Part 41 of my series of Iron Maiden reviews! This time, we’ll talk about the Kerrang! exclusive tribute album Maiden Heaven, and a cover tune that didn’t make it onto the B-sides for A Matter of Life and Death.
This will be the last Maiden review of this series before Christmas. After the holiday we’ll reconvene so be sure to check back!
TRIBUTE TO IRON MAIDEN – Maiden Heaven (2008)
A little bit out of continuity, I wanted to get this release out of the way before we get into the next Maiden studio album. Maiden Heaven was a Kerrang! exclusive tribute album, probably out of print. I received this from my bud Dan Slessor who writes for the mag. It was especially interesting to me for the exclusive Metallica and Dream Theater tracks! Thus far, neither of these tracks have been reissued on releases by either band!
“Remember Tomorrow” by Metallica is friggin’ amazing. It sounds exactly as you would expect, retaining the hard/soft vibe of the original, but with Kirk’s slippery soloing and Lars’ machine gun snare fills. James nails the vocal with his trademark growl. I would consider this among the very best covers that Metallica have recorded. As James says, “Yeeeahh-yah!” Unfortunately, there are no producer credits.
Dream Theater had the guts to cover “To Tame A Land”, one of my personal favourite tracks from Piece of Mind. Dream Theater have been nothing but courageous their entire career, so it is only suitable that they would tackle one of the lesser-appreciated Maiden epics, and one of the rhythmically most challenging. Mike Portnoy was still the drummer at this time. It’s interesting to hear the song performed with keyboards since the original was so sparse and dry (reflecting the planet Dune itself). But the keyboards lend a more exotic middle-eastern flavour. It is also interesting hearing anyone but Steve Harris playing the bass line since it is such an integral part of the song. Nothing against James Myung, the man is an absolute master of his instrument, but any time anybody covers Maiden, the bass always sticks out like a sore thumb because nobody sounds like Steve. James LaBrie has no problem tackling the challenging vocal, high notes and all.
Other bands that appear on the disc include Coheed and Cambria (“The Trooper”), Avenged Sevenfold (“Flash of the Blade”…woo!), Trivium (“Iron Maiden”) and Machine Head (“Hallowed Be Thy Name”). Most of the rest of the bands I have never heard of, but I also liked this soft acoustic n’ keys version of “Brave New World” by a band called Ghostline. One that I definitely hated was “Run To The Hills” by some band called Sign. It’s just…weird. Unique, but just wrong.
Overall, an interesting listen but I really only need it for Metallica and Dream Theater.
And second, from the brand new Deep Purple tribute album…
IRON MAIDEN – “Space Truckin'” from the Deep Purple tribute album Re-Machined (2012)
Although this came out in 2012, the Maiden track “Space Truckin'” was recorded during the A Matter of Life and Death sessions for use as a B-side. Last time, I talked about the other cover they recorded, “Hocus Pocus” (by Focus!) which made it to the “Different World” single. “Space Truckin'” went unreleased, until now.
Sonically, it is very raw, sounding live off the floor. Some fans were underwhelmed by the track. I think it’s obvious that Bruce is thrilled to be covering his idol, Ian Gillan. He throws in lots of those little Gillan idiosyncrasies. “Eee-hoo-hoo!” While I think Maiden did a fine job on the track (especially considering they don’t have a keyboard player), this is not one of the great Maiden covers. It’s no “I’ve Got The Fire” or “Massacre”. It’s still a total treat to hear Maiden gleefully ripping through this classic. If this was actually live in front of an audience, I think it would have been better received.
Being a big Dream Theater (and especially, Mike Portnoy) fan, but not so much of a fan that I need to collect every b-side and cover version, I’m still curious to hear their Maiden cover. I will seek that out online (hello, YouTube). These tribute albums are usually something I only listen to once, if at all, but there’s obviously a market for them, and occasionally a brilliant interpretation appears. Sounds like Metallica pulled that one off on this CD, per your comments.
I tend to just listen to the one or two tracks that really impress me. Otherwise, I rarely buy tribute albums. Most don’t even have actual bands on them anymore — just conglomerates of well-known musicians.
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I used to enjoy them when they became popular in the early ’90s, back when artists I already liked were covering other artists I liked. Now, like you said, it’s often a collection of musicians who may not have even been in the same room, many of whom we’ve never heard of, covering music that was better in its original form. I’m sure there are exceptions, but who has the time to sift through the crap?
I don’t. There are just way too many. A lot of them seem to be assembled by record labels. I have an Alice Cooper one…Rod Stewart…AC/DC…Queen…they all seem to have the same core group of musicians attached to them.
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There’s a group- Steve Overland, Steve Grimett, Paul Di’Anno and Doogie White. They form the backbone to many many tribute albums.
I think I’ve got that DT cover as a bonus track on one of their albums, I’ll need to check. The Hocus Pocus cover (thanks for sending that!) was fun but not having Nicko yodelling was a missed opportunity. Nice to hear the band having fun like that.
Not heard any of the other stuff… like Rich, I’m not a huge fan of tribute albums. One listen stuff most of the time.
I sent what? Say whu? ;)
There are very few tribute albums that I play all the way through. Clearly this is not one of them. I play it for two tracks that I find outstanding. The rest is just curiosity.
I do have a cool Rush tribute album that I’ll talk about next year, that I find exciting all the way through. Billy Sheehan, Devin Townsend, yup!
Nice one. I think anyone doing a Rush cover is going to have to be on the top of their game! Is that the one that was called Working Man? I remember seeing that kicking about for a while.
You’re also obviously at the top of your game with an excellent memory. That is the album. If memory serves, Rush tried to block its release although I don’t know why.
My buddy Tom says, “Probably because it kicks so much ass.”
That’s probably it! Is it another Bob Kulick-helmed album?
No I don’t think so. I don’t think Bob is on it. But I will have to check to make sure. It sure did have a lot of excellent players. I think Portnoy is on there, Devin Townsend, and a lot of people you don’t usually see on tribute albums.
This is a fun conversation. Tribute albums are generally silly. I mean, Hootie on Encomium? These things are for fans only, and even then, just as a curiosity. The occasional good track doesn’t make them worth it.
I never even bought Encomium although it did have a couple good tracks. Rollins collectors will want it obviously. Hootie at least picked an appropriate track.
This Maiden one is critical due to the inclusion of a Metallica track. And a damn fine Metallica track at that. You don’t see Metallica do this tribute album stuff often. The Ramones, and Deep Purple, are the only other times they have done this.
I’m disappointed to see that “Eee-hoo-hoo” was not a tag for this post
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It’s never too late to add. Look again!
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Thanks. I love that word. It also reminds me of Daffy Duck. I also love this version. Rough?, who cares Bruce sounds great.