. Screaming in pleasure after the full minute of absolute greatness K.K. and Glenn rewards.
But every song is great and better than the studio version, especially Running Wild, the screams at the end is shocking and breath-taking. The "Sinner, Sinner, Sinner, Sinner, Sinner" part at the end is also that songs highlight.
Simply put nothing about this record is bad and as said before it should be owned by anyone who has any sense of real talented music, this will take your breath away and leave you floored no matter how many times you hear it. The greatest release by Judas Priest in the 1970's. Get It NOW.
OK... Despite the bonus track ‘Hell Bent for Leather’ and possibly the opener ‘Exciter’ and ‘Diamonds and Rust’, there aren't that many all time classics on this live album, however when you listen to it you simply cannot deny that you are listening to the greatest live album ever recorded, and possibly one of the greatest albums in general.
I highly advise you pick up a copy of this album, however I STRONGLY suggest the remastered edition for it contains 4 bonus tracks, one being the evergreen ‘Hell Bent for Leather’.
We kick things off with the only Stained Class track to make the cut, the thrash gem ‘Exciter’ which wipes the floor with the studio version, as do all the songs on this album. From then on in you are treated to pure heavy fucking metal until the very end. This album (not counting the remastered version) also features 4 tracks from Sad Wings of Destiny, 2 Sin After Sin, 2 from Killing Machine and with none from Rocka Rolla and this makes for a VERY solid tracklist.
Notable tracks include: An extended version of ‘Sinner’, the vocally complex ‘The Ripper’ (which Halford performs brilliantly), a great version of the Fleetwood Mac song ‘The Green Manalishi (with the Two-Pronged Crown)’, the classic ‘Diamonds and Rust’ which is sped up a decent amount and the epic ‘Victom of Changes’. To be honest every song on here is amazing which is why this stands as one of the greatest albums of all time.
When it’s all said and done, odds are you’ll be flicking all the way back to ‘Exciter’ to be taken on the ride of your life once again.
As for the actual quality of the album, well what can I say? It’s perfect, nothing is drowned out by the singing or the other instruments and unless they add a whole new part to the song (which happens quite a bit) the songs are performed note for note perfectly. The only real production complaint I have here is you can’t hear the crowd much at all (similar problem with Motorhead’s legendary live album No Sleep ‘til Hammersmith), but at least that means the actual music doesn’t get drowned out.
Really the whole album is virtually perfect, and even after almost 30 years it still stands up as one of the greatest albums ever... the only complaint is Beyond the Realms of Death was performed at the show, but not used on this album(even in the remaster).
When you think about it, Kiss choosing their last ditch effort as a audio document of a live show without a video to go with it was really fucking stupid. I mean how the hell were the exactly going to capture Ace’s smoking guitar, Peter’s drum riser, Paul’s smashing of his guitar, and Gene’s fire breathing and blood spitting on vinyl? You what I think the real reason they made a live album was? Because they realized how dull, plodding and ultimately incomplete a good 75% of their shit was in the studio. So it wasn’t an attempt to capture a “live show” it was a sneaky smoke and mirrors excuse to re-record their songs and make them suck less. Sure enough, the plan worked, and let me tell you, that thing didn’t go double platinum because people were trying to figure out where exactly Gene spits fire on Firehouse, it’s because that version of Firehouse kicked major ass.
Now this is of course not to say that all of Judas Priest’s studio songs up to this point were weak sauce, just Starbreaker, and most of Sad Wings of Destiny. Seriously, if someone unironically tries to credibly claim that the studio version of Victim of Changes is superior to the live version (with a reason other than “Don’t you know you’re driving me insane” was omitted), what they’re really trying to say is they've gone full retard and they ain't coming back. Kind of like the character of Pink at the conclusion of The Wall.
So while this is still a 100% live album (in spite of what a few snarky mouth breathers may think. Look, just because a few assholes came out of the closet saying their live album is fake doesn’t means the ones who don’t aren’t telling the truth), it’s not so much a concert as much as it is a diplomatic statement: “We’ve grown and gelled as a band considerably since four years ago, and the way we performed has changed without becoming trendy. We think the way we play most of these songs now is superior to the way we played them on the album.” And God dammit, they were right. One last Ultraboris reference, his favorite album? This one. Although I call still shenanigans, because he has some mutated version with Beyond The Realms of Death and Evil Fantasies. Goddammit I wish this was a double live album. CBS couldn’t take a chance with that while Casablanca put out Alive! Knowing they were gonna either succeed or go bankrupt?
