Unleashed In The East

Judas Priest

Columbia, 1979


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


In one sense, releasing a live album such as Unleashed In The East at this particular stage of Judas Priest's career was a smart move. If anything, this disc marks the close of the first stage of the British metal band's career, as they prepare for a level of stardom they had yet to achieve (yet had started to taste with their previous studio release Stained Class).

On the other hand, one has to wonder why such a slipshod-quality release ever was allowed to even leave the cutting-room floor. A sterile-sounding disc that has long been the subject of rumors regarding just how live the disc really is, this hardly does the band the justice they deserved. The first stage of their career may not have been directly in the spotlight, but it deserved better treatment than this.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Let's clear up the rumor right now: according to the All-Music Guide, lead singer Rob Halford had admitted in interviews that he was forced to re-do the vocals on this album after his live vocals were ruined in the original mix. Fair enough -- but why does it sound like the audience is cut-and-pasted in at times? I've been to funerals that were livelier affairs than this particular show. And do not try and tell me that Japanese audiences are more refined and controlled -- remember, this album was released at a time when many live sets from Japan were being released. Listen to how animated the audience is on Cheap Trick's At Budokan, and tell me Japanese audiences are reserved while maintaining a straight face.

It is the lack of real interaction with the crowd that turns out to be one of the two fatal flaws with this particular disc. The second is the track selection - it sometimes feels that too much material is pulled from the pre-Columbia releases like Sad Wings Of Destiny. (I'm working from the original release of this album; a re-issue from a few years ago included bonus tracks from this show. One of these days, I'll have to update the Pierce Memorial Archives completely to CD.) So while tracks such as "Exciter" and "Sinner" do tend to light up the speakers in a positive way, other tracks like "Running Wild" (yes, a more current track, I know) and "Victim Of Changes" -- the latter a track I happened to like on Sad Wings Of Destiny -- just don't pull off the same magic in the live setting. And what the hell happened to "Tyrant," a track that had some evidence of menace in the studio setting? It's far too rushed this time around -- and Halford speeding through the vocals absolutely kills the track.

Maybe -- just maybe -- if Judas Priest had put on more recent material such as "Hell Bent For Leather," "Better By You, Better Than Me" or "Delivering The Goods" (two of which are included in the remaster), this disc would have been something special. As it stands, Unleashed In The East is far too tame of an outing from Judas Priest, and is not a fitting document to mark the end of the first phase of their career.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2005 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Columbia, and is used for informational purposes only.