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'98 LIVE MELTDOWN

     "We're recording a live album - maybe a double album - on the JUGULATOR world tour. Then we want to go into the studio and make some more music again. I think we can be very, very strong and make some great metal music for a few years to come yet."
- K.K. Downing, Goldmine Magazine, June 5, 1998

     "We're looking into the possibility of a live album, we’ll see. A lot of the stuff in the tour is stuff that’s already been recorded anyway. But then again, it doesn’t got Tim on it. We’ll have to wait and see about that. And then back into the studio. We’ve got a few ideas as well."
- Ian Hill, Prime-Choice, January 21, 1998

All tracks from '98 LIVE MELTDOWN were recorded on the '98 JUGULATOR world tour. These particular versions were selected as much for the audience participation as for the band's performance. The only edits are where we have blended the different audiences together between songs in order to recreate the atmosphere of a non-stop Priest concert, rather than subject everyone to continual fade-in and fade-outs from different shows. Be there with us - Enjoy and join in -

T H E  P R I E S T  I S  B A C K !
- '98 LIVE MELTDOWN liner note, 1998

BAND MEMBERS:


Judas Priest L-R:
K.K. Downing: Lead Guitars
Ripper Owens: Lead Vocals
Glenn Tipton: Lead Guitars
Scott Travis: Drums
Ian Hill: Bass Guitar

Management: Bill Curbishley
Personal Assistant/Co-ordination: Jayne Andrews

ALBUM:

The Hellion Electric Eye
Metal Gods Grinder
Rapid Fire Blood Stained
The Sentinel Touch Of Evil
Burn In Hell The Ripper
Bullet Train Beyond The Realms Of Death
Death Row Metal Meltdown
Night Crawler Abductors
Victim Of Changes Diamonds & Rust
Breaking The Law
The Green Manalishi (With The Two-Pronged Crown)
Painkiller
You've Got Another Thing Coming
 
Hell Bent For Leather Living After Midnight

  • Released September 29, 1998 by CMC International (US Cat. # 86261) and
    October 2, 1998 by Steamhammer/SPV (GERM Cat. # 1854)

Produced by Glenn Tipton, K.K. Downing and Sean Lynch
Engineer: Will Shapland
Recorded with the Manor Mobile and on ADAT digital recording equipment
Mixed at Silvermere Studios, Wisley, Surrey, England
Mastered at The Townhouse with Tim Burrell

Certification: RIAA Silver
Chart position: UK #74

SINGLES:

LIVE MELTDOWN SAMPLER

  • The Ripper/Blood Stained/Victim Of Changes/Burn In Hell (all tracks from '98 LIVE MELTDOWN) released in 1998 by CMC International (US Cat. # CMC DJ 87282 promo only)
     

ARTWORK:

Design by Mark Wilkinson
Photography by Ross Halfin/Idols, John McMurtrie, Babz Bell, George Chin and John Stone

 

'98 LIVE MELTDOWN is Mark Wilkinson's first album sleeve designed on a computer:

     "Fish wanted me to design the album and video sleeve for Kettle of Fish using the 3D computer illustration Mo Warden had produced for it. No problem...except that I knew very little of the page layout programs! Oh well, I knew a friend who did and he could help me, I reasoned.
     "When I got back home, I had a play around in Photoshop and supplied all the backgrounds using raw scans taken from some photos supplied by Fish. Three months ago I took delivery of a G3 AppleMac, having never touched one before, and already I'm a
veteran of two (count 'em) CD designs! KETTLE OF FISH and a Judas Priest live album: '98 LIVE MELTDOWN."
- Mark Wilkinson, The Masque

     "I do exactly the same with the computer as by hand; I still make airbrushes and so on. The most important function of the computer is the ‘undo’. Sometimes I undo 11 times or more. Another plus of the computer is that you can put things over each other, or you can easily add images. And, for instance when I make the cover for John Wesley, I cannot go to America each time when I create something or change something. With the computer, I just mail it, he mails or calls and says what I should change, or that it is all right, and then I continue the work and mail it again when it is finished. Also the paint doesn't have to dry. A computer is rather handy, especially when you have to work with a deadline.
     "On an LP-sleeve, you could paint rather a lot, but a CD-booklet is much smaller and you can’t work with a lot of details. I love working with details very much. I also like to work true to nature. My inspirer is Salvador Dali. By the way, it's always the small things that make or break it. At art college you are taught that the most important thing of a concept is the thing you probably would see as the most unimportant: the spaces between the figures."

