Judas Priest/British Steel [30th Anniversary Edition]

British Steel: 30th Anniversary: Deluxe Edition

British Steel is the sixth album by British heavy metal band Judas Priest, released on 14 April 1980. British Steel was recorded at Tittenhurst Park, home of former Beatle John Lennon, after a false start at Startling Studios, a recording studio located on Tittenhurst’s grounds. Sampling did not yet exist at the time of recording, so the band recorded the sounds of smashing milk bottles to be included in “Breaking the Law”, as well as various sounds in “Metal Gods” produced by “trays of cutlery” and “billiard cues”. It was released in the UK at a discount price of £3.99, with the advertisements in the music press bearing the legend, “British Steal”. Songs “Breaking the Law“, “United“, and “Living After Midnight” were released as singles, while the track “Metal Gods” earned the band members their moniker.

The album was remastered in 2001, with two bonus tracks added. Bonus track “Red, White, and Blue” was written in the earlier years of Priest’s career. It was recorded at Compass Point Studios in Nassau in July of 1985. The second bonus track, a live performance of “Grinder”, was recorded on 5 May 1984, in Los Angeles during the Defenders of the Faith tour.

In 2009 Judas Priest kicked off the 30th anniversary tour in the US playing the entire album live for the first time.

Anthrax guitar player Scott Ian said in an interview in the documentary Heavy Metal: Louder than Life that British Steel was probably the album that really defined heavy metal, because it, according to him, did away with the “last shards of blues” that had otherwise been characteristic of the genre. He said, “Even the title… how does it get more metal than that?”

The 30th Anniversary release of the album, came with a Live DVD, and Live CD recorded on August 17th, 2009 at The Seminole Hard Rock Arena in Hollywood, Florida as part of the British Steel 30th Anniversary tour.[1] The Live versions of all the British Steel tracks from this release were also made available as downloadable content for the Rock Band series beginning May 11th, 2010. [Wikipedia]

Rapid Fire—-Although new and interesting, at this point in their career, the Machine had a sound that was all their own. With the recognizable twin guitar attack and a surprising drum that is right at the front of the mix, Halford delivers a lyric that defines Heavy Metal. Although subdued throughout most of the song, Halford had a tone is his vocal that would set the bar for any Metal band that came after…this is a glorious piece of history.

Metal Gods—-Outside of ‘Victims’, this has remained through the years my favorite Priest song…and the song that decided the direction of the band. Indeed Priest are true Metal Gods…surviving upheavels, grunge, coming out and near dis bandment…yet the Metal Gods still hold the trophy clear and high. This is as important to them as Run To The Hills is to Maiden. The melody and full feel of the guitars are remarkable…the vocal is classic and this remains….history.

Breaking The Law—-Perhaps the one track that really broke the band in the US, I personally am to sick and over this song. It still holds a few high points for me…the vocal…the aggressive nature…all play into the Metal handbook…but, when you have listened to this stuff as long and as many times as I have…some of it will get old…such as it is. And when Halford lets that scream loose….watch the fuck out!!!

Grinder—-With short metallic chords and a marvelous melody running underneath the entire song, Halford adds his almost theatrical vocal to the mix and paints a picture that looking back on it all makes you wonder what the hell he is singing about!!! This is classic..still holding on to the slight blues sound of yesteryear, the Metal relevance is still magnificent and has been even more fine tuned since then.

United—-Purists and all those critics aside….I FREAKING LOVE THIS SONG!!! Always have always will. The song has a great empowering feel to it that just makes you want to jump, shout and kick ass all around you. Some would call it too positive or to poppy…to me it is pure magic…I never get tired of this remarkable song!!!

You Don’t Have To Be Old To Be Wise—-With a lone guitar intro, the track develops into everything that has become monumental in the world of Priest…the magnificent drums…the guitar sound that allows you to know from the first chord you are hearing and the vocal that plays between lazy and histrionic. This has it all and will leave you will a huge smile on your face….of course now that we are old we question that belief…LMAO!!!!

Living After Midnight—-Another classic Priest song that has been over player and over promoted, this always seems to get my blood pumping despite the thousands of times I have heard it. Of course…this is the leather and Harley song…how can you go wrong. This is a huge band effort that pumps up the crowd on a simple repeating chord that belongs in the Smithsonian Institute….this is Red White and American!!!

The Rage—-The song begins with the uncharacteristic present bass line…something that hearkens back to the earliest days of Priest…the result is worth the wait as the full on Metal onslaught begins and the mayhem sucks you in. This is huge Heavy Metal….Halford threatens to break out into the spotlight as the gay man…this is almost to theatrical…the vocal despite that is freaking inhuman. How does this man sing like this…and still sing like this when all of his counterparts have fallen by the wayside? Even Bruce can’t keep up with this guy!!!! This is phenomenal and a pleasure to hear in this remastered version…everything is so much cleaner and crisp.

Steeler—-No messing around as this song kicks off in full throttle from the very onset. Halford sounds a bit odd….as if his vocal is echoed a bit to much…but the energy can not be denied. This is fantastic and could rival any of the ‘popular’ songs on this CD. This is without a doubt, a band coming into their own and issuing a release that ultimately changed the landscape of the Metal we knew. This is phenomenal!!!

Bonus Tracks:

Red, White & Blue—-OK….this begins a little odd, but the promise is wonderfully built up…Halford sounds so majestic as he sings this anthem and the band answers with wonderful guitars. This is magnificent….I love the sincerity!!! When the chorus of voices enter…I still get goosebumps.

Grinder [Live]—-Recorded a bit later than the initial release of this CD, the song takes on a much more brutal and Metallic approach. It is always nice to hear the banter with the audience and the crowd responds with nothing but love for Halford & Co. The song has new energy and a bite to it that you can only get from a live Priest experience. This is nice, but was already repeated on Metalogy and countless other ‘live’ recordings.

****1/2 out of 5


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