If nothing else, this album should be owned to hear the Sad Wings of Destiny songs come to life; and eradicate all other life in its path. The closing punch of Genocide and Tyrant. My God, after hearing that closing devastating riff set and Halford’s tortured dying screams, the whole thing is just a divine Shakespearean Tragedy told with screaming guitars instead of actors onstage. And Tyrant, Jesus. If Exciter wasn’t Ace of Spades before Ace of Spades in that it was the embryo of thrash, this certainly was. With that killer breakdown and that excellent harmonic shredding near the end. Did that part even need to be there? Does it have anything to do with the song? Who the fuck cares?
Someone at the record company seriously needs to do an excavation into the vaults and give this album the full treatment that Live & Dangerous, Live At Leeds and so many other classics have gotten. Because the fact that the greatest live musical document ever conceived isn’t even a complete account is an outrage.
I can't give it an 100 for being an ultimately incomplete and out of order document, but it's a better product than 99% of the complete live albums every other band releases.
Victim of Changes
Well, I just got this a few weeks ago and I have probably listened to it 3 billion times by now. This, obviously, comes with good reason. "Unleashed In the East" is easily one of the best live albums ever recorded and also the best album Priest ever released, alongside with "Painkiller". Each of the songs burns with an energy that is unseen, or at least cramped in the original studio recordings. There are certain points of magic that make the live versions of these Priest classics better than their studio versions, my favourite being a bit into "Exciter" when the music stops and the crowd screams the "repent if you please" part along with Halford. Speaking of Halford, he sounds perfect, with his only audible vocal fuckup being at the beginning of "The Ripper".
"Victim of Changes" is another great song, with some great riffs and a long, melodic midsection that eventually kicks back into the song in a great way. "The Green Manashlini" (or however you spell it) needs no introduction and remains, in my mind, the most typical heavy metal song ever, this is exemplified by the AC/DC styled riff in the verse. "Diamonds and Rust" was the song that originally turned me on to this album, the song is excellent but really hits it's climax at the end with Halford singing "Diamonds...Diamonds and Rust!!!". And of course, who can forget the classic "Hell Bent for Leather", which is done exceptionally well live and will be stuck in anybodys (and I mean ANYBODYS) head. Halford doesn't exactly do much in the way of talking to the crowd with the exception of the usual "Thank you!".
No, Thank YOU, Rob and the rest of the band for giving us one of the best heavy metal albums to grace the planet.
"Get down on your knees and repent if you please!"
A true classic, own this or die knowing that you are missing a landmark piece of metal history.
How does one review a live album? No use explaining the music since the songs (in most cases anyhow) are available on other albums. So I'm gonna do a little personal history instead, whether you like it or not.
(I will get back on the album after this, don't worry)
The thing is, Judas Priest is one of my absolute favorite metal bands, even if I don't mention it much I keep them very close to my heart. Just the other day I figured out why this particular band has that place, it's simply because they were one of the first metal acts I encountered. The reason I began to listen to them is a combination of a class mate of mine in seventh grade (we're still good friends) and my sister. I knew the guy listened to alot of metal and I guess I wanted to know what it was like. Anyway I saw the name Judas Priest among many others on one of his notebooks and I knew my oldest sis had some vinyls with them (she still has actually) so I thought I'd check em out.
And I'm glad I did cause otherwise I wouldn't listen to this album today. It's kinda funny though (or just weird) how time can affect your taste. I started out with 'Killing machine' and 'British steel' (and I still like those of course). I never really gave 'Sin after sin' or even 'Sad wings of destiny' their fair chance at first, but since I liked 'Killing machine' I eventually tried this live album and thought it was ok but nothing more. Maybe it was because it mainly contains songs off those albums I didn't listen to much or at all back in those days (this was approximately 8 years ago), I dunno.
However the fact is that today I totally worship this album as being the best live album ever, all categories. Not even Sabbath's "Live evil" is this perfect. The production is really fine for being 70's, you can even hear Ian Hill's bass tones.
I think the main reasons you can listen to this album longer than a month before you get tired of it (yeah good luck with that one.. I'm not, even after 6 years or something) is:
1. Even though it has brilliant tracklisting - none of the tracks are real "metal classics".. you know, songs that are constantly played in every metal fan's stereo until pure sickness, i.e. Iron Maiden - "Number of the beast" or "Run to the hills".. get the idea? Of course there are songs that can be considered classics here, but not as much as mentioned metal-hits anyway.
