Review Summary: Ladies and gentle men, we present to you: UNLEASHED IN THE...
After 5 studio albums, Judas Priest fans (more specifically: the Japanese ones) were eager for a live album by the British heavy metal act. Priest answered to this call, and made their first live recording in Tokyo, during the 1979 Hell Bent for Leather Tour
. It was released worldwide in October the same year (although originally only a Japanese release had been planned), and was the first of many Priest albums to feature Tom Allom on production duties (who would leave after 1998’s Ram It Down
). It does not contain the entire Tokyo concert, although the 2001 remaster added 4 take-outs not on the original release. The album was well-received and the first of a stream of Priest albums to reach the US Top 100.
However, Unleashed in the East
, as the album was called, was surrounded by rumours about its authenticity. Claims were made about Rob Halford’s vocals, that were supposedly overdubbed in the studio, as well as the guitar parts. Some even went as far as to say that the album was completely recorded in the studio, and made to sound like a live recording by clever engineering, jokingly referring to it as ‘Unleashed in the Studio’. It was later admitted by both Halford and Tipton that the vocals were done over in the studio, as Halford was suffering from the flu at the time of recording and the original vocals mix was ruined. Whether there is truth to these claims or not, Unleashed in the East stands today as Priest’s most famous live recording, and is still hailed as one of those brilliant 70’s live albums by many.
Unleashed in the East’s Judas Priest was:
- Robert John Arthur Halford ~ Vocals
- Kenneth Downing Jr. ~ Lead Guitar
- Glenn Raymond Tipton ~ Lead Guitar
- Ian Frank Hill ~ Bass Guitar
- James Leslie Binks ~ Drums
Unleashed in the East: The Good & The Bad
- The song choices: The 70’s were Priest’s prime decade, and spawned a majority of their best material. The list here is most impressive, with the classics from Sad Wings of Destiny
and Diamonds and Rust
from Sin after Sin
from Stained Class
, and the choice cuts from Killing Machine
. A minor issue is the two classics Dissident Aggressor
and Beyond the Realms of Death
that are missing.
- The intensity: As is popular in live performances, all songs are played in a faster tempo and than their studio originals. This often adds loads of intensity to the performance. Exciter
, Running Wild
, among others, profit heavily from this and are improvements on their studio versions. Green Malanishi
is not sped up that much, but sounds ear-pleasingly heavier.
- Downing & Tipton: The band is at its peak here, and the guitarists are no exception. The play faster, the play heavy, and they make improvisations and extended solos that only belong in a live recording.
- The ‘Live’ vibe: Unfortunately, it is almost unavoidable to hear to Halford’s vocals were overdubbed in the studio. This does not only make this album unauthentic, but is also an opposing factor in the listening experience. A listener will want to hear real live vocals in a live concert, which are vital to the feel of the album, where these are clearly studio-sounding, which is a shame. The decision was perhaps the lesser of two evils, as the parts in which Halford is talking to the audience (‘Thank you’ at the end of Victim of Changes
, for example), do indeed sound as if he was in a bad condition.
- The Sad Wings of Destiny classics: While most part of the album seems to benefit from a sped-up live rendition, the tracks from that album suffer from it instead. There was a unique and perfectly carried out atmosphere on the original tracks, which is ruined for a whole great deal here. Especially the dark theatrics of The Ripper
and the middle, near-psychedelic part of Victim of Changes
are blasphemously performed.
Unleashed in the East should have been the pinnacle of Priest’s success; a perfect, flawless live recording featuring the best songs of their best decade. What it turned out to be however, is not that what it should have been. Some songs gain from the playing speed, some suffer from it, but the worst flaw is the studio overdubbing, which is not at all good for the ‘live’ atmosphere, be it a necessary decision or not. This really should be THE fantastic Judas Priest live album, and should be rated it as a superb or even classic record, but it doesn’t deserve that. Still, despite its flaws, Unleashed in the East is an overall excellent rendition of a collection of fantastic songs and a very enjoyable listen.
+ Features their best songs of their best decade
+ Live intensity and sped-up performances enhance several songs to a higher level
+ Guitarists are in perfect shape
- Overdubbing of vocals slightly ruins the atmosphere
- While the faster playing may be good for many songs, it also affects some in a bad way
The Green Malanishi (With the Two-Pronged Crown)