Tyranny Unleashed In The East
(Tarnatura TCDJUDAS-3, 4)
The first live album from Judas Priest is a long time favorite of mine, I hold it high and rank it among my favorite live albums, Iron Maiden’s Maiden Japan, AC/DC’s If You Want Blood, The Scorpions Tokyo Tapes, Rush All The Worlds A Stage, Ozzy Speak Of The Devil, KISS ALIVE !…anyone who has heard it knows that it is incredible and earns its place in the company of these other live opuses. It contained incredible live versions of many standouts of the 70’s Priest catalog, a catalog that is sometimes overlooked by the more popular string of records in the 80’s that broke the band to massive worldwide metal status.
The record was recorded during the band’s tour of Japan in support of its brilliant Killing Machine record (aka Hell Bent For Leather). Tarantura has given us a prior release documenting a show from February 9, 1979 in Tokyo on the superb Killer Employee’s Pension (Tarantura TCDJUDAS -2) and now we have an even more special release, this one documents the next days events, both the afternoon and evening shows in a mini box set and like the previous title, it is source are excellent audience recordings from the Master, Mr. Peach.
Afternoon Show 4:00 PM Saturday February 10, 1979 Kosei Nenkin Kaikan, Tokyo, Japan
Disc 1 (52:42) Opening, SE / Start, Exciter, Running Wild, The Ripper, Diamonds And Rust, Rock Forever, Beyond The Realms Of Death, The Green Manalishi (With The Two Pronged Crown), Delivering The Goods, White Heat Red Hot, Sinner, Evil Fantasies
Disc 2 (35:55) Victim Of Changes, Genocide, Starbreaker, Drum Solo, Starbreaker, Hell Bent For Leather, Take On The World, Tyrant, Announcement
The recording used for the early in an incredible audience source, fully three dimensional with all instruments and vocals clear and fully enjoyable but with that touch of ambiance that cannot be found on many soundboard’s and is certainly among the best of Peach’s recordings, it is that good. The band take the stage amid the double bass drumming of Les Binks, who would be sacked from the band after 1979 to make way for former Trapeze sticksman Dave Holland, and the aggressive proto speed metal of Exciter from Stained Class. An early clear example of a genre that would come to prominence during the 80’s, the song has an obvious tip of the hat to Deep Puirple’s Fireball and is a perfect opener. It flows effortlessly into Running Wild and it is obvious the band has a set list that will go for the jugular.
One of the “stories” about the Unleashed in the East record that it was heavily over dubbed, in his excellent Heavy Metal Painkillers book documenting the Priest catalog Martin Popoff has quote’s from interview with Glenn Tipton where he said studio overdubbed where very little, primarily need to conceal the fact that Rob Halford was suffering from the flu and in poor voice. After listening to this set we can confirm that Rob was not in perfect shape for these concerts, he sounds horse and does not push his vocals and when he hits the highs he certainly does not have his regular power. He is not in all that bad shape as Diamonds and Rust shows, he manages to song the high notes while not forcing it and as usually the song is well received.
Rob finally greets the audience at the songs conclusion and introduced as song from the new record, Rock Forever. Just before the guitar solo’s Rob gives a wailing “Roooock….forgive my voice” as he stains to hit the notes, again another song that is a prototype for other bands to defend the rock and roll faith. A “beautiful ballad” is next, and a set highlight in the form of Beyond The Realms Of Death. A true metal masterpiece, it delivers lyrically and musically, Rob’s tortured vocals only add the dark noir feeling that the music evokes. The crowd at times clap along, adding a wonderful ambiance to the music, Priest are known for some early epics, this is certainly an exception to that. Rob tells the audience that they are not making much noise, they are very quiet for a metal show but perhaps it is too early, non the less the band go into White Heat Red Hot, a Glenn Tipton classic, it also features some great drumming from Les. Glen takes his solo first, a flurry of not that breaks into the time changing riff and a brief blast of notes from KK. The early Priest sound was honed to perfection by the guitarists and the opposite style that welded perfectly together. Certainly not the first twin guitar attack but certainly the first to perfect it.
KK gets his chance to shine amid the brutality of The Sinner. I remember having the Sin After Sin cassette when I was in high school and listening to obsessively. The apocalyptic lyric is easy for Rob to sing and the band turn in a superb performance, even when Rob needs it his voice does not fail him. KK’s solo is a metal meets psychedelia blend and is incredible, all the while Tipton, Binks, and Hall provide a rock solid foundation for him (*note – the volume should be very loud at this point !). Evil Fantasies is a nice slow and heavy song with a monster riff, KK plays nice wah pedal to boot and it is great to hear the live versions of the song as it would not be in the set list for long.
