Part 23 of my series of Iron Maiden reviews! Continuing where we left off with Best of the Beast, we’re also taking a glance back to the past…
IRON MAIDEN – “Virus” (1996 two-part CD singles)
Last time, I was talking about Maiden’s first-ever greatest hits set, Best of the Beast. But there was also the single to be had, “Virus”.
Much like other UK singles, “Virus” was released in two parts each with its own B-sides and cover art. If you bought the first, you also got a box with 5 postcards and space to store the second disc.
The first disc contained the (unadvertized) single edit version of “Virus”. I can happily live without the slow, boring, goes-nowhere first three minutes of that song. At least the single edit only has the up-tempo part of the song. I recall when the single came out, a few of us had grumbled that Maiden seemed to be losing it…
The B-sides on this first single were the previously released covers, “My Generation” and “Doctor Doctor”. You could get these tracks on the previous single, “Lord of the Flies” from The X Factor. Having said that, these are great versions, among the best covers Maiden have ever recorded in this writer’s opinion. “My Generation” is of course the Who classic. Maiden breathe their original punky sensibilities into this one, and it rocks like nothing that actually made it onto The X Factor! “Doctor Doctor” is a beefed up version of the classic UFO song, and my preferred version.
The second disc was the really, really special one. It had the album version of “Virus” (all bloody 6:15 of it, ugh) but it also has the ultra rare “Sanctuary” and “Wrathchild” from the 1979 compilation album, Metal For Muthas! When I had first picked up the single for “Virus”, I didn’t even know these recordings existed. Collectors rejoice! These tracks were previously unavailable anywhere else but Metal For Muthas, and this is the first CD release.
“Sanctuary” and “Wrathchild” both feature Paul Di’Anno on vocals, and are from the short-lived Maiden lineup of Di’Anno, Steve Harris, Dave Murray, Tony Parsons, and Doug Sampson. This represents one of Maiden’s earliest recordings. There are more from this lineup, but we’re not going to talk about those for a while yet…
Do I need to mention that these two tracks are just pure smoke of the early-Maiden variety?
A quick glance at Wikipedia reveals that there is a 12″ single release of “Virus” as well, this one with the two missing Soundhouse Tapes tracks that weren’t on the Best of the Beast CD. Adding to “want” list!
I found the cover art of the “Virus” single to be a little lacklustre, particularly the one in the petri dish. Like, really? It didn’t scream to be made into a cool poster for my wall. There were some cooler things on the postcards including one by Derek Riggs.