The newest "thing" we are finding being done outside of the never ending supply of "Greatest Hits" packages is the issuing of classic bands and their rich history in the form of the "Setlist: Live" CD's. These albums take a wide sampling of an artists catalog as done in concert and presents it to the listener in the hopes of giving them the feeling that they were taking part in the show. My first sampling of this new adventure came with the Judas Priest "Setlist" and having been a fan of the band since around 1978 or so, I could safely speak about what is included. Historically speaking, The Priest now has officially released six live albums. Four are with Rob Halford while two are with Tim "Ripper" Owens. This "Setlist: Live" CD delivers material from three of these six albums and I guess in some sense it's a good way to start your live Priest journey. They start off with "Judas Rising" which hails from the bands Angel Of Retribution CD, which was the album that found them again with Halford on the microphone. I will admit that I felt a few different tunes should have been selected for the release and was scratching my head at some of the omissions but despite this did like that we get a healthy sample of Unleashed In The East which is not only one of my favorite live albums in the Metal genre, but also perhaps one of the best ever recorded in history. I was happy to find "Living After Midnight" excluded since we don't need to hear that every five minutes but I would have swapped "Dissident Aggressor" for "Electric Eye/Hellion" in a moment. "Beyond The Realms Of Death" and "You've Got Another Thing Comin'" are the two tracks that were unreleased in the US Region but appeared on Japanese issues and while the first track is amazing, the length of 'YGATC" is ponderous since we get the whole extended stage rap as well. Even though I love the song, I just hate how long it is during a show and feel the band should be sliding another song in for the crowd instead of "working us up" a little more.
The album covers a wide scope of the Priest history and begins in 1979 and brings us to the recent past. It does not feature a single track from the "Ripper" years which I felt was a shame because he brought a lot to the table and has proven himself to be one of Metal most talented vocalists as well. They could have given us "Bullet Train" or "Blood Red Skies" but alas neither is to be found. I did enjoy how "Exciter" was included but would have bypassed "Tyrant" with something like "Sinner" or "Running Wild" since those two tracks no longer appear to get any attention in the Priest live catalog. We do get "Green Manalishi" which while not an "original" Priest penned tune is one of my favorites and "Freewheel Burning" which still excites me from their Defenders Of The Faith CD. The Judas Priest "Setlist: Live" runs at about sixty minutes and given the fact that a CD holds eighty minutes of music these days, I would have liked to see more tunes included for the purchasing dollar. I liked this one yes, but felt with the use of the online side as well that a few secret tracks could have been offered and perhaps more photos. This is a good release and more geared for the fan that is looking to expand their Priest collection or want a safe sample of their live body of work. Does Priest have better live tunes that could and should have been featured? Well, yes of course they do but this is not horrible by any stretch of the imagination. If you already own the original albums then this is most likely a pass for you unless you are one of those fanatics that need every release from artists they enjoy the most. I don't know if I would buy this for only two tracks as opposed to downloading them via the conventional mediums for such practice. It's up to you, but this was a fun way to spend an hour. I'm not complaining.
About The Setlist Collection: These releases are packaged in what is termed Eco-Friendly cardboard sleeves and that means there is not much to the actual package. It opens like a book, and the CD fits neatly into a slot. There is a single photo and some track listings but to see more you need to put the CD in your computer. Doing this offers the buyer a PDF of the booklet that gives you a couple of additional photos and some liner notes about the track selection. There is also a complete discography listing and each reference leads you to the Sony online store so you can make a purchase. They also offer up "recommended selections" should you have some additional interest.
1. Judas Rising
2. Riding On The Wind
3. Heading Out To The Highway
4. Breaking The Law
7. Out In The Cold
8. Dissident Aggressor
9. The Green Manalishi (With The Two Pronged Crown)
10. Beyond The Realms Of Death
11. Freewheel Burning
12. You've Got Another Thing Comin'