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“The Complete Albums Collection” by Judas Priest

Artist: Judas Priest
Title: “The Complete Albums Collection”
Label: Columbia/Epic/Legacy Records
Release Date: 1/24/2012
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 4.5/5

If you are truly a card carrying Heavy Metal fan then you most likely not only hold the name of the band Judas Priest in high regard but you also probably have at least four to five of their albums in your collection if not more. On the other hand should you call yourself a Metal fan and you DO NOT own any Judas Priest albums I will need to see your paperwork and am afraid that I will have to prohibit you from citing this genre as being among your interests. The boxed set “Complete Albums Collection” by Judas Priest is one of those items meant for the absolute diehard and features remastered editions of the bands works. Oh wait a second. Technically that is not true as none of the albums featuring Tim “Ripper” Owens are offered up here and instead we get what is called the legendary lineup of Halford, Downing, Tipton and Hill. Over the years the band had a number of drummers before locking the talented Scott Travis into place with 1991’s “Painkiller”. As this release is a massive one and features seventeen of their albums I decided to offer up a quick viewpoint about each CD and say what it meant to me as a fan of the band for the time I had been into them. One of the most immediate exciting points about this release was the inclusion of the group’s first two releases of “Rocka-Rolla” and “Sad Wings Of Destiny” which had never before been available as sanctioned albums by the band and their label of many decades.

Rocka-Rolla (1974): While it’s great to have “Rocka-Rolla” in remastered form at long last, I will admit that if this was my own first go at Priest that I might not have been originally sold on them. Of course it was released in 1974 and has more of a Heavy Rock vibe with some essence of trippy Psychedelics. Yes there were some stand out tunes but the bands best material was ahead of them.

Sad Wings Of Destiny (1976): Now this was more like it and I think was many fans first foray into the bands magnificence. I was still nowhere near my first meeting with the Priest but I would be here soon enough. Classics on this album like “Victim Of Changes”, “Tyrant” and “Genocide” are still very important songs to the bands set list. With “Sad Wings” Judas Priest had arrived.
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“Unleashed In The East” (remaster) by Judas Priest

Artist: Judas Priest
Title: “Unleashed In The East” (remaster)
Label: Sony Music
Release Date: 11/6/2001
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 5/5

“Unleashed In The East” would capture Judas Priest in the element that they seemed to rule over and this would be the concert stage. Recorded during one of the shows supporting the “Hell Bent For Leather” album, this release would feature a strong amount of material from that particular recording as well as earlier staple numbers . Fans of the band who owned this on CD when it originally came out will appreciate the 4 added tracks but should be aware that while from this time period, they do not seem to be from the same performance. Outside of the 5 “HBFL” tracks, the listener is treated to knock down versions of “Exciter” and “Diamonds & Rust”, the blistering lead guitar work and stellar drumming behind Rob’s banshee vocals made them two of the albums best tracks. I remembered being influenced as a young musician by this album’s drumming which made Les Binks one of my favorite Hard Rock players at the time. Sadly this would be the last appearance in the band by Binks who would be replaced on the forthcoming album by Dave Holland. Binks gets a brief drum solo in “Starbreaker” which serves as a fitting closer to the chapter of the book he was a part of. As a whole I loved this album and remember wearing my vinyl release down to almost nothing and recall replacing my original copy at least once from either use or from someone failing to return it after borrowing it. To this day I don’t remember the real reasoning behind it, but it could be the last one as I now seem to have a strict policy on my music loaning. The overall strength of the album make favorites very subjective to the particular listener and of course there are always those that dispute live recordings as to their total “authenticity”, but even with obvious studio cleanups this is one of the best live Metal records to have ever been released.
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