Review Summary: Despite a few glaring mistakes, this is a worthy compilation that will introduce any interested parties to the wonderful leather-and-spikes world of Judas Priest. For a single-disc edition, you could hardly ask for more.
Compilation albums: the best way to get to know an artist, or shameless money-suckers for unsuspecting fans? Well, in the case of Living After Midnight: The Best Of Judas Priest
, we should thankfully go with the later.
Now, resuming 20 years of solid output is never easy, but there are certain factors that may contribute to make it a little less strenuous. Being a big recording company is definitely one of them.
Being a big record company means that you can put out a decent, well-rounded, quality compilation, rather than a shoddy, rushed, cheap-looking and –sounding affair (i.e. 90 percent of compilations in the market.)
Living After Midnight
is released by Universal, which is a big recording company. This means that this is a decent, well-rounded, quality compilation, rather than a shoddy, rushed, cheap-looking and –sounding affair.
In fact, this compilation is (almost) the best a Judas Priest fan could ask for, double-disc editions notwithstanding. This is 25 years of heavy metal in 80 minutes or less. All the recognisable Priest classics are here, with perfect sound quality (the British Steel
songs in particular benefit from the remaster), a nice-looking booklet with lots of photos, and even a short (and very very non-detailed) history of the group. The fact that this looks, upon first glance, like a cheapo compilation may have been an intentional rip on the market tendencies – if so, it works fairly well, because initially this managed to fool me, too. However, once we delve into the record, we discover that this is definitely a professional affair.
Now, the main difficulty that Universal/BMG faced when making this record was: where do we cut back? After all, Priest have so many good records and songs that there is no way they would all fit in one record. The solution they found for this was graceful: they cut back on Priest’s early years, where their sound was not yet defined, making for less interesting listening experiences. Hence, the first record represented here is 1978’s Stained Class
, which is represented by Better Than You, Better Than Me
. So far, so good. The problem starts next.
Sure, the solution found by Universal worked fairly well, as noted, and will satisfy the majority of Priest fans. However, what is more likely to piss them off is the tracklist. Why? Because there are some glaring omissions and some clear casting errors. For instance: why represent Killing Machine/Hell Bent For Leather
through Take on the World
rather than the title track? Take on the World
is a good song, but Hell Bent For Leather
is one of the can’t-miss tracks of Judas Priest’s career. So why not both? And where, pray tell, is Heading Out to the Highway
? One of the best Priest songs is conspicuously absent from this record, with the respective album – 1981’s Point of Entry
being represented only by (the also good) Hot Rockin’
. In fact, most of the albums of the spanned period are represented by only one, maybe two tracks, giving too much protagonism to British Steel
. Hell, even Screaming For Vengeance
only gets two tracks! The Hellion/Electric Eye
and You’ve Got Another Thing Coming
are fine, but they’re really just the singles. Where’s Riding on the Wind
? Where’s that album’s title track? I could go on, but you get the point: some songs that should – had to – have been on here aren’t.
And instead, what do we get? Johnny B. Goode
from Ram It Down
. This has got to be the worst cover of this song I have ever heard, and unworthy of a band like Judas Priest. We also get Painkiller
filler tracks like A Touch of Evil
and debatable picks like Take on the World
. It’s frustrating.
Still, apart from these (not so) slight mistakes, this is a worthy compilation that will introduce any interested parties to the wonderful leather-and-spikes world of Judas Priest. For a single-disc edition, you could hardly ask for more. If only they’d included those few key tracks…
- Good quality overall
- It’s Priest
- Very complete for a single-disc edition
- Omission of some key tracks
- Debatable tracklist choiced
- Johnny B. Goode