Epics ? Certainly the one song that set the standard is Victim Of Changes, partially written by the bands original singer one Al Atkins and finished when Rob joined the band it is a true Priest classic. Wiskey Woman is the first part and a pretty basic rock song before the instrumental machine kicks it into gear that leads into the Changes section. This is a huge vocal section for Rob, his voice does falter slightly during some of the slower changes but for his high pitch wail he surprising hit it as he does the final wail, incredible.
He again gives notice to his poor voice and introduced Genocide from the Sad Wings record. I love how heavy the riff is when both guitarist break into it, Glenn plays a killer solo during the song and the middle section has a nice jamming kind of thing going on that gets the crowd clapping, the ending is killer, the band play the riff and it sounds as if some huge war machine is traversing across the land, great great song. Too few songs from Sin After Sin are played, thankfully one of them is Starbreaker. Rob says this will be their last song as he introduces it and the KK show begins as he plays in insane opening to the song. The song has an infectious riff and Rob has no problem with the vocals as there are no real section that forces it, KK and Glenn play a nice harmony lead section. The song has a very short Les Binks drum solo and finally the songs coda ends the main set to a cheering, but restrained audience.
The crowd persistently clap and sheer for an encore, they are reward beginning with a fast and furious Hell Bent For Leather. The band had been using a motorcycle in many parts of the world but not during these shows, they first used a Triumph and it was during the American tour that the band would begin their relationship with Harley Davidson. The song does not suffer from this and ignites the audience as the clap along, as one would expect, to the anthem Take On The World, but there is only one way to end the afternoons proceedings. Tyrant is another of the early classics, one can wonder how come they don’t play it anymore. I always thought the live versions blow away the studio version, it has much more of a cohesive feel.
Evening Show 7:00 PM Saturday February 10, 1979 Kosei Nenkin Kaikan, Tokyo, Japan
Disc 1 (54:53) Opening, SE / Start, Exciter, Running Wild, The Ripper, Diamonds And Rust, Rock Forever, Beyond The Realms Of Death, The Green Manalishi (With The Two Pronged Crown), Delivering The Goods, White Heat Red Hot, Sinner, Evil Fantasies
Disc 2 (45:37) Victim Of Changes, Genocide, Starbreaker, Drum Solo, Starbreaker, Hell Bent For Leather, Take On The World, Tyrant, Announcement
Same day, same venue, same sound quality with the only main difference being the audience as the late show has the crowd ready to rock raising the feeling up to the max. I love the Peach tapes, he captures the pre show build up and sometimes you get to hear some strange but great moments. Case in point, the first music you hear on the first disc is not heavy metal but Barry Manilow’s Copacabana being played over the venue’s P.A. system, what a way to get the crowd warmed up ! It quickly fades and the audience gives the band a warm reception, their reward is Exciter.
As with the previous show the sound quality is simply perfect, clear and atmospheric and sound excellent at loud volumes. One can easily tell that Rob’s voice is in similar shape to the earlier performance but being the professional he is does not skip a beat. We are also treated to hearing the wonderful guitar interplay between KK and Glenn, at times they are locked in unison, other times they seem to weave around each other in elaborate metallic schemes. The song is linked almost non stop with Running Wild and The Ripper immediately follows that, there are many favorites of the early classic, for many fans it is this song. A metallic ode to Jack The Ripper, on this eve he is not haunting London but thanks to some lyrical improvisation he prowls the “Tokyo Town Streets”.
The crowd reciprocate with clapping, unlike the early show this crowd is behind the band and the band evoke dimly lit passageways and the aural smell of fear. A sign of a bands originality sometimes lies in how they cover another artists compositions, Priest had a couple early on, one the most popular was their take on the Joan Biaz classic Diamond and Rust. Anyone who has never heard the original cannot understand how the band brilliantly changed the song the meet their needs and make the song arguably appeal to a wider audience. I am guessing Glenn is providing some vocal help during the chorus, beefing it up since rob is of low voice.