- Mark Wilkinson, Fish Fans

THE FALL OF A METAL GOD:

1998 was a rough year for the relationship between Judas Priest and Rob Halford. The members of Priest remained quite angry and hurt over Rob's departure, and there had been an exchange of words between Rob and band members throughout the years in the press, though there was no personal communication between the members and Rob:

     "We really haven’t communicated since 1992 and some days, for the life in me, I can’t figure out why. After so many years we kept our distance. But they have a new singer now and a new album, maybe there is a good chance that we can sit down and have a good time like all those years we’ve been in Priest."
- Rob Halford, Naked Highway, 1998

Now the band was back in action with a new singer, when Rob struck a blow to the heavy metal community...

It started after Rob's Fight disbanded in late '95. Drummer Scott Travis returned to Priest for vocalist auditions and Rob found himself "Out In The Cold" - Judas Priest would not have him back:

     "Priest was always evolving. Can Rob Halford sing those tunes out there? NO!!! Listen here, I was auditioning Rob in 1969, I've heard him over the years, I saw his voice change, and, just trust me, he simply can't sing those tunes anymore! His voice was going down... have you heard him during the Painkiller tour?"
     "We are going forward, and we will push the boundaries. It's a different world, and it's a different band now! We don't have the same guitars, and we don't think Rob fits this band anymore! Rob is out of the way, and what he sings now is not metal. And the whole Fight thing...
And now, Rob keeps spitting all this fucking shit out on us..."
- K.K. Downing, The Sentinel, February 14, 1998

     "I don't think, with Priest, the fans would have accepted just another singer. We had to find Ripper, and it took us four years. And he's a better singer. He's the best singer Priest ever had, and we're not ashamed to be saying that."
- Glenn Tipton, Goldmine Magazine, June 5, 1998

     "...Rob was losing it a bit towards the end. In hindsight, he probably did everyone a favor when he left the band..."
- Ian Hill, Music America, 1998

     "...Tim slotted straight in, and he can handle all of what Rob did and more. He hasn’t flavored the band that much, if you know what I mean...
     "Whether Rob can’t do it or whether he’s not bothering to do it, I don’t know, but he’s not doing it, and I think that’s the point. The thing is, Rob is a bit of a legend. He’s been with the band and he’s been at the forefront of metal now for twenty years. If you’re gonna do the first album without him - and like, Tim is not going to come into the band and be a legend. He’s got a lot of work at it as well. That’s not to say that Tim is not as good of a vocalist as Rob, because he is. He surpasses Rob, especially what Rob is doing now. He’s as good as Rob was twenty years ago. That’s how good Ripper is, and he’s gonna get better as time goes on. And as time goes on, people will start to accept him as the face of Judas Priest. I mean, Rob was the frontman, wasn’t he? You got Ken and Glenn up there as well, but at the end of the day, if you’ve gotta pick one member out of Judas Priest, it was always going to be Rob. Tim’s gotta work at that. He’s a great vocalist and I’ve got every confidence in that happening. I think in time that the old Rob die-hards will turn around at the end of the day and say, 'Well, yeah, this guy is just as good, if not better'.
"
- Ian Hill, Prime-Choice, January 21, 1998

     "I did an interview with a radio station from Cleveland on the phone. After I got done, they played a song from Rob Halford's VOYEURS album. It really pissed me off, but I'm glad they did play it, because that album fuckin' bombed."
- Ripper Owens, Ohio Scene, 1998

It was a frustrating and confusing time for Rob, but he hooked up with a guitarist whom he met at the Foundations Forum a few years back named John Lowery (better known as John 5 in Marilyn Manson's band afterwards). Together, they formed a band that after a couple of incarnations became known as "Two". The music Rob and John created would retain a guitar edge, but it would not be the heavy metal Rob had built his legacy on. Keyboards, sequencers and electronic drums would play a vital role in the sound - a sound that was as much inventive as it was driving, and with Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails producing, a sound that was decisively industrial...


