Metal Works '73-'93
Although the double-disc Metal Works '73-'93 is an intoxicating listen, it isn't quite the definitive Judas Priest retrospective it could have been. Six of the band's 11 U.K. chart singles aren't here, and while "Johnny B. Goode" probably won't be missed, Hell Bent for Leather's "Take on the World" and "Evening Star," British Steel's "United," and Point of Entry's "Don't Go" and "Hot Rockin'" ought to have been included, especially since they were released during the band's influential prime. One could also argue for more material from the Stained Class era and less from the weaker mid- to late-'80s albums. Plus, the songs aren't arranged in chronological order, which makes it difficult to piece together the band's evolution and (sometimes trend-following) stylistic shifts. But quibbles aside, the collection makes a strong case for Judas Priest's versatility, drawing from nearly all of their albums' material, encompassing dark, driving riff rockers, melodic heavy metal, radio-ready commercial hard rock, the occasional ballad, and lyrics ranging from street-tough aggression and party anthems to sci-fi/fantasy themes and hints at Satanic posturing. The band's musicianship shines throughout; Priest's tightly controlled style was played with a sense of groove that allowed the music to breathe and kept it from sounding too tight-assed. In between the lesser-known tracks, which are often impressive, comes one metal classic after another: "Victim of Changes," "Living After Midnight," "Breaking the Law," "Hell Bent for Leather," "You've Got Another Thing Comin'," "Screaming for Vengeance," and more. Even if it isn't quite a definitive portrait of the band, it is an enjoyable one; many necessary items are here, and it rocks hard from start to finish.