By Bill Adams
Can history really repeat itself even if the events are well aware they’re unfolding the same way the second time? One almost has to wonder if the members of Judas Priest wondered the same thing when they began working on the deluxe edition, CD/DVD reissue of Screaming For Vengeance. Priest has, after all, seen a watershed renewal of interest in their work when they reissued British Steel in 2010; that release got the band back on the road to support the release and saw them dusting off classic sets and presentations, and the whole thing was spectacularly received. Fans responded well to the British Steel re-tour, so the question of how they’d do with an even bigger album became valid. British Steel had been a classic album and, when it was originally released in 1980, it got Judas Priest established in North America – but the real breakthrough came with Screaming For Vengeance in 1982. That was the album which made the band intercontinental stars back when, so could it be warmly received a second time – as British Steel had been?
In listening to the reissue of Screaming For Vengeance, it suddenly becomes clear that, as “of its time” the production applied to the record was (the effects on “Electric Eye” – all the clanking reverb and robotic imagery – and the glammy metal sheen of “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” are good examples), the record is the “step up” made by a band who knew they had the world’s attention, and continues to command respect thirty years later both for that and for its song craft. Tracks like the still skeevy and dirty “Pain And Pleasure,” the title track and “Devil’s Child” all still glow white hot with the excitement of the time and the ambition that the band was clearly wanting to express after the success of British Steel, while the tastefully retouched presentations of songs like “Riding On The Wind,” “Bloodstone” and “(Take These) Chains” see the songs a greater amount of interest in the album’s runtime. On those songs too, Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing‘s guitars have an all-new bite with the re-touched effects attached to them, while the remastering also helps to amplify the nuance of Rob Halford‘s vocal performances and really helps to show off that vaunted, multi-octive vocal range. The result is a carefully tuned, overhauled machine every bit the follow-up to the remastered British Steel of 2010, just as the original release was to British Steel‘s original explosion in the early eighties but, to really seal the deal, Legacy has appended a set of five live cuts of the album’s songs as well as “Prisoner Of Your Eyes” – a B-side previously left off the album.
The extra songs included on the reissue of Screaming For Vengeance would likely have been enough for most fans but, in order to guarantee that this set would live up to or exceed the re-issue of British Steel, Legacy has also appended a second DVD disc of Judas Priest’s performance at the US Festival which happened on May 29, 1983 in San Bernardino, CA. While it’s unlikely that the US Festival will ever be remembered as brightly as Woodstock was, Judas Priest’s performance does have the distinction of being one of the most memorable sets of the fest; standing head and shoulders above performances by The Clash, Ozzy Osbourne and Van Halen. To this day, viewers won’t be able to stop themselves from watching, slack-jawed, as Rob Halford strides out on stage with “Electric Eye” already begun to a wall of very loud, excited fans. He looks like the king of all that he surveys here, and the stage – with its enormous drum riser and walls of Marshall stacks – is the perfect portrait of Eighties rock opulence and excess at its most pristine; it is a sight to behold, even now. It gets better too, because as the band screams its way through tracks from both British Steel and Screaming For Vengeance (with cursory glances to Sad Wings Of Destiny), Judas Priest proves their mettle by making the show memorable both within the context of their own history and that of the festival itself. The performances of songs including “Breaking The Law,” “Living After Midnight,” “Screaming For Vengeance” and “Hell Bent For Leather” are essential moments that every fan needs to see, without question.
All of that said, of course this reissue of Screaming For Vengeance holds up to the standard set by the re-release of British Steel in 2010 – this set captures the spirit and excitement of the time perfectly and does indeed serve history as its predecessor did. If Priest decides to come out of retirement for another world tour in support of the reissue, fans can expect that – as is the case with this reissue – it will be bigger and better than its predecessor as well.
Bill Adams is also the editor-in-chief of groundcontrolmag.com