Mudd Club, New York City, NY, USA – March 11, 1979
(41:34) Intro, Hell Bent For Leather, Delivering The Goods, Running Wild, Beyond The Realms Of Death, The Green Manalishi, Victim Of Changes, Rock Forever, Starbreaker
Judas Priest’s tour to support the Killing Machine aka Hell Bent For Leather record was a worldwide affair and would feature three American Legs, the second of these dates was from late February to Early May 1979 and the second stop on the tour was an Invitation only gig at New York’s Mudd Club. The club took their name from the infamous Samuel Mudd, the physician who treated Presidential assassin John Wilkes Booth after the villain killed Abraham Lincoln. What better name for a club that would try to rival the famous Studio 54 as a venue for music, culture and fashion. This club would curiously feature Judas Priest in an invitation only gig for their patrons and it is rumored that Andy Warhol was actually at this gig. Priest were on the cutting edge of their music, having relinquished the 70’s rock style with the sleek look of black leather and studs that would become their trademark, one that would define Heavy Metal in the 1980’s. The Killing Machine record would epitomize that look with a straight forward sound that would be pure Priest, a sound that would be perfected on British Steel.
The source for this release is a soundboard recording from the Wolfgang’s Vault of treasures, it has a perfect mix of vocals and instruments, a very slight bit of hiss is present but the recording has a nice warm feeling and sounds incredible at loud volumes. The recording begins with Les Binks checking his drums and Rob Halford telling the crowd “This is spontaneous music” and the band break into Hell Bent for Leather. The song is in its original short form and is an effective opening number, the audience is small and it seems that there are only a handful of people interested to clap and shout. The band waste little time and go into Delivering The Goods, full of metal swagger Rob does a superb vocal on the number as it gives him a change to go from almost a vocal recital to full scream and Les Binks has his cool drum outro. Rob thanks the crowd and says the next song is for Joe Jackson who he would like to meet. Running Wild is classic Priest from start to finish, fast riff coupled with incredible guitar playing, KK’s solo is pure psychedelic metal at its finest and perfect as Les Binks hammers on the double bass drums.
“This is from the Stained Class album…it’s for all of you who have IQ’s Beyond The Realms Of Death” is Rob’s introduction to Priest first proto metal power ballad. Its dark tale of isolation and rebirth in the dark realms is one of the band’s greatest songs. Les Binks’ drumming is crystal clear and we can enjoy his playing throughout this performance, for me he was certainly the best drummer the band had. Glenn’s guitar solo is low in the mix but it does clear up for the last few notes, eerie in fashion. The song does waken the audience who give them a nice ovation at its conclusion. The band continue to support the “new” Hell Bent for Leather by playing a perfect version of Green Manalishi, the band is tight and so heavy when they break into the main riff in unison, I found myself waiting for it and they kick in, your like YES! This is Priest we all know and love.
The song no Priest concert should be without is Victim Of Changes, while the original studio version on Sad Wings Of Destiny is ok, the song really comes into its own on the concert stage and this line up of the band would delivery the definitive versions of the song. What makes the song so effective is the band’s use of open space, it has dramatic pauses and Les Binks is all over the place…fucking Hell Les! His fills hit the mark and the interplay between the two guitarists is perfection, one solos the other riffs then they lock in together and do it all again. Rob talks of Ronnie Scotts in London as it is a similar sized club, the band play Rock Forever next and it sounds somewhat out of place after Victim, the band do have an album to promote and the song is more of good time fair and during the twin leads part sounds almost like a bit of Southern Rock explosion. The final and only song from Sin After Sin is Starbreaker, KK does a Hendrix intro that leads into the rest of the band breaking in the machine gun riff. The song is a bit faster tempo than the original but is most certainly one of my favorites from the 70’s. I spent a lot of time listening to Sin After Sin so any versions of songs from it are welcome to my ears. Ian Hill plays a rock solid and thundering bass line for the song and sets the foundation and Les Binks gets a short drum solo during which Rob states “This is talent”, no doubt. Great compact concert and incredible sound, demanding to be played at 11.
The packaging is full color inserts with relevant photos from the era, the cover is great with Rob and Glen flanking the Killing Machine man with shatter glasses on. The rest is a selection of posed and live shots of the group, very nice looking. This is simply a must have recording, even though it’s a relatively short disc at 45 minutes, the performance and sound quality more than make up for it. A perfect snapshot of Priest on the verge of cracking the USA with their ferocious Metal music and well honed stage show. Another excellent release by the folks at Zodiac.