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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Judas Priest

The Chosen Few

Review by Gary Hill

The concept of this compilation is intriguing. They let a bunch of rockers choose their favorite Judas Priest tracks. I’ve got to wonder if some choices were intentionally left out of the set, though. I mean, it seems strange that the pre-Columbia days are represented by only two tracks (and both of those the live versions – “The Ripper” and “Victim of Changes”) and the group’s break through disc (British Steel) has four tracks on the set. I suppose you ask enough people, you’ll get some that you want to use, and some you don’t. However you slice it, though, this is a cool set. And it’s extremely interesting to see what that various musicians had to say about the choices made. I’ve already reviewed all these songs in other reviews, so for the sake of consistency the track by tracks are taken from the previous write up – but the musician choosing each song is listed here.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Diamonds And Rust (1977) - chosen by Joe Elliot (Def Leppard)

This cover of the Joan Baez song is slower than the one found on Unleashed in The East. It comes in with more a classic rock, than a metal sound, with basically clean guitars. Halford's vocals on this are somewhat restrained, but still extremely powerful. The cut bumps it up a few notches as it carries on and is pretty darn potent. I've always liked this version a lot, but preferred the live one.x

Dissident Aggressor (1977) - chosen by Steve Vai

This has always seemed like one of the fastest and most aggressive jams Priest has ever done. A tension builds to start this, then Halford's scream heralds in the fury that makes up the main structure of the cut. The guitar soloing is furious. It drops to a slower segment before jumping back up to the earlier fury. This one is still a scorcher.

Exciter (1978)- chosen by Accept

This screamer is a frantic rocker. It never wavers and has an awesome musical texture. This has always been a personal favorite. This has one of the latest examples of the early Priest guitar sound.

Beyond The Realms Of Death (1978) - chosen by Lars Ulrich (Metallica)
A balladic verse segment makes up the early moments here. The chorus turns to quite a strong metal screaming segment. The song alternates between these modes in one of the best of this style track.
Delivering The Goods (1979) - chosen by Kerry King (Slayer)

This is a solid and gritty metal number. It's quite effective and features a great guitar solo break. I've always loved the latter verses on this one. It gains a lot of energy as it carries on.

The Green Manalishi (with the Two-Pronged Crown) (1979) - chosen by Randy Blythe (Lamb of God) & David Coverdale (Whitesnake)

Who would expect Judas Priest to cover Fleetwood Mac? Still, this one was from the psychedelic blues Peter Green era of that band. The original is slow and rather creepy. The Priest ramp up the volume and intensity, but keep the song pretty well intact otherwise. Halford's higher than the heavens stake on the outro vocal becomes a trademark of Priest, and the guitar solo on this one purely smokes. This one really becomes all Priest and a killer classic metal song at that.

The Ripper (1979) - chosen by Ozzy Osbourne
Although some of the charm of the studio version is lost in the live performance, particularly the vocals that seemed at times to lurk behind some hidden corner, this is still a strong and spooky performance as presented here.
Victim Of Changes (1979) - chosen by James Hetfield (Metallica)
One of the best cuts Priest have ever done, this live take is stronger even than the studio version. This is certainly old school metal at its finest. 
Breaking The Law (1980) - chosen by Lemmy (Motorhead)
One of a couple Priest songs that are so well known as to be considered almost part of the mass consciousness of the modern world. I've always found this one to be stronger than "Living After Midnight" and really like it quite a bit. If you haven't heard this one, you have probably been living in a cave for the last twenty or so years.
Rapid Fire (1980) - chosen by Vinnie Paul (Pantera & Hell Yeah)
This frantic number is definitely a winner. The drumming here really keeps the pace fast and furious and Halford's "rapid fire" delivery keeps up the tension. This song is well titled, that much is certain. The second segment is particularly furious, and I love how the guitar punctuates each "catch your breath" extended vocal line. 
Grinder (1980) - chosen by Zakk Wylde (Black Label Society)

In many ways this rocker is sort of a stripped down piece. It’s got a plodding texture and feels a bit like “Metal Gods.” I’ve never quite understood the lyrics – but that’s not unusual for a lot of Priest. It’s definitely a strong piece.

Living After Midnight (1980) - chosen by Alice Cooper & Geezer Butler (Black Sabbath)
Starting on drums, this rocker is another of the band's best known pieces. I am not crazy about it, but I'm probably biased after having rehearsed it hundreds of times in various cover bands. That kind of repetition can kill any song for you.
Screaming For Vengeance (1982) - chosen by Slash (Guns n Roses)

This is, appropriately, a screamer. It is frantic, angry and a standout cut.

You ve Got Another Thing Coming (1982) - chosen by Klaus Meine (Scorpions) & Corey Taylor (Slipknot)
I have always felt that this cut is one of the most empowering and strongest from this period in Priest's history. It still holds up every bit as well, even years down the road. 
The Sentinel (1984) - chosen by Chris Jericho
Feeling hard-edged and a bit dark, this cruncher plods along at times, but it is a strong one nonetheless.
Turbo Lover (1986) - chosen by Jonathan Davis (Korn)

The Turbo album is arguably the weakest disc in the Priest catalog. In the view of this reviewer only the strong vocal performance makes it listenable. This cut is actually one of the strongest from that disc. With that mind, the comparison to the rest of the material here is a dramatic contrast.

Painkiller (1990) - chosen by Joe Satriani
With drums bringing this one in, it is one of the most frantic and hard edged tracks the band has ever done. This one is a standout, even on as massive a collection as this is.
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