Here we go again! Let’s continue. Part 28 of my series of Iron Maiden reviews!
IRON MAIDEN – Ed Hunter / “Wrathchild 1999” (1999 video game/compilation)
Blaze Bayley was done. Maybe it was the performances. Maybe it was time for a change. Whatever had happened, Steve Harris decided it was time for Iron Maiden to get a new singer. Manager Rod Smallwood told him to meet with Bruce Dickinson, who wanted to make a return to Maiden and finish his career properly. Harris was skeptical. If Bruce quit once before, why would he want to come back?
After meeting with Bruce, Steve decided it was the right move. But it wasn’t as simple as that. Adrian Smith was in Bruce’s solo band, and Steve wanted him, too.
“Does that mean Janick goes?” asked Adrian, who was very much against the idea of forcing Janick Gers out of the band that he had spent the last decade in.
“No,” said Steve. “I want a three-guitar lineup.”
And thus was formed the guitar trio known to metal fans worldwide as The Three Amigos.
Iron Maiden, with Bayley, had already been working on the Ed Hunter video game. It was Maiden’s second attempt since the aborted Melt game was announced. In fact, in the game, it is Blaze’s head that you must find, not Bruce Dickinson’s. This hardly mattered in light of the massive news of a highly anticipated reunion tour featuring Bruce, Adrian, Steve, Dave Murray, Janick Gers, and Nicko McBrain. This was not a one-off, Steve Harris made it clear that if you’re back in Maiden, you’re back for good. This was timed to coincide with the release of the game which also doubled as a Maiden compilation album — their second, since Best of the Beast.
This time it was a little different. To make it special, fans were permitted to vote for which songs were to appear on the disc, 20 tracks total over two discs. Since the 20 Maiden classics here were voted for online by the hard core fans, there is a fantastic balance of Maiden tunes from every era. There are no other Maiden compilations that feature such a heady brew of Paul Di’Anno, Bruce Dickinson, and Blaze Bayley era material.
It’s nice to hear such underrated classics as “Phantom Of The Opera” alongside semi-forgotten later material like “Tailgunner”. So many personal favourites are on here, including “Stranger In A Strange Land”, that I almost feel as if I put this disc together myself! They kick it off with the immortal Live After Death version of “Iron Maiden”; appropriate given that this compilation supported a greatest hits tour.
But that’s not all folks. Now that Bruce was back, it would be nice to promote that with a single. So, Maiden remixed “Wrathchild” with a brand new Bruce Dickinson lead vocal on it. The remix was done by Kevin Shirley, Maiden’s new producer and the man behind the boards of Journey’s Trial By Fire album. Since the original version of “Wrathchild” is already on the disc, this is a true bonus track, a little extra for the fans dying to get a preview of the reunited Maiden.
But it was a bonus only included on the US version of Ed Hunter, a version that was priced well over $40 in Canada. I found a “Wrathchild 1999” promo CD on eBay as well.
But how’s the game? Well, keep in mind it’s well over a decade old now. I don’t even know if it will run on a modern computer. It’s a first person shooter, with Maiden music in the background. You get to do combat in the environments of Maiden’s formative years in London, within their album covers, and if you’re lucky you might even run into Eddie. Personally, I never got that far. It’s a pretty challenging game and I’ve never made it very far. I enjoy it though, something about plowing through a bunch of monsters while “Phantom Of The Opera” is playing in the background is real fun.
Ed Hunter is not a “Doom” style first person shooter. I do not know the term for this type of game, but you do not have freedom of movement in the environments. It’s like a shooting gallery game.
I personally enjoyed Ed Hunter quite a bit. I used to take the game out to have a go every once in a while, and I still dust off the CDs for a rocking good time in the car. These discs make an excellent road compilation. I remember driving a bunch of people to a Record Store party (I was always the D.D.) with this on, and it went over very well! Overall I think it’s definitely a worthwhile purchase, if you can track one down at a reasonable price.
In the meantime, Maiden had to prove their mettle by making a new studio album…