Rob Halford and John Lowery

The sound and approach of Two was quite a shock to long time fans of Rob Halford's career, but what came next was a blow no one expected would ever come from the Metal God, when at the  end of '97, Rob told then Metal Edge magazine editor Gerri Miller that "Metal is dead", and told others that he would never return to Priest:

     "Metal is dead and I am done with it."
- Rob Halford, Metal Edge, 1997

     "Nostalgia is a human necessity; it's affection. You establish yourself as something that you look back on as you move forward. You think of a moment in your life when you felt right and you identify with that moment. You want to keep that moment living
inside you emotionally. And the best way to do that is to have the thing happening in front of you on a stage or on a record.
Human beings are nostalgic creatures; we all behave that way. It's a comforting place to be: You feel okay there, you're not irrationally confused and panicky. People grow up and live in the same city forever; people stay in the same apartment forever;
people stay in the same job forever; we're creatures of habit. That's how I was for a portion of my life and it took me a while to realize that if I did that, I'm not going to go anywhere else. I wanted to go to other places. I wanted to have different experiences. And the way you can do that is to go from this room, open the door, and go into another room – it's so close... it's like you can't see the wood for the trees. When you're an artist, especially. It's very comforting to be successful. You've got money in the bank. Your music keeps selling. There's people coming to your shows... everything feels great, you get complacent."
     "I would never do a Judas Priest reunion. I'm not just saying that now and five years from now I'm gonna be on stage with Priest again. I value my personal creativity and my integrity more than a few dollars in the bank. It's never the same the second time around, especially when there's something more attached to it than the music. Reunions smack of big dollars, instead of people
feeling that they want to go out and play music together. That's not to dis some of these people who have gotten together: I love Fleetwood Mac. It's still to me, the same thing. There's something about that band and that music, that defies time, but doesn't make it cheesy. Some other bands with the bulging waistline, and the receding hair... let me get my old videos out. That's being bitter and cynical, and so be it, but that's just the way it is from my perspective."
- Rob Halford, NY Rock, March 1998

Rob would later recant his quote about  the state of heavy metal:

     "I think I didn't express myself quite clearly then. What I meant - and I pointed that out a little later - was that in the metal genre, big changes aren't possible. Classic metal has defined itself in the '70s and '80s and I didn't see any outstanding new bands. Look at the bands on the cover of your magazine: Metallica, Thin Lizzy, Running Wild, all bands that exist for many years. Of course metal isn't really dead, I'm not so stupid that I would really claim something like that, but I don't expect in the near future some mega-bands will appear. And I can't imagine that a young musician will create something really new out of the old influences which has the same musical meaning. Maybe I'm wrong and there is somewhere a sixteen-year-old new Randy Rhoads genius who proves me to be wrong. I hope so. I wish nothing more than to see the new Sabbath, Priest, Maiden or Metallica - a bunch of kids who blow everything away - very young bands who have the characteristics of classic metal in them."
- Rob Halford, Rock Hard magazine, April 2000

     "I tried to fudge my way out of that 'metal is dead' statement by saying, 'I didn't mean that really, what I meant was the metal where I came from, bands like Priest and stuff, there's no more bands like that', when in reality, there are bands of that ilk from Europe. I think that just went to prove my emotional state of mind at that time. I remember I was sitting on the bus with Gerri Miller. I was just so frustrated and not settled, and I made that ridiculous statement that metal is dead, which is a fucking stupid thing to do.
     "I've been confronted all over Europe by that statement, and I've just been making amends by saying that I was off my John Rocker
. It was a stupid thing to say, and you've got to be able to admit your mistakes, and that was a big mistake on my part.

