REVIEW: Iron Maiden – “Virus” (1996 single) / Metal For Muthas (1979)

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.

4/5 stars

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15 comments

        1. For both parts, with post cards and box, mint…I could see paying that if I absolutely wanted to have it. But when it came out I remember selling used copies for $5.99.

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        2. Update! I just got a copy of “Metal for Muthas” on LP for £4! It’s fairly tatty but the vinyl looks clean and scratch free. Rocking out to the E. F. Band right now… whoever they are!? Sanctuary was awesome.

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        3. They were ok. The worst is Toad the Wet Sprocket’s “Blues in A” which was about as interesting as you’d expect with a title like that. Seems very out of place here. Side B is better. Got Angel Witch, Maiden and Samson on there. Feels like a bit of Metal history in my hand!

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        4. Sadly, it’s Tomorrow and Yesterday with Paul Samson on vocals. This comp came out before Bruce had joined. It’s an ok song but not a great choice for this. With the exception of Angel Witch it’s like Maiden are A-list here surrounded by C and D-List bands. The Maiden tracks just stick out. Shame Def Leppard, Saxon, Venom and Diamond Head weren’t on here then it might have been a bit more competitive!
          Hearing this version of Wrathchild, it’s just struck me how it’s like Deep Purple’s Stomrbringer! There’s even a spot where Paul Di’Anno does a similar vocal fill to Coverdale on it. Interesting stuff.

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  1. I cn only imagine what most of what Mike’s collection is worth. At this point, I’m guessing, he should call it his retirement fund.

    That is a cool set. Maiden has had some cool releases, indeed.

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