“Screaming For Vengeance” 30th Anniversary Edition Resurrects Judas Priest US Festival Concert

It’s hard for me to believe that 30 years have passed since I was first exposed to “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’,” the video/lead single for Judas Priest’s best-selling Screaming For Vengeance album. Admittedly, I didn’t like them the first three of four times I saw the video. Having been exposed to a steady stream of pop, rock and some hard rock through the then year-old MTV, the leather and studs-clad heavy metal hellions caught me off-guard. I was initially turned off by these aggressive, seemingly thuggish characters with their wailing guitars, screams, barrage of lasers and their singer’s ability to blow the head off a nearby sound inspector.

Then something clicked, and I got what these bombastic metalheads were about — this was music as personal exorcism. The testosterone kicked in, and I became completely enamored with the band. Further videos like “Hot Rockin'” and “Heading Out To The Highway” spoke to me, and the music empowered me with energy and the feeling that I could take on the world. My first Priest album was actually Point Of Entry, the bluesier, less heavy release between British Steel and Screaming. It was a melodic album that offered a good transition to its more balls-out and futuristic successor. When I got Point for Christmas 1982, it did not leave my turntable for a month. When I got Screaming for my birthday in early 1983, it occupied it for six weeks. Within a year, I had acquired the entire Priest catalog, which then encompassed 10 studio albums, a live release and two early hits packages. Three decades later, I’m still a major Priest fan. I even had the honor of being asked to contribute the liner notes for their Metalogy box set in 2004.

The forthcoming Screaming For Vengeance 30th anniversary edition features the same songs as the 2001 reissue, including the bonus ballad “Prisoner Of Your Eyes,” along with four more live cuts recorded in 1982. And the best part is the bonus DVD, which includes their 1983 US Festival appearance, which was broadcast as part of a Showtime special on the legendary festival (one could call it the Woodstock of the Eighties) and has never been seen since. In fact, for years Triumph was the only band that held on to the rights to their US Festival footage, but in recent years other groups have been releasing their own US Festival DVDs. It’s great that Priest has finally revived theirs.

A color version of the Ross Halfin photo that appears inside the Screaming For Vengeance vinyl release.

Priest played on the Heavy Metal Day of the second US Festival, which also included Triumph, Quiet Riot, Scorpions, Mötley Crüe, Ozzy Osbourne and headliners Van Halen, in San Bernadino, CA on May 29, 1983. This particular day reportedly set a single-day concert attendance record for the U.S. with an estimated 375,000 people attending. I can’t remember the last time an American concert pulled in that many people. Bands had to be flown in by helicopter to perform, and the blazing sun and hot Santa Ana winds made it feel like an oven. For Priest, it was far worse since they all dressed up in leather. They certainly worked hard that afternoon. What’s funny to me is that for years I went to the annual Renaissance Faire held on the same site (The Glen Helen Pavilion) and did not even think about the musical history that had taken place there.

Thirty years on, Screaming For Vengeance, the album that opened up the floodgates for mainstream metal in 1982, still sounds ahead of its time in some places, notably “The Hellion/Electric Eye,” which in my not-so-humble opinion is the most perfect metal song ever written. The slick production and ominous, robotic processing of Rob Halford’s vocals imbue it with the maniacal edge it needs for its Orwellian depiction of a sentient spy satellite. Throughout the album, Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing’s dueling guitars are a match made in metal heaven, while bassist Ian Hill and drummer Dave Holland sound the most revved up they had ever been. And they followed this classic album up with the phenomenal Defenders Of The Faith.

2 Responses

  1. Aaron

    Sweet! The inclusion of the US Festival DVD will tip the balance for me and make up for the lame bonus tracks from the original round of reissues. I will be picking this up. Screaming!

  2. northierthanthou

    I absolutely loved this album. I think “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin'” was the first Priest song I ever noticed. I used to crank the radio so high whenever it came on the radio.


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