     "Metal fans are extremely loyal, devoted people, and if you rub them up the wrong way, like I did, you've got to step up to the plate and put your hands up and go, 'I'm sorry.' "

- Rob Halford, Launch, August 23, 2000

     "I totally regret having made that statement. What a bloody stupid thing it was to say! At the time, it was a stupid, prima donna, petulant thing to do, I'll tell you what happened. I was on the bus, about to walk on stage and do a show in LA at the Palladium with Rammstein. I was with Gerri Miller from Metal Edge and she was pissing me off, she was getting me a bit irate. I was about to go on stage and she said, 'Can you do a quick interview?' So I said, 'Okay then'. I think, in all honesty, it was an off-the-cuff thing, you know? Again, borne out of frustration of 'Why don't I feel better about where I am?' So I said 'Metal's dead...' whatever, and then it's all over the place! I bet she couldn't wait to get home and get on the internet! It did a lot of damage, and I regret that because regardless of whether it was off-the-cuff or not, I have to be really careful about what I say. I've always been very open and honest with everything that I do. I don't conceal anything; what you see is what you get. I was honest enough to admit - as I've done now- that it was a stupid thing to say."
- Rob Halford

As if Rob had not shattered the hearts of many Defenders enough, more trouble was stirred up when Rob told MTV that he was gay. While it wasn't really news to most fans who had speculated as much long ago (the Village People biker outfits of the '80s and a press conference on MTV in '92 where Rob denounced rumors that he had aids following Freddie Mercury's 1991 aids death were pretty obvious clues in themselves), it did come across to the members of Priest as an attack against their new revival, bringing another controversy to have to deal with as well as the potential to to lose many fans, especially in America where they had just started up a comeback tour. Glenn and K.K. felt it was a secret that didn't need to be brought up at this particular time; even Rob himself had maintained silence for the several years after he had left the band of his own free choice:

     "Rob wasn't encourage to reveal his secret to the public. It's fair to say we were happy with Rob and with his image. We didn't want anything to happen that was gonna change that."
- K.K. Downing, VH1 BEHIND THE MUSIC, 2001

     "We supported Rob for 27 years. He quit the band in 1992."
- Glenn Tipton, VH1 BEHIND THE MUSIC, 2001

     "...And he only just recently made this statement. I think that answers the question."
- K.K. Downing, VH1 BEHIND THE MUSIC, 2001

     "There's no two ways about it, Rob's coming out was a cheap shot. We were in New York for some really important comeback shows and Rob was all over the press. It's a shame the way things went with him as he's totally denounced heavy metal... it's sad because he's left the fans behind."
- K.K. Downing, Total Guitar, 1998

But Rob felt now was the perfect time to get it all out in the open, not to cause trouble for Priest, but to meet the needs of a changing society:

     "I think that most people know that I've been a gay man all of my life, and that it's only been in recent times that it's an issue that I feel comfortable to address, and an issue that has been with me ever since recognizing my own sexuality.
     "It's something that I've been comfortable with forever, something that I feel has a moment, and this is the moment to discuss it and to go into the reasons, and the whys and the wherefores as to the statement, the so-called coming out phase.
     "A lot of homophobia still exists in the music world, in all kinds of music. I wouldn't say it's any more phobic in metal or rap or whatever this music is that I'm doing now, but thatıs just something that I think we all have to address in our own lives. If we have a problem with it, I think we should seek help and find out why we do have a problem with it.
     "I think it's difficult for everybody, you know, in making the decision to come forward and be who you are, based on peer pressure, especially if you're a teenager. That's where a lot of the anxiety begins, and so maybe people like myself and others that do step in front of a camera and let the world know, maybe it's of some help, where there's an individual that's been successful, that's been able to achieve dreams and visions and goals in life and not let the issue of sexuality be something to hold them back, so I think it's an important thing."
- Rob Halford, MTV News, February 5, 1998

     "It just so happened that the whole thing came out through interviews I was having in Europe. But I have since been talking
seriously about being a gay man. If the question had never been levied at me like it has at MTV, I would never have said it. But it happened in such a way where the message got out to as many people in the shortest amount of time. I’m kind of glad it happened that way."

