Back in the days when I proudly sported a mullet and cruised the streets of the small Canadian town I grew up in decked out in a denim jacket with a Def Leppard patch on the back there were two British bands that, even above the mighty DL, rocked my world – Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. While Iron Maiden remained healthy throughout the nineties and are still going to this very day, Judas Priest had their heyday in the early to mid 1980s. The new Judas Priest – Electric Eye DVD from BMG captures the band at the height of the popularity and brings it all to you just in time for the upcoming reunion tour which sees original vocalist Rob Halford reuniting with the band to tour the world once more in 2004.
Electric Eye compiles almost all of the promotional videos that Halford made with the band during his original tenure until he was replaced when they split up by Ripper Owens. It also includes an entire concert from the bands 1986 Fuel For Life tour stop in Dallas, Texas as well as some rarely seen early television appearances from the bands infancy back when they first started out in Birmingham, England.
The promotional videos included on the DVD are: Living After Midnight, Breaking The Law, Don't Go, Heading Out To The Highway, Hot Rockin', You've Got Another Thing Comin', Freewheel Burning, Love Bites, Locked In, Turbo Lover, Johnny B. Goode, Painkiller and A Touch Of Evil.
Other than Parental Guidance, all the Halford era promotional clips are here. Why Parental Guidance wasn't included, I don't know, because it's absence prevents this release from being the definitive Judas Priest DVD that it should have been, but that issue aside, I was really happy with the selection of material included. None of the Ripper Owens songs are included, but maybe that's for the best as the two albums that the band made with him at the front pale in comparison to even the weakest of the Halford-era catalogue entries.
Despite some very obvious innuendos in quite a few of the videos and a couple of cringe inducing eighties moments (Halford's face superimposed overtop of the on the monitor of a video game where a kid is playing Pole Position is priceless, but for all the wrong reasons!) these videos are all a lot of fun, especially if you have an affinity for sweaty, weird looking men with Flying Vs and silly leather outfits.
Songs performed on the Priest… Live! concert are: Out In The Cold, Locked In, Heading Out To The Highway, Breaking The Law, Love Bites, Some Heads Are Gonna Roll, The Sentinel, Private Property, Desert Plains, Rock You All Around The World, Hellion/Electric Eye, Turbo Lover, Freewheel Burning, The Green Manalishi (With The Two Pronged Crown), Parental Guidance, Living After Midnight, You've Got Another Thing Coming, Hell Bent For Leather, and Metal Gods.
The performance included here is rock solid (pun intended) as the band rip through a full set from start to finish, playing all of their popular hits and a few more obscure gems as well. It's a well rounded show that captures them at the height of their popularity.
Sure, some of the onstage hijinks here haven't aged quite as well as some of the music has (ok, not all the music has aged that well either, but still…) but it doesn't matter. A few of the songs from this set sound better and heavier live than they do on their studio releases and the energy level is high from start to finish. If this is anything like what we're going to get on the reunion (which this whole package is an obvious primer for), then we've got good things to look forward to.
Finally, there are six vintage BBC television appearances rounding out the collection. Taken from the Old Grey Whistle Test show are Rocka Rolla and Dreamer Deceiver/Deceiver, performed on April 24, 1975. This is Judas Priest before they decided that they should dress like rejects from a Mad Max film and it's more than just a little amusing to see them looking like, well, dirty hippies in these two songs. After that we're hit with Take On The World and Evening Star, two early tracks taken from two separate BBC broadcasts of Top Of The Pops from 1979. And last but not least, Living After Midnight and United are shown, both from two more separate Top Of The Pops performances from 1980. Even if most of these video clips show the band apparently lip-synching, it's still really nice to see this rare material on the DVD.
Everything on the disc was shot fullframe and that's how it's presented here. Compression artifacts aren't really an issue though there does appear to be a bit of print damage in a few spots, particularly during some of the earlier material from the late seventies/early eighties. The new material fairs a bit better. Even taking the mild print damage into account though, this is a pretty decent looking presentation and there isn't a whole lot worth complaining about.
The promotional videos and the concert are remixed in solid Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks while the BBC performances are in Dolby Digital Stereo. Overall, despite limited use of the surround channels, all three portions of the disc are mixed well with some solid bass response especially noticeable during the concert portion. There is no audible hiss or distortion and overall, this is a very clean and pleasant sounding recording.
There aren't any extra features on the disc at all. It would have been nice to have found some interviews of photo galleries included, but nope. Given the fact that there are 38 songs performed on the disc, there may not have been a ton of space for supplements, but it's still a little disappointing that all that's here besides the feature material are some brief liner notes by Halford (which is essentially him talking about how great they are) that has some fancy pictures of the band that look to be captures from the videos on the disc.
If you're a Judas Priest fan, than Judas Priest – Electric Eye is an absolute must own and with such a low M.S.R.P. slapped on this bad boy, you'd be silly not to slap on your studded leather suits and your mirrored shades and rock like there's no tomorrow. Highly recommended!
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.