Judas Priest - British Steel
Album Comparisons: British Steel
British Steel! Who can forget metal classics like "Breaking the Law," "Living After Midnight," "Grinder," and "Metal Gods?" This is an essential album for any classic metalhead's collection, and so it was naturally given the "remastered" treatment right around the time of its 30th anniversary. Does the remaster hold up?

Rapid Fire

Original 1986 U.S. CD release

Rapid Fire

2001 30th anniversary remaster

Rapid Fire

Metal Gods

Original 1986 U.S. CD release

Metal Gods

2001 30th anniversary remaster

Metal Gods

Breaking the Law

Original 1986 U.S. CD release

Breaking the Law

2001 30th anniversary remaster

Breaking the Law

Grinder

Original 1986 U.S. CD release

Grinder

2001 30th anniversary remaster

Grinder

United

Original 1986 U.S. CD release

United

2001 30th anniversary remaster

United

You Don't Have to Be Old to Be Wise

Original 1986 U.S. CD release

You Don't Have to Be Old to Be Wise

2001 30th anniversary remaster

You Don't Have to Be Old to Be Wise

Living After Midnight

Original 1986 U.S. CD release

Living After Midnight

2001 30th anniversary remaster

Living After Midnight

The Rage

Original 1986 U.S. CD release

The Rage

2001 30th anniversary remaster

The Rage

Steeler

Original 1986 U.S. CD release

Steeler

2001 30th anniversary remaster

Steeler
And the winner is: 2001 30th Anniversary remaster, with reservations. Although the 1986 CD has the better mastering levels, it has some things working against it. For starters, it sounds like it's a couple of generations removed from the original master tapes. It also shows the irritating - yet at the time common - practice of U.S. releases of British LPs moving the singles to the front, disrupting the intended flow of the album. When you're used to the original British track order, this is very annoying. As for the remaster, the high end (as usual) suffers a bit compared to the 1986 release due to the peak limiting, but to be honest it's likely that most listeners aren't as discriminating as I am when it comes to that. The "crack" of the snare attack is reduced, but it's still light years ahead of any of today's hyper compressed, super loud rock recordings. The bass levels are much better on the remaster, and the basslines on songs like "Breaking the Law" and "Grinder" frankly sound fantastic. Overall, I think the remaster is a solid release, and the better packaging and included bonus materials put it over the top.