2. It's not just a cheap trick by the record label to get the band out of their contract and milk the fans on their hard-earned money, lots of feeling is put in here (production by Tom Allom, their main producer during the 80's - just a thing like that) and the band has never been better - Halford is in absolute top-shape, this is a great opportunity to hear why I hold this man as my favorite singer of all time.
Make sure you get the remaster-version though, cause it has 4 bonus tracks (10-13), the best you can get - they're the bonuses from the japanese version of the album and recorded at the same tour, I bought it recently and actually I've been waiting to get my hands on a version with those extra tracks.. ever since I bought the original version many years ago! So this remaster really was a blessing..
Fair warning, the official version product actually being reviewed has only 13 songs, as opposed to all 15. There are ways of acquiring the 15 song version, - I leave this as an exercise to the reader, and will march forth and review the whole bloody thing.
Plain and simple, Priest in the East is the best album ever recorded. It's live, of course, so there is no room for overproduction or studio trickery or addition of silly electronic noises or whatever it is people do in their spare time nowadays to make up for a lack of songwriting skills. (Overdubbing of vox be damned, more on that later!) This album is 100 per cent raw Judas Priest, from the time when men were real men, small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri, and everyone, men and small furry creatures alike, played on 11. It's been 23 years, and this album still has not been topped.
Four of Priest's first five albums are represented here... everything except Rocka Rolla, which is really no big loss. All the songs are better than their studio versions, especially the ones on Sin After Sin. Here is the definitive version of "Diamonds and Rust" with its intro THRASH riff (I shit you not), and also "Starbreaker" and "Sinner".
The Sad Wings songs also definitely get a bit of a punch, especially "Victim of Changes" and "The Ripper". Also, "Genocide" comes off as fucking vicious, just as it should have been in 1976, and finally technology caught up and the raw strength of 16000 fans has provided the necessary power to turn everything into a monster. "Tyrant", too - for similar reasons - this very well may be THE first thrash metal recording. Check out that monster riff-set in the middle... and how about Halford fucking nailing "The Ripper".
One of the definite highlights is "Beyond the Realms of Death", which is not actually included on the official version. The other Stained Class track is "Exciter" ("White Heat, Red Hot" was inexplicably not recorded, though it was played on 2/15/79) which already sounded great in 1978, and now just turns fucking lethal. There is nothin heavier for 1979. Not even Into the Fucking Void was this raw and brutal and slicing one down with monstrous speed metal rifs, especially that distorted intro that tears out of the Burning Up machine noises, replacing the original drum pattern. Man, that just sums up the album right there - guitars shrieking from beginning to end.
Otherwise, the album is faithful to the studio versions... "Genocide" obviously doesn't fade out so there's actually an extra slow section with a few more riffs added to the end (I heard Priest in the East before Sad Wings, and was left wondering where last bit of the song was on the studio album!) - in fact, they did an even longer version of the song with an extra Tipton solo on that tour and on the 1980 tour (also, an extra long Sinner with a K.K. solo on the '77-79 tours) but didn't put those on the album... oh yes, "Starbreaker" has the extra drum solo.
Most importantly, the guitar solos and duels that were part of the original songs are nailed note for note - no biffing a string here and there - the performances are all dead on, especially the aforementioned "Beyond the Realms of Death". That's a fucking complex solo, and Tipton nails it.
Then there's the cuts from their latest album at the time, Killing Machine - they fortunately don't concentrate on the commercial dribble - only one song, "Evil Fantasies", from that realm, and this one comes off powerful and menacing, as opposed to the goofy studio version. Then throw in "Delivering the Goods", an anthem if there ever was one, the lethal speed metal fury riffage of "Running Wild", and the singalong of "The Green Manalishi" ... and last but certainly not least, the raw blazing fury of "Hell Bent for Leather" - the best two minutes and forty seconds in heavy metal.
And for those who were wondering - the album was not all faked in a studio. There are a few vocal overdubs here and there, but it is 99% authentic - I should know, I have a bootleg recording of 2/15/79, and it sounds the same! In fact, Halford's vox are nowhere near as bad on the original as the rumours say - in fact I'd say they just weren't miked properly, since the vocals' volume is the only problem with that recording... though when all is said and done, Halford's vox are better on Ringo Starr's front porch, I'll grant that!
I do sincerely hope that everyone was just reading this review for amusement purposes, not because they didn't have the album. If you don't have it - your life has been devoid of meaning up to this point, and will continue to be devoid of meaning until you get this album! So get your act together!!