- Rob Halford, Naked Highway, 1998

     "I think I was angry at myself. I thought I was sexually dysfunctional, that I didn't fit in because I was still the gay man in an exclusively straight rock world."
- Rob Halford, BANG YOUR HEAD, 2002


     "I really dwelled on it so long. What am I gonna gain? What am I gonna lose? I think it's true, when you become successful in the music world, you probably go more in the closet. You get under the rug in the closet because of the phobia that still exists in rock music. You could lose a record deal, a fan base. It's really difficult for any musician to come out.
     "Had I considered coming out five years ago, it would've been very difficult. But right now I'm experiencing the same emotions that my friends have told me they felt when they came out: this great clarity and this great peace. There have been no repercussions, no hate mail. I think people have had so many good times with my music that my coming-out is easier for them to accept. It's like, 'Well, look at the great music, look at the great shows - does it really matter?' "
- Rob Halford, The Advocate, May 12, 1998

     "If you’re straight, you can’t really perceive what a gay man goes through, but it’s important to get through the psychological aspect of this closeted environment and free yourself of a lot of personal pressure. It just sets you free, and is a wonderful thing to do. It was a very spontaneous moment, I didn’t put any forethought to it, it was just something that slipped out while I was doing an MTV interview. It took a lot of the pressure off of myself. As far as backlash… there’s been absolutely no fallout from it. It hasn’t affected my record sales, or my show attendance. For some people, it was the worst-kept secret, other people couldn’t care less. I think that people had to address their own phobic issues and realize that sexuality has nothing to do with the music."
- Rob Halford, Philadelphia City Paper, October 2000

     "I imagine that some fans, upon first hearing the news, must have thought, 'I've got all these records by this band I love, but I don't get along with gay people. Oh God, what do I do?'
     "If I felt it was too much of a risk or danger to the band I would not have done it. When speaking in the context of Priest, I always felt that these types of issues are private. When speaking as an individual, it's vital for gay people to come out so we can rid ourselves of the prison bars and take away the ammunition of the detractors. For all those years in Priest, I believed that if I came out, I would be utterly rejected. But now I feel  that assumption presents a misconception about the metal community. It's a myth.
- Rob Halford,
New York Daily News, July 13, 2004

     "It's a myth that I received any flak from the metal community over my decision to come out. I have, in fact, received numerous positive responses from fans, as well as e-mails from people who were going through much the same thing. It's horrible to keep something like that secret, and I felt I had to make it public. I discovered that I was gay when I was about nine or ten. I did go out with girls for a while, but it didn't last."
- Rob Halford, Eastbay Express, July 28, 2004

CELEBRATING THE FANS

     "Lights go down, dry ice plumes into the air already thick with anticipation. A sea of jaws clench as one, all eyes are glued to the stage which virtually seems a living entity. A truly majestic noise floods the PA... 'The Hellion' ...a sudden chill makes the hair on the back of our necks stand to attention - we are thrilled - why? Because it heralds the arrival of the finest heavy metal band ever to stalk this earth! 'Electric Eye' crashes in with an all-time classic riff, punctuated by thunderous percussive stabs - then we're off like a rocket. That immortal opening vocal line scythes through the air - "Up here in space, looking down on you...." Ripper Owens is screeching like a banshee and roaming the stage like a black panther - Another Priest show is underway, no turning back!
     "These shows have always been a celebration: firstly of metal music and secondly, as testament to the constantly evolving animal that is Judas Priest. The band has never been content to plough through the same furrow, preferring instead to forge onwards and upwards. The hugely successful 1998 JUGULATOR tour grouped classic excerpts from almost every incarnation of the band's repertoire. Hurled into the steaming cauldron of the Priest live set, all of this material melts together as one intoxicatingly metallic experience - only adding to the songs' natural intensity, is the frenzied reaction of the crowd and that all important vocal participation.
     "One of the principal goals with this album, besides delivering the ultimate, definitive Priest set, was to capture the remarkable kinship between band and fans. They draw energy from the band and vice versa. The excitement snowballs, achieving critical
mass - the chain cannot be broken! Close your eyes and you'd swear you were there... Were you are a part of any of these shows? Slide CD 1 into the machine and re-enter the grinder. Who knows - you may hear yourself, screaming for vengeance!"
- Jason Arnopp, KERRANG!, 1998

