“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.

Sin After Sin (1977): The band’s winning streak continues with “SAS” as tunes like “Sinner” showed us just how amazing Halford’s register was and “Diamonds And Rust” proved that even a Folk tune could be reworked into a massive Metal tune. The heaviness and sorrow of “Last Rose Of Summer” offered some interesting ballad styling from the guys and while never a favorite it is still an impacting tune.

Stained Class (1978): Many friends got their Priest fix with “Stained Class” and the “Exciter” was the reason why. So many awesome tunes on this one with the “Saints In Hell” and the epic classic “Beyond The Realms Of Death” that still gives fans a chill over thirty years later. Even the controversial cover of Spooky Tooth’s “Better By You Better Than Me” kicks some ass. If you’ve not heard that one yet then by all means “do it, do it, do it”.

Killing Machine (1978): The US fans know this as “Hell Bent For Leather” and this was my own first real go at Judas Priest. Yes, “Stained Class” was out in the same year so truthfully I owed my own interest in the group to both of these albums. I have constantly played and enjoyed this release. One of my very favorite albums of all time. Can you blame me.

Unleashed In The East (1979): The world’s best Metal live album is right here. If you wanted to experience the thunder and excitement that was a live Judas Priest show this was your album. Resounding in power and Metal precision along with soaring vocals. You played this one from beginning to end each and every time. There was no choose this track, skip this one going on with “Unleashed”. This album also made quite a few fans look into drums thanks to Les Binks.

British Steel (1980):
As much as I loved the last three releases this is the one that really put the band on the larger world map. “Living After Midnight” and the title tune became radio mainstays. You would hear them everywhere and almost on an hourly basis. Life was different then. While I was “into” Priest for a few albums now, this was the first one that I purchased with my own money. So held in some higher regard.

Point Of Entry (1981): I came to this one late and only liked half of it but “Solar Angels” and “Heading Out To The Highway” were great along with “Hot Rockin’”. To me the band was slowing down their delivery just a little and this might have been resultant of the previous radio friendly blockbuster.

Screaming For Vengeance (1982): Priest was back to the business of delivering the goods (if you will pardon the obvious pun) and I was not complaining. Nice and heavy and a recording that smoked with uhm vengeance. I loved so much about this album from the intro of “Hellion” to the “Devil’s Child” and the title track that was a monster. Oddly enough the radio hit of “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’” grew tiresome to me quickly when everyone else I knew loved it. Priest now belonged to a much larger audience than my circle of friends and oh well, that is bound to happen if a band is lucky.

Defenders Of The Faith (1984): Thanks to MTV songs like “Freewheel Burning” kicked an upgraded level of ass and added to the bands legendary numbers. “Love Bites” and “The Sentinel” hailed here and were favorites as well while “Some Heads Are Gonna Roll” got the world singing and tearing up venues like Madison Square Garden during one of their concerts. Still an awesome release and the bands introduction of the massive stage monster The Metallian.

Turbo (1986): Synthesizers and Priest? Well, it was an experiment that for many was a bad idea but historically speaking there are some interesting tunes on this one along with a few absolutely lame ones. The band seemed to be playing to an MTV centric crowd here and songs like “Parental Guidance” and “Private Property” remain among the lamest in the bands body of work. Thinking of the word lame in the same sentence that one says Judas Priest in is almost blasphemous but it was what it was.

Priest…Live (1987): The smart money would have been on the band releasing a live concert document for the “Defenders” tour but instead they opted for “Turbo” so there are strange outfits and many colors and of course the synths that drove people mad with that album. Years later I consider this a solid live album but nothing that can even come close to “Unleashed”.

Ram It Down (1988): When “Ram” was released I had largely lost interest in Priest after the recent letdowns and wanted to devote my time to bands that were keeping true and also pursuing my own Metal adventures upon the scene. Looking back there is some good stuff on “Ram” and the band was not afraid to be heavy once again. I would of course consider their version of “Johnny B. Goode” as a heinous offense and felt this was something that was left behind from “Turbo”.

Painkiller (1990): Gone was drummer Dave Holland and in his place Scott Travis from Racer X. Monster drummer who brought the band the power and drive that they once again needed behind the kit. This was by far the heaviest album in a number of years and essentially upgraded some Metal ideas that we felt formulating with “Screaming For Vengeance”. Sadly, Halford would leave the band and go solo for over a decade after this tour.

Angel Of Retribution (2005): Welcome back Rob Halford, while we liked what Ripper did with the band for a few years you have been missed. I’ll admit I was 50/50 on this recording but super glad that Rob had come back. Tunes like “Judas Rising” and “Hellrider” and “Angel” rang the loudest in my Metal mind.

Nostradamus (2008): Blech. I just couldn’t do it with this one. I admired the bands desire to give us an epic concept piece but I think there was too many “non” kickass moments on “Nostradamus” to keep their most hard core of fans even remotely interested. Fortunately they decided to scrap this as a full tour idea. Call me closed minded but I only felt that two tunes were redeemable on this one. If you loved it, then more power to you.

Touch Of Evil (2009): A pretty cool live album that featured a lot of the songs that the band had been playing over the last few tours and some hidden gems that fans never expected to hear again. If you were curious to how Priest was sounding in this point in musical history then this was a good place to stop and listen. Much like its predecessor “Priest Live” it was a far cry from the jaw dropping “Unleashed In The East”.

So there you have it. The albums are packaged in a sturdy cardboard box which sadly had no real ornateness to it other than the imposing title. When you open this fold out box you find all of the CD’s packaged in miniature “sleeves” to give them the aspect of being records. As mentioned all of the albums are remastered and that means if you already own the remastered catalog you might want to think twice about this hefty priced item. Of course this is the first time you could own a fresh, official copy of the bands two earliest releases and this also seems to be the only place to get a remaster of the latest three recordings of “Angel Of Retribution”, “Nostradamus” and “Touch Of Evil”. These five albums feature no additional tracks while the originally remastered catalog does. There is a 40 page booklet with liner notes and some credits along with some black and white photographs, but this is NOT the combined batch of booklets from the original remasters and hence struck me as just a little bit less as opposed to more. Those often had lyrics and color photos while this does not. As present this release is only available via the Popmarket Music Club.

As I stressed this is for the super diehard Priest fan if they own all the stuff already or someone who has always wanted to build up their collection but has not yet done so. I will remain hopeful that the powers that be choose to release the first two and last three albums as remasters packaged individually for those fans that have everything else and only need these. Closing up I think I should mention that the Priest webmaster might want to edit the bands page and take away the reference to fans not buying the first two albums anymore since they are now at least available in this configuration. At this writing Judas Priest is on their “Epitaph” tour which is said to be the bands almost farewell. Let’s see how that pans out.

Album Listing:
1. Rocka-Rolla (1974)
2. Sad Wings Of Destiny (1976)
3. Sin After Sin (1977)
4. Stained Class (1978)
5. Killing Machine (1978)
6. Unleashed In The East (1979)
7. British Steel (1980)
8. Point Of Entry (1981)
9. Screaming For Vengeance (1982)
10. Defenders Of The Faith (1984)
11. Turbo (1986)
12. Priest…Live (1987)
13. Ram It Down (1988)
14. Painkiller
15. Angel Of Retribution
16. Nostradamus
17. Touch Of Evil

Official Website: www.judaspriest.com

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