UNLEASHED IN THE EAST
LIVE IN JAPAN
"Live LPs are like an ace card to play really - you have to know exactly
when to release them or you can put one out and it'll do absolutely nothing
for you. It was definitely a good time to have Unleashed, though, because
people who had seen us live finally had the opportunity to experience the
whole thing on record. I think they were waiting for it and it just opened
up whole new areas for us."
- Rob Halford, Heavy Duty official biography, 1984
Management: Jim Dawson; Mike and Jim Dolan, Arnakata Management, Inc.
For the Japanese Epic/Sony release, the album was titled Priest In The East and included a 4-song bonus EP from the same shows (these 4 songs were finally added to the UK/US THE RE-MASTERS series as bonus tracks ):
When the LP was initially released to the UK, it was given the title Unleashed In The East, and it too had a bonus EP that featured three songs from the same shows:
A 15th track from the shows surfaced in 1980 as a B-side to the Living After
Midnight 12" maxi-single by CBS Records, Inc. (UK Cat. # 8379)
"Beyond The Realms Of Death" was released again in 1981 as a B-side to the Rock
Forever 12" maxi-single
Two additional songs performed at the Tokyo shows ("White Heat, Red Hot" and "Take On The World") have never been released apart from bootlegs.
Produced by Tom Allom and Judas Priest
Certification: RIAA Platinum November 10, 1989
Cover Design: Roslav Szaybo
Just as the recording itself has been accused of being made in a studio rather than truly live, so too has the cover art, but unlike the audio portion, the accusation is true concerning the artwork. Well-known and long-time Priest photographer Fin Costello was given the task of shooting the promo photos for the covers. At the time, Les Binks was no longer in the band, so you will notice the shots were staged such that Rob is always in front of the kit so the empty throne can't be seen!
As the band made their second trek to Japan, the mobile recording units were out to capture the two nights in Tokyo on tape: February 10 at Koseinenkin Hall and February 15 at Nakano Sunplaza Hall. To keep things simple and raw, everything was captured live and mixed quickly:
CBS/Sony Records wanted to release a live recording of the Japan tour to give to the Far East fans as a souvenir, so members of the band spent several weeks at Ringo Starr's Startling Studios (set up inside John Lennon's former home at Tittenhurst Park in Ascot, England) mixing the recordings made in Tokyo earlier in the year. Neil Kernon (Producer and/or Engineer on albums by Queensr˙che, Dokken, Nevermore, Cannibal Corpse and many others) was brought in to engineer the live recordings into an album. Neil had started fresh out of high school working for Essex Music in charge of sheet music and songbook production. It was here that he was encouraged by non other than original Priest producer Rodger Bain to apply for a job at Trident Studios, based to his musical interests and background. Neil eventually did get a job at Trident - as a teaboy, but over the next four years, he progressed to engineer working on albums by such greats as Queen, David Bowie and Elton John along the way! After branching out from Trident Studios, Neil began working for artists such as Yes and the Sex Pistols directly and in various studios until he wound up working for Ringo Starr's Startling Studios as Chief Producer/Engineer. It was at this time that Judas Priest rolled through with their raw mix of the Japan tour... Afterwards, Neil signed to Hit And Run Music as a producer, where he handled pop acts such as Hall And Oates. While he reached multi-platinum success, his heart was still in guitar-driven heavier music, so he returned to the sounds he loved to work with and eventually formed his own company, Auslander.
"Colonel" Tom Allom had engineered the first four Black Sabbath albums and was working for Arnakata Management at the time. With Kernon onboard to engineer the album, Allom was asked to be the producer because of his heavy metal experience:
Upon hearing the quality of the final mixes, the band were so pleased that they decided to release the album worldwide and give Japan a different title and a bonus EP as their souvenir.
Hitting shelves in September, Unleashed In The East would go on to be certified Platinum (one of five albums in their catalog to have done so) and hailed as one of the greatest live heavy metal album of all time. But not everyone is convinced it's actually a live album at all...
During the recorded Tokyo shows, Rob had been suffering from partial laryngitis, therefore his vocals weren't up to the standard of their usual shows. So during the mixing session at Ringo's place, a small party of people were in attendance and at one point, Rob was seen out on the patio wearing a set of headphones and singing his vocal lines into a microphone. Word leaked out about the vocals being redone and the rumors grew to the point where it was being reported that all the instruments were redone and the audience was a canned Japanese recording dubbed in. While the rumors were unfounded, it unfortunately prompting critics to call the album 'Unleashed In The Studio' and to this day, many fans are confused about the album's integrity. A rare bootleg of the February 15 show does a lot to prove the authenticity of the performance (Rob's voice only needed minimal repairs and the audience really did have that "canned Japanese" sound) and Priest's guitarists have confirmed that the band's musical parts are legitimately 100% live:
Of course, anyone who has attended a live Priest show (even back in the late '70s) knows the band is perfectly able to pull it off! The truth is, the only studio work besides Rob's vocal overdubs (which he does a great job singing the same way as he did for those shows, only healthier) was the typical, common practices by record labels when putting out high-quality live albums (for example Kiss Alive! and Halford Live Insurrection) in order to attract higher sales and radio play they would not be able to achieve with raw unpolished audio, such as editing out extended solos and outros, blending the two shows together and "polishing" the mix for a more consumer-oriented sound. The song order was also mixed up from the original setlist in order to make the album flow. Here is the original 1979 Tokyo, Japan setlist:
Steel & Leather Productions, U.S.A.