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IS JUDAS PRIEST PULLING A VAN HALEN?

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Judas Priest with Dave Holland, far left.

Speaking of metal, children, and tricky issues: Tuesday will see the release of the 30th Anniversary Edition of Judas Priest’s British Steel, and Phil Freeman over at MSN has made an interesting observation about the accompanying liner notes:

[The booklet] also includes a short note from the band on the inside cover, a two-page spread of live photos, a two-page essay by some dude I’ve never heard of (Dave Shack), two more pages of live photos, and two pages of credits (band and crew). And while the essays deal with the 30th anniversary, all the photos are new-looking, presumably shot on the 2009 tour. Which means they include Scott Travis on drums. And when you look at the credits in the back of the booklet, Scott Travis is listed as Judas Priest’s drummer.

Which is fine…if you’re talking about the [accompanying] live album. Scott Travis has been Judas Priest’s drummer since 1989. He played on Painkiller, all the Ripper Owens-era material, Angel of Retribution and Nostradamus. But he did not play on the 1980 recording of British SteelDave Holland did.

Freeman hypothesizes that Holland has been omitted from the band’s history because he’s been in jail since 2004 for the sexual assault of his mentally handicapped seventeen year-old drum student. (Assuming he serves his complete sentence, Holland will be released in 2012.) But Freeman also notes that ALL of the credits from the original British Steel recording sessions – including “where and when it was recorded and who produced it” – have been deleted from this re-issue.

So is this a case of someone just making a really, really poor decision with regards to the manner in which a commemoration of a classic album is going to be presented? Or is the band actively trying to pretend that they never had anything to do with Holland, the same way Van Halen now likes to pretend that Michael Anthony was never in the group?

If it’s the former, than this was just a silly decision and hopefully if there are future pressings of the CD, someone will think to correct the error. But if it’s the latter… well, even if Holland is a bastard, it’s a really misguided choice. Not as despicable as Ozzy Osbourne having Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake’s original bass and drum tracks re-recorded for the Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman re-issues in 2002, but still… Holland was in Judas Priest for ten years. He was obviously a big part of the sound of British Steel, as well as a lot of other classic Priest records. Presumably he gets royalties from these releases whether he’s listed in the credits or not. And as Freeman notes, Holland had been out of the band for a decade and a half when he was arrested; it’s not even like Static-X having to fire Tripp Eisen for sexual misconduct while he was still a member. So there’s no need to distance themselves from Holland, even as a PR move.

In conclusion: it always sucks when bands try to re-write their own history. I have a lot of love and respect for Judas Priest, so I really hope that that’s not what they’re trying to do here.

Read the rest of Phil Freeman’s article at MSN.

-AR

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