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Best. Album. Ever. - 100%

UltraBoris, August 3rd, 2002

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!!