Judas Priest – Priest…Live! (1987)

Judas Priest – Priest…Live! (1987, Columbia)

  1. Out In The Cold
  2. Heading Out To The Highway
  3. Metal Gods
  4. Breaking The Law
  5. Love Bites
  6. Some Heads Are Gonna Roll
  7. The Sentinel
  8. Private Property
  9. Rock You All Around The World
  10. Electric Eye
  11. Turbo Lover
  12. Freewheel Burning
  13. Parental Guidance
  14. Living After Midnight
  15. You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’

Total Time = 1:14:01

Judas Priest official website

I know that putting PRIEST…LIVE! in the list of some of my favorite albums is going to spark some serious debate. Why? Judas Priest had already put out a classic live album with UNLEASHED IN THE EAST in 1979 and the TURBO (1986) album, and subsequent Fuel For Life Tour, had a more commercialized Pop Metal sound. I put this album in with my top live albums because I was 14 years old in 1987 and Judas Priest was my second favorite band (KISS being #1). The band was everywhere (radio, MTV, print) and I was along for the ride! I had been a Priest fan for a few years but the combination of the TURBO album, Metal hitting the mainstream, and the hype surrounding the band’s concerts June 4th (Providence, RI) & June 5th (Worcester, MA). I didn’t get to go to either of these local shows, my mom thought I was too young, so when the announcement of PRIEST…..LIVE! started to gain momentum in the media I was psyched! Finally I would get to hear what Judas Priest sounded like live in concert!

Taking a look at the tracklisting you’ll see that all of the songs date from 1980 onward including 5 songs from the TURBO record: ‘Out In The Cold’, ‘Private Property’, ‘Rock You All Around The World’, ‘Turbo Lover’ and ‘Parental Guidance’. Obviously, the band was on tour supporting TURBO so it’s obvious that a third of the album promotes it. Also not surprising is that 4 songs come from the album that came before, my personal favorite, DEFENDERS OF THE FAITH (1984). I lived and breathed DEFENDERS for two years as Heavy Metal doctrine so I was glad to see ‘Love Bites’, ‘Some Heads Are Gonna Roll’, ‘The Sentinel’ and ‘Freewheel Burning’ featured prominently. Then you spread out some classics like ‘Metal Gods’ and ‘Electric Eye’ and I knew that this would be a great live record even before I had listened to it.

I had a problem right away with ‘Out In The Cold’ opening the album. I had been to a few concerts (not sure why my mom thought I was too young for a Priest Show!) and all the bands opened with a fast, hard-charging song. For a Metal monster like Judas Priest to open with a guitar-synth ballad was an immeadiate letdown. ‘Out In The Cold’ was a single from TURBO, I heard it played on the local Rock station, but it opened Side 2 on the album! And where was ‘Locked In’? That was the first single/video and it’s surprising that it’s not included. Moving on to ‘Heading Out To The Highway’ (from 1981’s POINT OF ENTRY), I like this live version better than the studio version…..most likely due to the fact that this version gets played more. Even the band and label have decided to include this live version on various greatest hits and box set packages instead of the original, the song is more aggressive live. ‘Metal Gods’ and ‘Breaking The Law’ are staples of the band’s live repertoire to this day but my high point is the DEFENDERS triumvirate of ‘Love Bites’, ‘Some Heads Are Gonna Roll’ and ‘The Sentinel’. Nothing was better than hearing tracks from my favorite album live, especially ‘The Sentinel’…..a song that is a Metal feast.

TURBO tracks ‘Private Property’ and ‘Rock You All Around The World’ were cool back then but seem out of place now. My guess is that they were put in for the audience participation factor because I would have used ‘Locked In’ instead, I think ‘Locked In’ would have come off harder and more Metal. ‘Electric Eye’ is another concert staple for Priest so it’s a welcome intrusion to all the newer tracks but the live version of ‘Turbo Lover’ sounds too close to the studio version. It also sounds too light sandwiched between the driving ‘Electric Eye’ and the Speed Metal of ‘Freewheel Burning’, one of the album’s best tracks! I always liked ‘Parental Guidance’ so it gets a pass even with the audience participation and ‘Living After Midnight’ sounds a little faster and heavier live. Ending the record is the seminal closer ‘You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’ from SCREAMING FOR VENGEANCE (1982) and it’s a solid extended performance that still gives me chills when I hear it.

I really liked this live album back in my early teens but as I got older, and my musical tastes matured, I started to gravitate towards UNLEASHED IN THE EAST. PRIEST…LIVE! today sounds a little too commercial for my ears, it’s not as aggressive compared to the actual Judas Priest shows I’ve attended since. The TURBO songs don’t have that staying power today that they might have had back in the ’86-’88 era. It’s cool to hear them but when you compare them to heavy classics from UNLEASHED IN THE EAST, they fall flat. PRIEST…LIVE! is a nostalgia trip for me now, a way to reconnect with my teen years…..if I want an all out Metal assault, I look for other records.

This album was remastered and reissued in 2002 and it has 3 bonus tracks: ‘Screaming For Vengeance’ (recorded live in 1982), ‘Rock Hard Ride Free’ (recorded live in 1984) and ‘Hell Bent For Leather’ (recorded live in 1986). I wanted to review the original album, and that’s the ones I listened to again, but it is worthy to note that these songs are performed very well. All three were possibly in and out of the actual setlist on the Fuel For Life Tour but two of these tracks were recorded on past tours making their inclusion somewhat odd. I would rather hear these songs live from ’86 like ‘Hell Bent For Leather’, a song I think should have been on the original album maybe replacing a TURBO song.