JUDAS PRIEST – Electric Eye

JUDAS PRIEST - Electric Eye


Recording Label: Sony
Release date: November 24, 2003

Overall Rating: A

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One of my favorite childhood memories, especially around holidays when everyone in our family would get together, was settling down in the living room towards the end of the evening and rolling old film reels of home movies. Somehow, differences or strife that may have occurred over time didn’t seem all that important when the rhythmic “click click click” of the 8mm film projector would cast images of the past on our old, portable, retractable movie screen. For a couple hours on those given occasions, we’d recall unforgettable memories, laugh a little at ourselves and at our naïve-ness, and come to realize that nothing was more important to each of us than each of us. Over time, individual personalities and directions changed, but at the end of those couple hours, the family vibe was always measurably stronger and conciliatory than at any other juncture.

Judas Priest has assembled a magnificent “family movie” compilation of their own in the form of their newly released Electric Eye DVD. And what better way to celebrate the reunion of the Judas Priest family after a schism lasting over a decade than to provide the worldwide Heavy Metal fan base with a virtual video scrapbook, covering the band’s entry into the public eye in 1975 to its last work with the current lineup as shown via the Painkiller promotional videos.

As we all know, Judas Priest was largely responsible for developing the sound that was later coined into the term Heavy Metal at a time when the music industry was hungry for a fresh concept to latch onto – this latest gift to the Metal public during the advent of the rebirth of the Metal Gods comes during a time when the music industry again finds itself at a crossroads…the current state of Nu-Metal has become stale…the industry is secretly begging for a new beginning…an excuse to abandon the status quo; a direction capable of reinventing itself and worthy of carrying the microphone, if you will. Is there a band better suited to fill this gap, set the trend, and reinvent the music industry wheel than the original Defenders of the Heavy Metal Faith? Yes, the Judas Priest family is once again United, and the time is nigh to gear up for what is to come by revisiting and musing with that which was so successful and enjoyable in the past…

The Electric Eye DVD contains 3 entertainment sections:
1). BBC Television Performances from 1975 (“Rocka Rolla” and “Dreamer Deceiver/Deceiver”) to 1979 (“Take on the World” and “Evening Star”) to 1980 (“Living After Midnight” and “United”).
2). All of the band’s promotional videos beginning with “Living After Midnight” from British Steel to “A Touch of Evil” from Painkiller.
3). The Priest…Live! concert from Dallas, Texas, USA filmed in 1986.

Watching the metamorphosis of the band from that first unpolished rendition of “Rocka Rolla” in 1975 on BBC to the precision-sharp performance displayed throughout the Priest…Live! concert, and likewise on the Painkiller promotional videos (“Painkiller” and “A Touch of Evil”), affords not only a serendipitous jaunt down memory lane, it also provides for a solid history lesson to the Heavy Metal viewer. Like any “family movie” compilation, the images provoke a sense of pride (e.g., seeing an enthusiastic, sold out arena going crazy for the better part of 2 hours during the Fuel for Life tour) and, at times, sheepish embarrassment (e.g., some funky hairdos in early years, and seeing Rob Halford lip sync the lyrics during BBC Top of the Pops segments in 1979 and 1980). Mostly, though, the video clips entertainingly show the development of an immensely talented and classy band that has managed to stick to their guns, weather and create the trends, and produce and promulgate some of the best Heavy Metal the world has ever known!

Highlights and Thoughts on the BBC Television Performances…
The 1975 BBC Performances on the Old Grey Whistle Test were not only great, they are the single biggest highlight of the DVD to me. The band’s performances were curiously very “matter of fact” and serious, and the sound was perfectly unadulterated, thick, and heavy. Halford demonstrated at this early juncture in 1975 that no vocal challenge would be sidestepped, and that no note was too high for him to reach with clarity…even on live television! Also, a nice surprise was the emphasis on Ian Hill’s bass guitar work. Both “Rocka Rolla” and “Dreamer Deceiver/Deceiver” are noticeably paced by Hill’s bass grooves.

