It was time for Priest to release another live album. After the success of the band’s 1986 album ‘Turbo’ and the very successful tour called ‘Fuel for Life Tour’, the band was still riding high. It was decided to capture this new era of Priest with a live album. The album takes songs from two of the band’s shows on the tour. The first was from my hometown of Atlanta, Ga from the show on June 15, 1986 at the Omni. Back then I would’ve been 17 years old and about to start my Senior Year in High School which means I was in to the whole glam rock scene with the likes of Poison and Ratt and those bands. I wasn’t listening to Priest so completely missed that show…now I look on it sadly because what a show it would’ve been. The second show they took songs from was from the Dallas, TX show on June 27, 1986 at Reunion Arena. And from the sounds of this album, both shows were spectacular.
What I find really cool about this release is they did the same thing Kiss did with Alive! and Alive II. They did not repeat any tracks on the albums. Yep, all the songs on Priest…Live! were from the era after ‘Unleashed in the East’ so you get an entirely new set of songs. As a fan, I completely appreciate and love that fact. Then you can throw on both albums and play them back to back and get a killer show with no repeats. Good job guys.
The track listing is great with over 15 tracks covering the 5 albums. You get 5 from ‘Turbo’ which makes sense since that is the album they were touring at the time. You get 4 from ‘Defenders of the Faith’, 2 from ‘Screaming for Vengeance’, only 1 from ‘Point of Entry’ and 3 from ‘British Steel’. The version I have has 3 bonus tracks which is 1 from ‘Defenders of the Faith’, 1 from ‘Screaming for Vengeance’ and ‘Hell Bent for Leather’ which would technically be the only repeat, but since this is a bonus track and not on the original album it doesn’t count.
After the tour supporting the band’s last album, ‘British Steel’, the band went right back in the studio to do the follow-up, ‘Point of Entry’, which would be the band’s eighth studio album. The last album did so well, the band didn’t want to change things up so we basically got the same album as before, except maybe not quite as heavy or as good. The hauled all their equipment to Ibiza Studios in Spain to record this one and not a bad place to be I can imagine, but did it bring any fresh inspiration? I think not. I think a big problem was the band had a real substance abuse problem, especially Rob as he
The band, believe it or not, stayed in tack with the same drummer as last time, David Holland. That alone is a massive achievement for the band. The remaining cast of characters were still Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton, K.K. Downing and Ian Hill. The main core of the band. They recorded the album from October-November of 1980 and released the album on February 26, 1981. I won’t say the reception was lukewarm, as the album did go gold and produce a few singles. It only went to #39 in the US and #14 in the UK which isn’t a whole lot worse then the prior album, but the prior one did go platinum.
I think a big problem was the band had a real substance abuse problem, especially Rob as he tried to cope with his every growing loneliness being a gay metal rocker. But I think another problem was this resort like atmosphere of the Spanish island, gave the band way too many distractions. They would some time working and some time riding motorcross and partying. Hard to get proper work done when you are focusing on other things. I think these distractions led to a slightly disjointed album.
The album though does kick off with a great, classic Priest tune “Heading Out to the Highway”. It opened with a great dual guitar riff from Downing & Tipton and then great rhythm section from Hill & Holland and then Halford bad ass guy vocals sounding all tough and mean. It is a great driving song as its speedy tempo makes you want to crank it up and push the foot on the pedal a little harder. I remember seeing the song and MTV and cranking the TV as loud as it would go which wasn’t that loud as it was such a crappy TV.
“Don’t Go” comes up next and thumps along and slow yet heavy beat and is quite seductive and sexy. The song then explodes at the chorus which is very catchy. The guitar solo is the highlight as it really screams to be heard. It is almost the climax of this seductive dance.
“Hot Rockin'” brings it back to a more uptempo metal pace. It is a straight up rocker and one of my favorites on the album. It is full of energy and Halford attacks it with gusto and another guitar solo that is just as brutal as Rob’s vocals. By the time the song ends you are exhausted yet dying for more.
