REVIEW: Iron Maiden – Death on the Road (2005)

Part 36 of my series of Iron Maiden reviews!

SAM_1615

IRON MAIDEN – Death on the Road (2005)

When Death On The Road came out, I was very excited. When a band of Iron Maiden’s age (or Rush’s, for that matter) put out great new studio albums, I like a live album to follow. Back in the 80’s I would have found this unnecessary  However, let’s face it — how many more Maiden tours will be there be? How many times will Maiden play “Passchendale” live? It may never happen, so a souvenir like this is important to me.  Some fans would simply choose not to buy an album like this since they may already own Rock In Rio, and that’s fine.  For me, I want to hear more.  I want to hear “Dance of Death”.  I want to hear “Passchendale”.  I want to hear “Journeyman”.

Anyway, what I’m getting at is: If you don’t want it, don’t buy it. If you love Maiden, and if they never play these songs again, then why miss out? New fans would be better off picking up Live After Death or Flight 666 (which we’ll get to in due time) for a better overview of the whole Maiden shebang. For the diehards, this is solid.

Death On The Road, recorded in Dortmund Germany on 24 November 2003, has a good mix of newer “reunion” era Maiden with the classics. Yes, I could probably go the rest of my life without ever hearing another version of “Run To The Hills” or “Running Free”, but it’s a double CD and you may as well get the whole setlist. If Maiden didn’t play those songs live, there would be riots. The real treats here are the Dance Of Death material.  There’s a DVD too, which I don’t have — very expensive and hard to get here.

The show opens with one new track, “Wildest Dreams”, the first single from Dance of Death.  While this was never a personal favourite of mine, it is better live than on the album.  Also better live is the single “Rainmaker”.  It just has a little more energy which helps compensate f0r the “repetitive chorus syndrome”.  “Wrathchild” and a somewhat flat “Can I Play With Madness” represent the early material right off the bat, before Maiden slam into “The Trooper” which was the single from this album.

“Dance of Death” begins with Bruce quoting Hamlet:  “There are more things in heaven and earth, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”  I love this song. The afforementioned “Rainmaker” and “Brave New World” follow.  Surprisingly, “Brave New World” is the only song from that album, where Rock In Rio had plenty of material from it.  This is why it is important for a band of Maiden’s stature to keep releasing live albums.  The setlists change drastically tour to tour.

The best of the new songs, “Passchendale” (with more poetry, this time from Wilfrid Owen), stokes the fire, taking its place in Maiden history as one of their best live epics.  It shines live.  It is followed by a lackluster “Lord of the Flies”.  While these Blaze Bayley songs sound awesome with Bruce’s pipes, it was probably past time to retire them from the set.  After all, they could have played “The Wicker Man” or an older song like “Powerslave” instead of this tune that, frankly, isn’t up to the quality of the rest of the concert.  Anyway, it’s nice to have a Blaze song “sung properly” so to speak, although Bruce has to awkwardly shift from his low voice to high.  It was clearly not written for his voice, but he does his best with the material at hand.

It is on disc two that the classics come out.  After a repetitive “No More Lies” that goes on a bit too long, you are assaulted with “Hallowed”, “Fear of the Dark”, “Iron Maiden”, “Beast”, and of course “Run to the Hills”, with only the acoustic “Journeyman” breaking up the slew of hits.   “Journeyman” was a brave choice live, but the crowd know every note.  Judging by the sequence this seems to be the first song of the encores.  Wonderful soloing here.

Production by Kevin “Caveman” Shirley and Steve Harris is fine, but a little bit more dull than the stellar Rock In Rio. Cover art (once again by Melvyn Grant who did Fear of the Dark) is a bit cheesy and I’m not too much into the choice of colours. The booklet, as always, is loaded with awesome live shots.

With this album in the can, Bruce had time for another solo album.  How could he possibly top or even equal The Chemical Wedding?  With a Tyranny of Souls

4/5 stars

SAM_1616

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38 comments

  1. I never bothered with this one as I only got into Dance of Death retrospectively so I missed this one out. I daresay I’ll give it a go at some point. I find the lack of Brave New World material odd. It seemed a bit early to exclude Wicker Man but… I guess Maiden just have too many good songs!

    Pretty sure that DVD isn’t expensive over here but only in the reissued plastic case. The first release cardboard cases are hard to find in good condition now.

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        1. I don’t know the exchange rate exactly but it would be between $16 and $20. But on the Canadian Amazon site? Currently $77.

          I’m not a big fan of the rapid fire editing myself. But this is the MTV/ADD generation.

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        2. Haha $77! No sale. Well if you ever want me to post one out you know where I am.

          The editing is especially inappropriate for Maiden. It’s not like they’re boring to watch! I can see the point of speeding things up if it was some shoe-gazing band but Maiden are quite interesting visually thank you very much.

          Happily the En-Vivo and Flight 666 DVDs are much better in that respect. I love those ones… especially En-Vivo.

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        3. Unfortunately there’s the whole issue of region codes. I have a multi-region player but it’s not one I use as my main one. Ironically any cheapie $20 DVD player here can usually play multiple regions. The regular ones cannot.

