Part 16 of my series of Iron Maiden reviews! NOTE: This album was later reissued as part of A Real Live Dead One.
IRON MAIDEN – A Real Live One (1993)
And then the bombshell hit. Just as Iron Maiden were releasing their next live album, Bruce Dickinson was leaving the band.
It was another in a string of major metal singer departures: Vince Neil and Rob Halford in 1992, and now Bruce Dickinson. Not to mention Dio splitting with Sabbath, again. It was a very demoralizing time to be a metal fan.
Tattooed Millionaire was a big enough success to warrant a sequel. On the advice of Maiden manager Rod Smallwood, Bruce was encouraged not to just do a half-assed sequel, but to really throw himself into the creative process. What he came up with was very different and intriguing; Bruce likened it to early Peter Gabriel. This triggered some soul searching. What if this direction was to pursued? What then?
Bruce approached Smallwood. “As you can see, the music is very different, that’s the good news,” he started. “The bad news is I’ve decided to leave the band.”
As a compromise, Bruce agreed to do the next tour, promoting the live album A Real Live One. A Real Live One was a document of the Fear of the Dark tour, and after it was mixed the band planned to hit the road again for a second leg. Bruce did not want to jeopardize the tour, and Steve Harris agreed to do it as a farewell. This was a decision that all parties would regret, but more on that later. In the meantime, Maiden had a live album to promote, with a distinct black cloud over it.
Maiden had chosen to do two live albums. First came A Real Live One, which covered music from 1986-1992. Then, post-tour, A Real Dead One covering the early years was scheduled. Splitting the live album into two may have proven to be a mistake, as it meant A Real Live One was lopsided and full of songs that many in North America did not care about: “Heaven Can Wait”, “From Here To Eternity”, “Bring Your Daughter”, but nothing of the beloved earlier period previously covered on Live After Death.
And how do you top an album like Live After Death? You can’t, so A Real Live One was doomed to be deemed inferior from the start.
Making matters worse, not only were Maiden releasing a live album that summer, but so did Kiss, Ozzy, and Van Halen.
The production seemed a little muddier (the first without Martin Birch since the early days). The performances were fine, as expected, Maiden are nothing but professionals. I don’t listen to this album often. Later live albums that cover this material are superior, and it would have helped if the album had pre-1986 classics on it. Although A Real Live One had four albums to draw upon, that period of Maiden is not the golden era, and the albums are undeniably less classic than the pre-’86 period.
I can understand their reasoning of doing the release like this. I’m sure they felt that a live album without overlap with Live After Death was better value for the money. And if you wanted those songs, you could get A Real Dead One later on. But still, a Maiden live set without “The Trooper” or “Hallowed” or “Number” was a lopsided Beast indeed.
Worthy: “Fear of the Dark”, “Afraid to Shoot Strangers”, “The Evil That Men Do”, “The Clairvoyant”.
Ugh: a flat “Can I Play With Madness” & “From Here To Eternity”.
Missing: “Wasted Years”. That would have been a worthy addition to the set.
Derek Riggs returned to do the cover art for this and it’s a fun striking painting. Nothing special, just another cool Eddie.
The single was the awesome “Fear Of The Dark”, live (which had a better cover than the album). This had become a concert classic already, with a massive fan singalong. The B-side was “Hooks In You” from the No Prayer album and tour. I’ve never been a fan of this song, but I have no problem with Maiden issuing live B-sides of songs that are rarely aired live. It’s good for documenting history. It’s also available on the Fear of the Dark bonus disc edition.
|1. Be Quick Or Be Dead|
|2. From Here To Eternity|
|3. Can I Play With Madness|
|4. Wasting Love|
|6. The Evil That Men Do|
|7. Afraid To Shoot Strangers|
|8. Bring Your Daughter…To The Slaughter|
|9. Heaven Can Wait|
|10. The Clairvoyant|
|11. Fear Of The Dark|