The Top of the Pops segments introduced the “new” leather and chains “look” for the band with “Take on the World,” “Evening Star,” “Living After Midnight,” and “United.” It’s pretty clear that the band was a bit out of their element and had to sync their performances to album renditions vs. playing live, but these appearances were probably fairly welcome “breaks” at the time, and offered exposure to the band that had not been available in the past…hence worthy inclusion in this compilation.

Highlights and Thoughts on the Band’s Promotional Videos…
Judas Priest had the foresight to realize that putting together videos of songs they wished to promote was going to be an important step towards obtaining industry and fan recognition. The first Judas Priest videos were from the British Steel album: “Living After Midnight” and “Breaking the Law.” Considering there weren’t very many heavy rock precedents for promotional videos at the time, and MTV wasn’t even launched yet, the band and the video producers did an admirable job with these two songs. In particular, the story line surrounding “Breaking the Law” is both relevant and slightly humorous – for those who may not be familiar with this video, its plot has the band raiding a bank, Halford bending the steel safekeeping bars with his bare hands, and the band stealing and escaping with a British Steel gold record.

The other videos include: “Don’t Go,” “Heading Out to the Highway,” and “Hot Rockin’” from Point of Entry, “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’” from Screaming For Vengeance, “Freewheel Burning” and “Love Bites” from Defenders of the Faith, “Locked In” and “Turbo Lover” from Turbo, “Johnny B. Goode” from Ram It Down, and “Painkiller” and “A Touch of Evil” from Painkiller.

I found it particularly enjoyable to see how the video production process matured between 1980 and the early 90’s. Essentially, videos started out with a “no frills” approach, as evidenced by the band simply filming a mock performance on stage for the “Living After Midnight” video, only to blossom into complex conceptual interpretations of their musical style with multiple camera angles, coloration, video overlays, and actors as shown in “A Touch of Evil.” As is true with their music, Judas Priest was open to evolving and using available industry trends to their advantage when developing their visual presentation styles.

Highlights and Thoughts on Priest…Live!…
In the history of Rock ‘n’ Roll, not just Heavy Metal, there have been few concerts that can even compare to Judas Priest’s Fuel for Life tour when it comes to the stage set, the show in general, and the sound. To their following’s admiration, Judas Priest adheres to the philosophy that if concert-goers just want to hear the band play, they can stay at home and listen to their albums – so the band has always paired a spectacular show with their musical performance. The Fuel for Life tour revved on all cylinders from start to finish (pun intended) and encapsulated everything that has ever been great about Heavy Metal in their 19-song set.

For the Heavy Metal veterans who were able to attend this show, memories of the turbo engine stage set coming to life at the beginning of “Electric Eye”, Halford’s Harley Davidson entrance to kick off an encore, and, of course, flawless musicianship will have you foaming at the mouth in anticipation of what will surely be forthcoming from the band as a result of their reunification. For those Metal fans less seasoned, watching the Fuel for Life show will demonstrate a Heavy Metal band at their peak…Delivering the Goods in a way that few bands have ever been able to accomplish…helping one’s understanding of why so many people in the industry are completely jazzed about the prospects of what impact Judas Priest will have on Heavy Metal this time around.

An 18th/19th Century British Statesman named Benjamin Disraeli originally made the quote, “Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it.” In the case of Judas Priest’s Electric Eye DVD, our Heavy Metal history lesson has graciously been provided for the taking. So take it! It’s more than worth it! Unlike Disraeli’s quote, let’s hope the Metal Gods pending impact on musical history DOES indeed repeat itself for years to come…


  • Dan Skiba

    Dan is a former partner at Metal Express Radio, and also served as a reviewer, photographer and interviewer on occasions. Based out of Indianapolis, USA he was first turned on to Hard Rock music in the mid-1970s when he purchased Deep Purple's Machine Head as his first album. He was immediately enthralled with the powerful guitar sound and pronounced drumbeat, and had to get more! His collection quickly expanded to include as many of Heavy Rock bands of the time that he could get his hands on, such as Ted Nugent, Judas Priest, and Black Sabbath, to name just a few.

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