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Judas Priest – Reading Rock 75 (Zodiac 131)

Judas Priest – Reading Rock ’75Reading Rock 75 (Zodiac 131)

Reading Festival, Reading, England – August 22, 1975

(65:45) Recorder 1: Victim Of Changes, Dreamer Deceiver, Deceiver, The Ripper, Mother Son, Island Of Domination, KK Downing Guitar Solo, Genocide Intro, Rocka Rolla. Recorder 2: Victim Of Changes, Dreamer Deceiver, Deceiver

DVD (2:47) 8mm Judas Priest and crowd footage

Every once in a while a title is released where the instant you see it, you say to yourself “I am getting that one”, this is one of those titles. In the early 80’s when Metal had taken hold of me and I started listening to something other than AC/DC, Sabbath, and Maiden, Judas Priest was the next link in the chain. By then I had British Steel and Screaming For Vengeance but there was more, you only had to spend time in your local record store browsing to notice there were quite a few older records from the group. The first I bought was Sin After Sin, with its imposing dark cover the record was different than the band’s 80’s output. Then in a budget rack was one I had not seen before, it was priced right so I took it home, the record was Sad Wings Of Destiny. The music found within was drastically different, sure you have Victim Of Changes and The Ripper, true metal classics, but you also had gentle music, like Dreamer Deceiver and the haunting Epitath. In subsequent years I would gather the band’s entire 70’s output, music I still treasure to this day and the reasoning is simple. The band were finding their way musically, they were adventurous and not afraid to take chances. During the 70’s they had yet to adopt the black leather and studs look that would become their trademark, they often wore flowing shirts and tall boots. Their music was on the cutting edge of Heavy Metal thanks to trail blazers like Sabbath and Deep Purple yet they still had a part of their sound that was influenced by bands like Queen and Jimi Hendrix with a certain Prog influence thrown in.

One of the band’s earliest live recordings is in fact the one from the 1975 Reading Festival, it features most of the band’s performance from the festival, there are just a couple cuts but otherwise it is complete. The audience source is good to very good yet a bit thin sounding, you can here the instruments and vocals clearly and there is a little bit of audience disturbance from time to time but nothing bad. Being an outside recording it does phase around but that is to be expected. The material labeled as recorder 1 has been released before in incomplete form as The Ripper (Gypsy Eye-006), that release actually features another recording from a few months later and while both recordings are incomplete it is worth tracking down. The band hits the stage with little fanfare and Halford introduces Victim Of Changes, dating back to original Priest singer Al Atkins days in the band, the song is an amalgamation of his original Whiskey Woman and Halford’s Red Light Lady. During this time the band were actually recording what would become Sad Wings Of Destiny, although it would not be released until March 1976, the band was using the live stage to help hone the material. There is a small cut in the song and Recorder 2 is used to fill the gap from 6:48 to 7:33, the patch is seamless and well handled.

Dreamer Deceiver and Deceiver follow, the former starts off soft and melancholy, the but features a great KK Downing guitar solo as the song builds and breaks into Deceiver, pure embryonic metal at its best, Halford sounds if he is spewing the lyrics with venom. The Ripper follows, very close to the version we all know and love, only real difference is some of Rob’s phrasing and the middle section has some interesting riffing. The next track is of major historical importance, the unreleased song here called Mother Son, also referred to as Mother Sun and Father Mother Son. Showing a strong influence by Queen, the song is a prototype power ballad with excellent vocals by Rob and Glenn Tipton. The brilliant Island Of Domination follows, certainly one of Rob’s more interesting early lyric the song is pure metal, great heavy riff that goes from slow to fast in the blink of an eye. KK’s solo follows but is cut badly and it is hard to make a real but what is present is a Hendrix style throw up, too bad I would have like to hear the whole thing but feedback is sometimes good too. The Genocide intro is a short minute long jam on the riff that evolves into Rocka Rolla, the title track from the first record is effective live, played at a faster tempo, the twin guitar attack is excellent during some of the lead passages and they use the song for a bit of “festival fun stuff” in the form of a clap and sing along. The sound quality does sadly diminish towards the end of the song as if the taper moved his equipment but still stays in the listenable range.

Recorder 2 is from a Japanese music fan who went to England for the festival and taped the band both on audio and the 3 minute video clip found on this release. His equipment was better hence the better sound, fully into the very good range yet sadly incomplete, clocking in at 17 minutes. The sound is rich and full and sounds like it was taped closer to the stage, so much that there is minor distortion in the upper frequencies. This source sounds incredible when turned up loud! The Japanese gentleman also video taped a portion of Priest set, in full color. The footage has been synced with audio as well and whoever did it, great job! The footage captures the band in the live setting, Rob has shorter hair and is very dynamic live, Glenn’s outfit is standard for the time and KK has the whole Hendrix / Uli Roth vibe going on. When I first saw this set I was thinking, 3 minutes? what the hell. But after viewing it I can only say incredible to have such a glimpse of early Priest onstage. The taper also captures audience shots, there is a short clip of a gray fuzzy hair old man head banging that had me rolling. An excellent addition to this set.

The inserts are a take on the Rocka Rolla record, Glenn looks considerably different with his mustache and Rob with long, flowing locks to boot! The rear tray inlet is also fashioned after the old Gull records. The cd and DVD has the front cover picture on them and we also get the highly collectable numbered sticker. Like I stated before, I was not expecting a release like this from Zodiac, it is an adventurous release that features essential material, the quality is more than listenable and quite rare. A very highly recommended title!

If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)

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