Surreal Footage Of JUDAS PRIEST Slaying It Live In Japan For The First Time, 1978
Full disclosure–I don't remember a time in my life when I didn't worship Judas Priest. So using the word "surreal" to describe the footage you are about to see of Priest performing for the first time in Japan in 1978 seems to me like a wildly inadequate way to describe this version of Priest, which included one of metal's greatest timekeepers, Irish drummer Les Binks.
Binks became the heartbeat for Priest starting in 1977 when he was hired to tour with the band as Sin after Sin drummer Simon Phillips had, according to Ian Hill, previously committed himself to a project with Cream bassist Jack Bruce. Binks would go on to record three records with Judas Priest, Stained Class, Killing Machine and the live album, Unleashed in the East. Binks is also credited with contributing to the sick slow burn track, "Beyond the Realms of Death" from Stained Class.
Another thing to consider about this era of Judas Priest is we get to witness vocalist Rob Halford on stage mostly before all the studs and leather. Just three years prior to their first visit to Japan, Priest appeared on BBC2's legendary music program The Old Grey Whistle Test looking more like Led Zeppelin in silk shirts and bellbottoms. Ever the showman, Halford would have several wardrobe changes for the shows in Japan, and while they were not of the leather and studs variety, they are a sight to behold. Most Priest fans will likely agree that in addition to Halford's faultless vocals, performances from Glenn Tipton, K.K. Downing and, Ian Hill are just as remarkable.
Below you can behold Judas Priest ripping apart "Starbreaker" (with a fantastic intro by Glenn Tipton while Halford changes outfits), "Diamonds & Rust," and "Beyond the Realm of Death." Additional footage from the show at Koseinenkin Hall in Tokyo on July 31, 1978 can be seen here. Also included below are a few photos from Priest's 1978 Japan tour booklet.
Priest's incredible cover of Joan Baez's 1975 single, "Diamonds & Rust."
"Beyond the Realms of Death."