Saturday, July 02, 2005

I borrowed the Judas Priest "Metalworks: '73–'93" video from the Logans' house a couple weeks ago. It's your basic history of Priest, with an emphasis on promotional videos and assorted TV footage. The Rocka Rolla-era Old Grey Whistle Test segment is sterling, with the band sporting a gypsy/glam look, velvet-tressed and satin-dressed. Songs from the following handful of albums (lean times for our boys, even if they were hitting an artistic zenith) are featured via live footage from 1983.

Priest returned to the airwaves once the NWOBHM took hold. The real gems of the tape reside in this era, between 1980 and 1983. The video for "Living After Midnight" features Rob Loonhouse, the humble air guitarist-cum-folk hero who stole the 20th Century Box documentary on Iron Maiden's Early Days DVD. Here he is again, playing his cardboard guitar in a Judas Priest video—brilliant.

"Breaking the Law" uses the classic music-vid gambit of showing an authority figure succumbing to the liberating power of heavy metal. Halford and the band rob a bank (subduing customers and opening the vault by pointing their guitars at them), while the security guard on duty dons Rob Loonhouse's trademark reverse Flying V cardboard guitar and unconvincingly rocks out. Thus Priest make their getaway.

The real corker is the video for Point of Entry's "Hot Rockin'." The director stages a hilariously literal interpretation of the lyrics, so that when Halford sings the opening line—"I've done my share of working out"—the band are, yes, working out (shirtless) on a universal gym. Come chorus time, Downing/Tipton/Hill/Holland are showering, while Halford is in the sauna, ladling water over hot rocks. This is not the way to dispel rumours. For the rest of the song, the band take the stage, where their instruments and Rob's mike catch fire, so hot is the rocking.

Other than the clips from Heavy Metal Parking Lot later in the tape, the laughs stop there. Sure, there's more ludricrous crap, including the musical and visual nadir of Ram It Down's cover of "Johnny B. Goode," featuring stage divers, for godsakes, but the low-budget good humour has been replaced by cynical, business-driven misjudgements of a band desperate to keep filling hockey barns tour after tour.

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