This double live album was recorded during Judas Priest’s “Fuel For Life” tour in support of their 1986 album Turbo. All fifteen tracks included on the LP were taken from Priest’s 1980-1986 albums. Therefore, there was no overlap of songs from with their previous live album, 1979’s Unleashed In The East. That was one of the only cool things about this otherwise inconsequential release.
Priest… Live! captured the band at a strange time in their career. Their latest album Turbo had found them experimenting with synthesized guitars and electronic drums, as well as writing pandering metal-lite slop. The Turbo album did go platinum, but in hindsight it seems that Judas Priest opted for immediate (and fleeting) commercial success at the expense of their longtime fans and, ultimately, their own legacy. Turbo was truly a colossal mistake.
The set list to Priest… Live! shows just how inconsistent Judas Priest’s 1980s album were. While they had some killer tunes like Electric Eye, Freewheel Burning, and Metal Gods, they also had a number of losers like Love Bites, Parental Guidance, and Private Property. Given that the album was recorded on the tour for Turbo, it doesn’t help matters that five of the fifteen songs on Priest… Live! came from that lousy LP.
Overall, Priest… Live! is a bore. Judas Priest sounded too deliberate and too vanilla in their arena rock phase. The use of synth guitars on some of the songs doesn’t help matters — it makes the album sound quite dated. And there is always the looming question of how much of this recording is truly “live” and how much was edited in post-production. Given the dodgy stories that surround Unleashed In The East‘s “live-ness”, one can’t help but be skeptical. The crowd noises are obviously pumped in, which is distracting more than anything else. But it doesn’t really matter because at the end of the day Priest… Live! is as toothless as it is useless. My score: C+