'98 LIVE MELTDOWN was an important album for the band to release. With Rob's shocking revelations, dismayed fans needed something to renew their hope in the mighty Priest; after all, it was Rob who left Judas Priest and it was Rob who seemed to have walked away from heavy metal. But Judas Priest were here to stay!

This live album would show the world that Judas Priest had indeed found a singer more than capable of handling the older material in a live setting as well as displaying the raw live power of the new songs, though it was a difficult task:

     "Ripper kills as a vocalist, there’s fuckin’ no two ways about it, and then live too. You know, people go, 'Oh yeah, he can do it in the studio', but then we toured the world and the guy can sing five nights in a row if he had to. That’s really incredible because a lot of guys can sing one night or they can sing in a studio, but you put ‘em on the road where you’re traveling and you’re not getting the proper rest and you’re in different venues and different weather situations and what not, and that’s really hard on singers more than anybody. And to sing Priest type material night after night and be able to hold up, I mean that’s really the test of a great singer. And he obviously held up. We did the live album as well..."
- Scott Travis, Rock Rage, March 3, 2001

     "Live, sometimes different songs can give you different problems; it just depends. Doing 'Painkiller' for an encore is not one of the easiest things to do when it's the twentieth song of the night and you have to come out every night and do that. But really, I had an easier time with it on the last leg of the American tour, after we recorded '98 LIVE. It was actually easier for me because I listened to that album and studied to see where I could do better and change things, so the last leg of the tour in America I sang a lot better, learning where to breathe and stuff, you know? I probably had more problems with 'Burn In Hell' than with any of the old stuff. I don't know why, maybe because a lot of the vocals were one after another and there was really no time to breathe."
- Ripper Owens, UK Rock Net

     "I think we'll go from strength to strength. Everyone knows now that Ripper can cut it live, and our fans seem genuinely happy we're still around. I'd like to think we'll be back up there at the same level we left it at with Painkiller. We're like a good wine, always getting better with age..."
- Glenn Tipton, Total Guitar, 1998

Ripper was comfortable as a now world-class lead singer and had a good interaction with the crowds. He even has fun with his nickname right before the song of his namesake, asking the audience, "What's my name?" and getting the reply, "Ripper". After the song, Owens was treated to the chant of, "Ripper, Ripper, Ripper...", to which he responds, "I think we need to play here more often!" Ripper Owens was already stepping out of the shadows of his idol, Rob Halford, and the fans were making it possible!

With LIVE MELTDOWN, Priest  also gave the fans their most definitive collection of songs in a high-energy package that also captured the reaction of the audience. It captured the celebration of a highly successful tour in a time when heavy metal was not in the forethought of the music industry:

     "We want to reconfirm that we're still around and will be for a long time. We want the fans to know that we haven't forgotten them and we don't want them to forget us."
- K.K. Downing, Goldmine Magazine, June 5, 1998

     "Every gig's been the same. The fans are welcoming us with open arms, and it's great."
- Glenn Tipton, Goldmine Magazine, June 5, 1998

     "I think the interesting thing about this tour is that we didn't really know who was going to show up. With Priest, you've got fans back from the late '70s and early '80s up through the mid-'90s. Really, it's been a nice mix. The big surprise is that there are so many people who have followed the band throughout the years, which I think is really cool."'
- Scott Travis, Goldmine Magazine, June 5, 1998

     "Another thing is the cross sections of the audiences we had. We had the older fans there who have been with us for a while but we also had the teenagers in the front going bonkers. That’s very, very gratifying. We think we must be on the right track if we are attracting the new and older people.
     "Priest is about entertaining people, that’s what we love to do, it’s not just about money! If money comes along then that’s an added bonus and we’ve been lucky there as well, we’ve had some great success. But there is nothing like being out on stage!"

