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Classic Albums DVD: Judas Priest - British Steel

By David Calvert

(Webmaster's Note: I received my copy of this DVD more than a week ago. Unfortunately, the producer sent me a copy that did not have the proper region encdoing, so I was unable to view the DVD. I am hoping to get a replacement copy ASAP. I want to thank David for submitting this great review, since I am unable to write one. -Devin)

I thought some of you would like to read some details on the Classic Albums video featuring Judas Priest.

For the benefit of people who have not heard anything about the Classic Album series. This is what it's all about.

"Classic Albums" is a series that has been previously broadcast on British Television. Previous Classic Album shows have included profiles on albums such as Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours", Meatloaf's "Bat Out of Hell" and U2's "The Joshua Tree"

The idea of the programme is to give the viewer an in-depth idea as to the story, trials, tribulations and technical background of how the album was recorded and produced. They do this by asking the key personnel - such as original band members, producers and engineers to go back in the studio and talk about the album. Each song is discussed in detail, and with the use of the actual master tapes, you can hear for yourself how each track was actually laid down.

In this instance, the films producers have featured one of Priest's most famous albums - "British Steel". The programme contains brand new interviews with Tipton, Downing, Hill and Halford, and the album's producer - Tom Allom.

What we have here is a fascinating insight as to how the album was recorded. I'm not going to mention everything that was spoken about, but the parts which featured the making of "Metal Gods" and "Rapid Fire" were particularly interesting.

In the "Metal Gods" section, Allom, Halford and Tipton speak fondly on how the sound effects were created. The opening echoy effect of the song was created from a recording of a door slamming and the marching sequence was created by Allom & Halford banging trays of cutlery on the kitchen table - metal or what?!!!. The scenes of a beaming Halford pretending to bang the said cutlery in time to the music (whilst saying in a strong brummie accent; "can you hear it now?"), is particularly fun.

The "Rapid Fire" section concentrated on the lyrical content of the song. As we all know, this song contains some of the band's best lyrics ever written, and Halford explains how he wanted to deliver the lyrics almost in a Shakespearean actor fashion.

Furthermore, there is a brief moment when Halford & Hill (interviewed separately) discuss Halford's departure. Both are extremely diplomatic in their answers. Hill even admits that he had "missed" Halford. Die-hard Halford fans should not read anything into this. Reading between the lines, there was no indication of a reunion - although we all know, it will happen - one day.

I have only seen the DVD version, which gives you bonus sections such as the tongue and cheek videos of "Living After Midnight" & "Breaking The Law", an interview with Scott Travis and some other stories, which are quite interesting.

The documentary also shows some old footage of Priest performing live on TV and at Memphis, but there is no new unseen footage which is a bit of a disappointment. But quite frankly, the rest of the programme is so good it makes up for this small omission.

In summary, this is absolutely ESSENTIAL viewing for all fans of the Priest. All the band members come over very well and it is an intelligently produced story of an album that not only broke Priest into the big-time, but an album that changed the face of heavy metal. Fantastic stuff!

Rating: 10/10