          With Steve and Janick in the band, Maiden are never boring to watch. Perhaps in the future I should review the live DVD’s and see who directed what.

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  2. Great review. I understand your point about live albums. For me, though, I only buy every live album from my favorite artists. For any others I’m usually a little more picky. As much as I got into Maiden over the last 15 years, there’s been such a glut of live material that I had to draw the line somewhere…and this was it. I haven’t gotten any of their live releases since (and including) this one, although I did watch Flight 66 and the Somewhere In Time (or whatever that one was called) on TV and they were great.

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    1. Yes I’m the same Rich — I can’t go out and buy every single live album anymore. Just from the bands I really love. AC/DC have a new live album out. If I get one for Christmas, so be it, but I don’t think I will actively seek it out. For some artists, like Aerosmith, AC/DC and Ozzy, I no longer buy everything. And God knows Ozzy sure does enough live material.

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      1. And then there are artists who should have more live material released. Until Atlantic finally released the Zeppelin BBC recordings and the live DVD, “The Song Remains The Same” was the only available live recording. Of course, over the years I accumulated at least one decent-sounding bootleg from every tour they did, but it would be nice to have some high-quality archive releases from them.

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        1. Yes indeed, and there are still very few Black Sabbath Mk 1 releases available. Just the old Live At Last, which wasn’t done with the band’s involvement, and now there’s an added disc of stuff on Past Lives (which also has Live At Last as the other disc). But you can’t tell me that Sabbath didn’t record anything else.

          Jimmy Page has announced a whole series of Zeppelin deluxe editions for 2013 (45 years of Zep!!) so perhaps chances are we will get official releases.

          I’m like you Rich, for a band I love, I like a live album for every tour. Or, at the least, every lineup. Although I doubt it will ever happen, I would love a Deep Purple live release from the Joe Lynn Turner and Joe Satriani lineups!

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        2. I heard about those Zeppelin deluxe editions that are in the works .I’ll be curious to see what format(s) they’re released in. Based on the various formats of the recently released “Celebration Day” live album/video, I’m guessing there will be various levels of reissues, up to Pink Floyd Immersion-style box sets. Since they’re my favorite band, it’s a no-brainer that I’ll be buying whatever top line versions are released. I already warned my wife about those purchases.

          I’m surprised there aren’t any officially released JLT-era Purple live releases since there seem to be a lot of live archive releases from them. Guess they focus on Mach II and Mach III.

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        3. Yes, they do focus on II and III. There are two (I think) releases of Mark IV — a King Biscuit Flower Hour release and an expanded live in Japan. There was a bootleg box set with plenty reunion era Mark II and of course there are plenty of the Steve Morse era too.

          The Zeppelins will be a must for me as well. I skipped the Floyds. I can make due with the albums. But like you, Zeppelin is a big band for me and I would buy whatever the top format is as well. I bought the DVD/blu/CD set of Celebration Day and no regrets there at all. As much as people will ALWAYS find something to complain about, Jimmy Page clearly has always put care into his sets.

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        4. Couldn’t agree with you more about that last statement. I’m confident that he/they won’t rip us off with these hopefully-definitive versions of each album. I just hope they skip the multiple formats and just issue one complete set for each. The good news for me is, I just got my first Blu-Ray player (a hand-me-down from a friend who just upgraded to a 3D Blu-Ray player), so if that format is available that’s the one I’ll choose. Of course, I missed out on the “Celebration Day” Blu-Ray by a couple of weeks, but I think the DVD will suffice.

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        5. Oh I;m sure DVD is fine, and the blu-ray players up-convert as well. I think Zeppelin will most likely issue budget priced versions of the new remasters for the lay-people. Like Pearl Jam has done, for example.

          3D is something I’d like to get into next. But it will require a new receiver and TV as well as player! Blu-ray players are so cheap now, I was going to buy a second one for the bedroom, because many of my movies are on blu. But now with 3D becoming a popular format, I’m torn. May as well wait and get the full enchelada some time in the future. I loved Avatar in the theater; if that experience can be replicated at home, I’m in.

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        6. In some ways I’m glad I don’t care about 3D, because then I would be in the market for all that new equipment. I haven’t bought a movie on DVD in several years, and the ones I have I barely have time to watch, so I doubt I’ll be buying any Blu-Rays. When it comes to music video releases, including surround sound, I will be choosing the Blu-Ray option whenever it’s available.

          You’re probably right about Zeppelin releasing budget priced versions of each reissue. The thing I’m concerned about is a series of options like standard, expanded, deluxe, mega, uber, etc. There should be one reasonably priced box set with everything they want to include, and then bare-bones version for the non-collectors.

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        7. Yeah I find all the multiple versions of things on the market to be extremely confusing. Even the Zeppelin — how many versions of Celebration Day are there? Vinyl, CD, CD/DVD, CD/DVD/blu, and just a straight audio blu version? Something like that? Way too many. With the last Priest album I had three versions to choose from, it gets crazy!