- Ian Hill, Classic Rock Revisited, July 19, 2000

A long time away from the limelight, no longer on a major label, and changing attitudes in the music scene towards heavy metal found Priest playing mostly to smaller venues with a scaled-down stage set. But that only meant a more intimate setting could be enjoyed by both fans and the band:

     "On the last tour we were playing to a capacity smaller that we were on the Painkiller tour but it still felt like great success, mainly because of the reaction of the audiences. I think that’s probably the key to it. As long as you're pleasing people."
- Ian Hill, Classic Rock Revisited, July 19, 2000

     "Having Judas Priest play in smaller venues makes the concert more personal and gives you a change to see the band up close... Being a smaller stage, they effectively used the strobes and flashes and Ripper and Glenn worked the audience into a frenzy when they had the chance."
- Fan report, February 11, 1998

     "Our live show has definitely changed. We’re not going to kid ourselves - we aren’t playing massive arenas every night anymore, and in the mid eighties, that’s what we were doing. Some nights we may play to a thousand people and other nights we may play to twenty thousand (such as at a festival)... It usually ranges between those two points. I actually love the smaller gigs, and if you’ve never seen Priest in a smaller gig, you’ve actually never seen the band. In the eighties, the band was bigger than life. If you play in a bigger arena, you’ve got to exaggerate everything, so we did. Priest hasn’t really been about that, though. What Priest is about is the depth of the songs that we’ve got. The best place in the world to hear 'Victim Of Changes' is a small venue. Our material is really our strength. The production is just a bonus.
     "We probably give more to a smaller audience than we do to a larger one. I don’t know what it is really. It’s just that you’re right there with them, and I think we put out more energy."
- Glenn Tipton, KNAC, September 10, 2002

Another treat for the fans was the revival of two past songs:

"Rapid Fire" had been redone as a B-side ("Rapid Fire '98") on the "Bullet Train" single and was now available in a live version. With Ripper on vocals, the song had gained lyrics in the chorus:

Rapid Fire
Between the eyes
Rapid Fire
Terrifies
Rapid Fire
Before you die
Rapid fire!

And the bridge was sung in a higher register than on the BRITISH STEEL version, displaying Ripper's incredible abilities.

"Diamonds And Rust", a live favorite, was also revived, but as an acoustic/electric version. This version is emotionally charged and once again displays perhaps Ripper's most purest of high-note abilities, while keeping the mighty Priest fresh with the times.

And how about when Priest "slow it down" with a stunning version of "Beyond The Realms Of Death", and are surprised by the fan reaction:

     "I think that’s the first time I’ve seen bodysurfing on that song."
- Ripper Owens

Another fan favorite and trademark of Judas Priest is when the familiar sound of a revving motorbike fills the room - a tradition started by former lead vocalist Rob Halford in the late '70s when the band was backed by the Harley-Davidson motorcycle company to help reignite interest in their motorcycles. Well Harley-Davidson has done well since then and with a new man behind the handlebars, so too appeared a new product on two-wheels:

     "Tim will not enter the stage on a Harley Davidson, but on a self-made bike of some sort. He loves the Harley, but it has become too much corporate, so they are going for a self-made bike this time."
- High Voltage, October 28, 1997

'98 LIVE MELTDOWN truly captures a live magical moment for the 2nd Coming of Judas Priest and fans!


İ 2002-2003
Steel & Leather Productions, U.S.A.