Next we get “Turning Circles” that opens with a non-sounding Priest guitar riff. It isn’t as gritty and powerful. The song feels like it is going in circles and unable to find any place to go. The music is repetitive sounding and leaves you wanting more. Rob sounds great vocally, but I found it dull overall.
But don’t fret, as the next song, “Desert Plains”, gets right back on track. It opens with a loud, heavy drum peat from Holland and if full of duel guitar work from Tipton and Downing and thumping bass line from Hill. Halford comes on and gives a serious tone which almost feels a little ominous in presentation. It is another song that feels like you are driving fast down the road weaving in and out of cars and that there is a dangerous element you can’t escape from and is following you about to catch you. Overall, this is a killer track and might be my favorite track on the album. A great way to close out the first half of the album.
The second half of the album kicks off with “Solar Angels” and a some great dual guitar work. Plus you get a Tipton solo and then a dual solo at the end. I think the highlight of the song is the musicianship as it seems to be more music and less vocals. There are some wild space sounding effects thrown in to go with the song title and add some flair. It is a decent track and might be the better song on the back half. The album starts to lose me from here.
“You Say Yes” is a song with a pretty awful chorus. The rest isn’t much better, but this song screams filler even if there is some cool bass by Ian Hill, though not cool enough to save the song. It is quite dreary and I am ready to move on to the next track.
Next up is “All The Way” and I’m not sure this is a metal song. It seems so contrived and the band seems to be reaching for a radio hit or commercial friendly sound. It seems like they are trying to write a party song as it is too chipper and is that supposed to be a handclap sound…oh goodness, spare me.
“Troubleshooter” is a little better as it is a little darker and has a great groove to it. The guitar work is sensational with Tipton starting the solo and Downing finishing it up. I do love when they share the solo, that is always worth a listen. I think it helps save the song…a little.
The final track, “On the Run”, actually has a strong opening and Halford’s vocals are soaring. He sounds smooth and the high notes are sensational and what I love from him. Give me this Priest any day of the week. Another hard, driving beat and some great drumming by Holland as well. They saved Side 2 from being a dismal failure with this track. This is more like what I want to hear from the band.
The Bonus Tracks on this one consist of “Thunder Road” which was recorded during the “Ram It Down” sessions from 1988 which makes no sense for it to be the bonus track on an album from 1981. It is a solid, heavy ass rocking song though. Production wise, it doesn’t sound clean and fully finished, but song wise, it is great and better than a lot of songs on this album. I like Hill’s bass as it is the Thunder on this Road (see what I did there!!).
The next bonus song is “Desert Plains” which was recorded live at Kiel Auditorium, St. Louis, Missouri; 23 May 1986. The song feels like it is sped up a little from the studio track. There is a lot of double bass from Holland how was still with the band in 1986 believe it or not. The studio version is still better, but this shows how the band can tweak a song live and turn it in to something a little different. Now it is faster and heavier and still pretty good.
Heading Out to the Highway – Keeper
Don’t Go – Keeper
Hot Rockin’ – Keeper
Turning Circles – Delete
Desert Plains – Keeper
Solar Angels – Keeper
You Say Yes – Delete
All The Way – Delete
Troubleshooter – Keeper(1/2 Point)
On The Run – Keeper
Desert Plains (Live)
The Track Score is 6.5 out of 10 or 65%. This is the first album so far I have actually been a little disappointed in. Don’t get me wrong, it has its moments, but overall it was the first album I didn’t see growth of some kind. It was ‘British Steel’ light or 2.0…but not as good. They tried to copy the success of ‘British Steel’ to no avail. They had too many distractions and the band was in a bad place with this one and you can tell from the sound of these songs. Overall, I will only give it a 3.0 out of 5.0 Stars as I still liked more than half the tracks, the rest was just weak.