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        8. You forgot the CD+2DVD version, which has the same bonus DVD as the CD/BluRay version. That’s the one I got. Haven’t had a chance to check out the bonus DVD, which has the full dress rehearsal from a few days earlier, shot on one camera from a distance. Should be an interesting alternate version of the concert.

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        9. See I forgot one! Too many. Simply too many. I haven’t checked out the bonus DVD yet too. I need to find the time, but I don’t don’t sit in front of the TV that often.

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        10. Pressure is on, knowing a Zep-spert (haha!) like you is reading! I’ve actually avoided reviewing Zep with the exception of the first box set because I find it really hard to find sufficient words. I don’t think their significance can ever be understated. Growing up in the 80’s, Zeppelin were directly responsible for just about every group I ever liked. When I first heard Angus Young talking about how he disliked Zep, and preferred the Yardbirds, I was shocked — I’d never heard anybody outside of punk circles so anything remotely critical!

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        11. I don’t think I ever red any negative comments from Angus about Zeppelin, but it’s not surprising that he might have done that back when they were just getting popular. I’ll bet he would admit to being a huge fan of Zeppelin now.

          As for “finding sufficient words” to write about Zeppelin, I completely understand. One of the reasons I enjoy writing about the less-played artists in my collection is that I get to learn things about them as I listen. I’m not sure I would have much to write about my favorite artists other than “this is great.” Somewhere down the road I might give it a shot, but it will probably be a long time before I set my sights on Zeppelin. I’ll leave that to you (no pressure).

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        12. No pressure indeed! I wish I was a musician so I had better vocabulary to do this properly. I can use words like “scorching” or “face-melting” or “sublime”…but talking to my sister, who is a real musician, she can use terminology that is exact and much more descriptive on a technical level.

          However I am who I am and I only have the tools available. So I will do my best. Some day! It’s possible my next series will be Marillion.

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        13. I do remember the Puff Daddy-Jimmy Page collaboration, and it was an abomination. I remember seeing Godzilla in the theater and being pleasantly surprised at the inclusion of “Kashmir” until I hear Puff Daddy’s “contribution.” Seeing Jimmy on stage with him made the experience even worse. Over the years I’ve been open to a handful of rap artists, but I would be just as happy if rap never existed (or at least if it never proliferated all styles of music and pop culture). Puff Daddy, however, is just awful, and having a true musical genius endorse him like that made me very uneasy.

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  3. Alright, another live record. I suppose it’s interesting for the deeply invested fans. But, didn’t we just have a live record? Or is my sense of time askew because I’m going through these without having to wait for time to pass between albums? Aw, what the hell. It’s Maiden. At this point, just plug it in and let ‘er rip! There’s two discs here, so let’s jump right in.

    Wildest Dreams’ lyrics still seem cheesy to me, but I love that they (once again) open the show with a song off the current record. And the crowd sure was into it on the choruses! My memory may be off, but this seems faster than the recorded version. Wrathchild, Can I Play With Madness and The Trooper all in a row? Haha YEAH!

    Dance Of Death, here, comes complete with recorded voice intro and cricket noises. The crowd starts clapping along during the intro but that soon trails off. The guitar solo sections here are incredible. Rainmaker, another current-album song, also has a recorded intro. I have to think the band used spaces like these to switch guitars and whatnot. Anyway, this one’s another power-chorder with blistering solos. Sounds fine.

    Brave New World really gets the crowd singing along on the repetitive chorus! I’d say they were into it. They also sang along on Paschendale, which is a superb inclusion here. I really liked this version, and the track is strong. Could be the highlight of this set for me (though I still need to hear the rest!). And rounding out the first disc is Lord Of The Flies, another unexpected track. Cool that they can pull out tracks like this and they sound like they belong next to the Hits everyone came to hear. Great to hear Bruce’s vocals on a Blaze song! Hey Blaze, see how he changes notes and adds inflection? Yeah!

    The second disc kicks off with No More Lies, another current-album track. I don’t know why the crowd insists on clapping along with the guitar intro, but they do. Probably they just needed something to do with their hands. Anyway, as the song wears on, all I can say is holy hell, those guitar solos! Damn. So then they head straight into another three-pack of hits, with Hallowed Be Thy Name, Fear Of The Dark and Iron Maiden (cool to have a first record track!). There’s twenty minutes of Maiden fan orgasm, right there. And all of them are strong versions. Woo! And that’s the end, head to encore.

    Then it’s straight into Journeyman, off the current record. Another deeper cut that I’m happy is here. Even cooler that it’s the gentle outro track. The crowd sings along on the instrumental bits, they’re right into it. And then, before you forget that Maiden came here to kick your ass with the rawk, they slam out The Number Of The Beast and Run To The Hills to end the show.

    In sum? I liked it. A cool song selection and running order. Would have been a good show to see. Says the guy who has never seen Iron Maiden in concert, so really, ANY show would be good to see, at this point.

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      1. I’m glad they’re not. i predicted them, because I saw an interview with Bruce saying there would be social media madness after the first show. Also because his voice is not was it once was, the Blaze songs are easier for him to sing. (Although this hasn’t stopped him doing Aces High and Where Eagles Dare)

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