Again the concert evolves into something larger with the beautiful Beyond The Realms Of Death, the lyric is one seen from two sides, one from the inside the other out and at the songs end the choice is made by the individual. The guitar playing is impeccable, the guitarist evoke much emotion from their instruments. I can remember the first time I saw the band play it live on the Ram It down tour and was blown away, the whole presentation topped off with the mirrored balled shooting points of light throughout the arena was very powerful. The other really good Priest cover song is of course the Peter Green song Green Manalishi originally recorded by Fleetwood Mac, the original was at a much slower pace but evoke a kind of creepy feeling. Priest change it around and turn it into a metal classic, Rob says the song will be released in Japan soon making me wonder if the Killing Machine record was not yet available in the Land Of The Rising Sun ?
The lyrics are tale of what ones mind can evoke on LSD as Green wrote it when he was hopelessly lost in the drugs grasp. Rob flirts with the audience who are clearly is to command and the band play the opening song on the new record, Delivering The Goods. The new material is very strong and the title sums it up perfectly, Rob does some great yelps as he is certainly delivering tonight. There are songs that get me every time, The Sinner is one of those songs. So powerful live, if you have seen early pictures of KK it is obvious he was / is heavily influenced by Jimi Hendrix as he used to wear colorful and flowing shirts and floppy hats and play the stratocaster.
While Glenn is a blitzkrieg lead player it is KK who takes it to the stratosphere and this song was his concert showcase, he does not disappoint and delivers the good. After the psychedelic intensity the band switch gears and play Evil Fantasies, the closing song from Killing Machine, the song is so different from the rest of the set list. Rob has said that at this point he was very influenced by Queen and the music they were producing, how they were not afraid to step outside the box as this song is a clear example that they were not afraid either. The song lumbers along with its stop and go riff, the crowd are very happy and clap along with the group and it turns almost anthemetic at times, Rob gives the crowd a big “arigato” at its conclusion.
The second disc starts of with Rob introducing a song from Sad Wings and we settle down for an incredible Victim Of Changes, the twin lead into sounds again very metallic and almost futuristic and again Glenn helps with the chorus. As I listen you can really appreciate Les Binks drumming, he is doing some really interesting things with his timing and throws in some fantastic fills and his time is perfect and the band is incredibly tight on this song.
During the gentle interlude the crowd claps as the notes float over their heads, this is where a soundboard cannot simply compete with a recording of this quality, you feel as though you are among the crowd and are drawn in completely. Genocide was considerable longer than the version found on the Unleashed In The East record and this evening performance clocks in at over 12 minutes as the band does a jamming improvisation in the middle, the crowd does not tire and get behind the band by clapping in time with the beat, I like the long versions and find them very effective.
Rob thanks the Tokyo audience and introduces Starbreaker, KK is there to play a spaced out guitar introduction before the band lays the song down, fat and heavy the song grinds down the listener and the song is a crowd favorite and not only do they clap along but help Rob sing the chorus and is a wonderful moment. I remember tracking down the import version of the Unleashed CD specifically to have a live version of this song as it is a favorite of mine from the brilliant Sin After Sin record.
It again features a Binks drum solo, this performance is slightly longer than the afternoon and showcases his obvious drumming skills and ultimately leads the band in the Starbreaker coda and end of the main set. The audience has been behind the boys all night, they want more and a demand loudly that the band play more, they are not disappointed as Priest levels the stage with speed metal in the form of Hell Bent For Leather, the early versions are compact like the studio cut and the long drawn out closer that it would become and is much more effective. I personally find Take On The World to be filler and not really into this song or United from the British Steel record, IMO they are cheesy.
Redemption comes in the form of Tyrant, Priest goes for the throat with this one, fast and aggressive, one would think that the crowd has been slayed by this song but no they are clapping wildly and in metal heaven as the band are locked in a tight unison and the band truly deliver the goods. Even with Rob’s voice at 75% the band prove why they are world class musicians and true legends of the metal genre, second only to Black Sabbath, incredible shows indeed.
The packaging is the same as the KISS Snake Attack Budokan title, a box set to house the four cd’s and an eight page booklet that has some great live shots of the band plus the master cassettes and ticket stubs. The set also features picture discs, Rob on disc 1, KK on 2, Glenn on 3, and Ian Hill And Les Binks on the fourth and the release is a numbered limited edition of 150 copies. Simply put these two shows feature incredible sound for audience recordings and stellar packaging, the 1979 Japanese tour is legendary among Priest fans for obvious reasons and this is a essential set for all metal / Priest fans.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)