Judas Priest delivers on ‘British Steel’ — again!

Judas Priest
“British Steel — 30th Anniversary Edition”
Legacy

★★★★

by Pat Prince

The classic album, bookended by two of the best metal songs put to record — “Rapid Fire” and “Steeler” — is celebrated here in all its glory. The music still sounds relevant after 30 years, as songs like “Metal Gods” and “Grinder” describe their own essence perfectly. Even an ’80s anthem like “United” revitalizes itself in the 21st century. And, hopefully, underappreciated songs like “You Don’t Have To Be Old To Be Wise” and “The Rage” will gain a new audience with this anniversary disc.

There are a few things that do pull up lame in this re-issue of “British Steel.” One is the alteration of the cover. Instead of the iconic photograph of fingers tensely grasping a razor’s edge, ready to bleed, the blade is now seen in some kind of CGI perpetual motion as the blood is gushing beneath it. Some things should be left alone — even in a sharp re-issue like this one.

The other is a bonus track called “Red White & Blue.” This was on the last “British Steel” remastered release. But the song is about as mediocre as Judas Priest’s creativity can ever get (not counting the “Turbo Lover” LP, that is). There’s a reason this song was forgotten for many years. It’s a corny, plodding bit of jingoism added to the album because of it’s presumed nationalistic bent. This is clearly not a bonus but an oddity. It should have been left off.

The addition of the DVD, however, is fantastic. Last year’s British Steel Anniversary Tour was a major success and you can see and hear why from this live DVD of a show in Hollywood, Florida. Each song is given new life. And to experience “Steeler” live (even if it is on DVD) can send shivers up your spine. Remarkable.

The highlights continue after the performance of the entire “British Steel” album, too. “Hell Patrol” is as intense as you will ever hear it; “Freewheel Burning” takes on a thrashier (read: better) edge; and “Prophecy” shows just as much promise away from the conceptual meat of the ‘Nostradamus” album.

If there was a way to celebrate “British Steel,” Judas Priest have delivered, capping it off with this wonderful re-issue. A must for any fan who collects the very best of Judas Priest.

For related items that you may enjoy in our Goldmine store:
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Get a Goldmine back issue. Editor’s Pick: Whitesnake cover story (August 15, 2008) via digital download
Check out the book on classic guitars: “Classic Guitars, Identification and Price Guide,” By Nick Freeth

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