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Judas Priest
Live In London (DVD)
September 2002
Released: 2002, SPV/Steamhammer
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: EvilG

This is my second of 2 DVD’s reviewed this month that was filmed at the Brixton Academy in London. With a band as important and as long lasting as Judas Priest, there is always attached baggage that comes with the review. It’s impossible for me to not think of Priest the way they were when viewing what they are today. For the JUGULATOR (1997) album, I was completely satisfied with the direction the band took and with replacement Tim “Ripper” Owens. Then came the dreadful DEMOLITION (2001) album that has none of the spark of the previous albums and did not sound at all like a Judas Priest album to me. With that in mind, I was a bit worried about what the tour for that album would be like.

I find it a bit odd that since getting Ripper in the band they have released 2 studio albums and 2 releases that are live recordings – the LIVE MELTDOWN (1998) and now the live DVD. You could easily argue that it makes sense since DVD’s are really only something that has been catching on in the past 2 years. As far as comparing the 2 live shows, I prefer the ’98 live stuff. Too bad that wasn’t put on DVD…or better yet, too bad there wasn’t some unearthed high quality video recordings from say the PAINKILLER tour released on DVD! So you can see where I headed with this….and that is to the conclusion that this DVD just isn’t what I had hoped it would be. Another factor that perhaps jaded my view of the DVD is that the very night before this DVD arrived I had watched a live pro-shot bootleg from Dortmund Germany on in 1983. Why couldn’t the original tapes of this be dug out and released on DVD? Halford’s voice on this 1983 recording is so powerful and intense that it’s scary! Hearing and seeing how seemingly effortlessly he belts out the high screams in “Victim of Changes” or “The Ripper” blew me away. So now we jump to the DVD in 2002 and it just does not hold a candle to the mighty Priest as they once were. One frustrating thing about this is that I do believe that they still have it in them to be as great as they once were. Glenn, K.K. and Ian Hill are every bit as good, if not better, players today and Scott Travis is clearly a superior drummer. That leaves us with Ripper. Sure he is not Rob Halford, but he’s a bloody awesome vocalist and serves as a decent replacement.

So what is the problem then? Why are tings coming out sounding like this? Well, one big problem I have with this is the fact that all the songs are down-tuned at least a step, perhaps more. That of course means lower vocals as well. Some songs just don’t sound right to me at this lower tuning. It’s very noticeable on all songs such as “The Sentinel” or on “United.” Another problem is the direction shift Priest has went with in the past few years. They have been originators and a band that leads. Now they seem more like a band who are following what others are doing. They are trying to sound modern. They shouldn’t be caught up in this at all. They are the innovators, yet you hear them toying with non-melodic, down-tuned, and un-Priest sounding material. WHY?

Enough of my ranting….let me touch on a few things on the DVD besides the live performance. There is a 20+ minute soundcheck where they play "Desert Plains", "Running Wild", "Turbo Lover", "The Sentinel", "Machine Man", and "Lost and Found." “Desert Plains” for some reason sounds much better on the sound check. Unfortunately, the sound check footage is all in black and white. Some people like this and find it artistic. I find it ugly and boring. There are some backstage and interview segments that are way too short lived and not done very well at all. If the interview segments were a bit longer with some serious questions and Priest history being discussed you could understand having the typical “fooling around” crap. For example, seeing Ripper’s buttcrack on the tour bus, or seeing what he packs away in road box is not good use of quality time when it’s so short.

From the lackluster bonus footage, to the simple and boring DVD cover, this package is just not up to the standards of what I expect from Priest. Drop the modern “act”, write some PRIEST material and not semi-Pantera styled metal, bring back the REAL Priest logo, disown DEMOLITION, etc. If not, is it perhaps time to either look at bringing back Halford or calling it a day? This is just how I feel about the whole situation. Perhaps you’ll love it and the direction Priest has taken things too. I’ve been a fan of Priest for as long as I’ve been into heavy metal and a Priest album was the very first metal album I’ve ever owned…so I do care about what the band does and how they sound today.

Next review: » Judas Priest - Live In London (DVD)
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Judas Priest
Live In London (DVD)
April 2003
Released: 2002, Sanctuary
Rating: 3.0/5
Reviewer: Rick

After the LIVE IN LONDON DVD it didn’t take long for the concert to be released as a double CD. I was kind of surprised because Priest has only released 1 album since their last double live CD. ’98 LIVE MELTDOWN. The response to their next album, DEMOLITION, was luke warm so it seems to be a strange move on the part of Priest to release yet another live disc instead of heading back into the studio to record some new and more Priestly material. As for the CD itself, taken on its own its not a bad release at all. Recorded at the Brixton Academy on the 19th of December 2001 the release contains 25 songs and a video clip from the DVD to hopefully entice the listener to purchase that version.

Disc One opens with one of the seminal tracks of the Priest catalogue, “Metal Gods”. For all the Ripper haters out there, you won’t find much on this disc to complain about. Having been a fan of Priest since the early 80s I can see why everyone wants Halford back in the band but his comments as of late suggest that a reunion won’t happen for quite some time. Till then we will have to be content with Owens who does a good job of filling Halford’s shoes. Up next is “Heading Out To The Highway” which didn’t appear on the last live disc which is followed by a Priest live staple “Grinder”. A highlight of disc one for me was “The Ripper”. One of my favourite Priest songs and a song which Ripper does a great job on. His take is slightly different than Halford which is what I think makes it go over so well on this CD. It is disc two that holds the greatest surprise and also the biggest let down of the release, “Turbo Lover”. Not the greatest song of the Priest catalogue but the original has a quirky atmosphere that is not translated well to this release. It Priest were looking for something obscure to play they should have dusted something off something like “Rock a Rolla” or “ “Ram It Down”. One song that did make it on the disc was “Desert Plains” from the much-maligned POINT OF ENTRY album. This is a great addition to the release cause if I hear “Living After Midnight” one more time I will need a lobotomy.

The question I am still asking myself is why? With only 1 studio CD in the can since their last live release why would the band feel the need to release another one? Money grab? Creative juices dried up? Whatever the case I think we could have done without another live Judas Priest release. The DVD was interesting because it was a chance to see Priest in a live setting. The advent of live DVDs has pretty much made the concept live CD passé. Why buy just the CD when you can get the music and the picture? If you are a hardcore, dyed in the wool Priest fan then this disc belongs in your collection but if you want bang for the buck get the DVD.

Next review: » Judas Priest - Nostradamus
Previous review: » Judas Priest - Live In Concert

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