edward the great

REVIEW: Iron Maiden – Edward The Great (2002)

Part 31 of my series of Iron Maiden reviews!

IRON MAIDEN – Edward The Great (2002)

“If you have purchased this then you have no doubt heard of Iron Maiden at some point during the band’s career over the last two-and-a-half decades.” – from the liner notes by Steve Harris

Clearly this CD (released simultaneous with the Eddie’s Archive box set) was not designed for the existing Iron Maiden fans.  The die hards were not the intended target market, they got the box set to satisfy them.

In fact, Maiden wisely made the cover art (a ho-hum piece by someone named Tom Adams) available for free download.  They knew some fans would just want it, and didn’t to force them to shell out for an album full of songs they already had.  Again.

Yes, this was Maiden’s third compilation CD since 1996’s Best of the Beast.  To keep things interesting, at least they shook up the format a bit.  Unlike Beast, this is not a career spanning anthology.  Unlike Ed Hunter, the fans did not vote on the tracks.  Edward the Great was a simple chronological compilation of singles from 1982 to Brave To World.  It ends with a recent track, a live version of “Fear of the Dark” from 2001’s Rock In Rio disc.  I don’t understand the lack of Di’Anno tracks while still including two Bayley songs.

(NOTE:  Maiden have also re-released the disc with an updated tracklist.  I don’t have that, so I can’t really talk about it.    Except to say it still has Blaze stuff on it!)

There’s an attractive booklet but not enough pictures.  For a CD called Edward the Great, I think a few Eddies from the past would be in order.   Oh well.

With the exception of the Blaze material, which simply breaks up the flow of the disc, every song belongs here.  You could argue about exclusions, certainly.  Most conspicuous by its absence is “Aces High”.  You could also make a case for including the original studio version of “Fear of the Dark”.  Playing Devil’s advocate, perhaps Maiden included the live version to demonstrate the power of an Iron Maiden concert to the initiated.

Whatever the case may be, as a greatest hits set I find this one lacking a bit.  Considering the format, I would have chosen to call it the “Bruce years” and remove the Blaze tracks.  Then you’d have room for two more classic singles (perhaps “Aces High”, “Tailgunner”, or “Be Quick of Be Dead”.  As it stands I don’t understand excluding Di’Anno classics in favour of more recent Blaze material (two songs that they weren’t playing live anymore anyway).

1.5/5 stars.  Better compilations were to come.

REVIEW: Iron Maiden – Eddie’s Archive (2002)

Part 30 of my series of Iron Maiden reviews!

IRON MAIDEN – Eddie’s Archive (2002, limited edition)

Eddie’s Archive was released simultaneously with another (!) greatest hits compilation called Edward The Great.  We’ll talk about that one next.  This is the real meat of it all!

This box set defines limited edition. I’m not sure how many copies were made, but the first printing with blue inlay was sold out nearly immediately. That’s the version I have. It was soon reissued with a red inlay to differentiate it, but even it is long out of print.

Inside you will find three individually packaged jewel cases, each containing 2 CDs for a total of 6 discs. These three “double albums” (for lack of a better term) are:

BBC Archives
Beast Over Hammersmith
Best of the B’Sides

The main reason to buy this set are the first two albums, BBC Archives and Beast Over Hammersmith.  To me, the Best of the B’Sides only scratches the surface of the treasures to be found on the numerous Iron Maiden singles and EP’s.  And as loyal LeBrain readers know, I’ve talked about ’em all.

BBC Archives contains numerous goodies. It starts off with a rare four song session by an ealy version of Maiden featuring Doug Sampson (drums) and Tony Parsons (guitar). Listening to “Sanctuary” as an example, you can tell it’s a guitar player you’re not familiar with. This is Parsons’ only recording with Maiden, but “Sanctuary” was previously released on the very rare NWOBHM compilation that Lars Ulrich put together.  I love the pure fire and raw youth of these early recordings.  “Transylvania” feels very different from its album incarnation.  You can tell it’s a different drummer.  And of course since it is the BBC, they are expertly recorded.

From there it’s a scorching ’82 set with Dickinson at Reading. Then back to 1980 for a Di’Anno Reading set, and finally to 1988 for a Seventh Tour of a Seventh Tour (Donington) recording. All of these are pure smoke and it’s great to hear Bruce in peak voice. Unfortunately, on this album alone, you will hear “Iron Maiden” four times!  It is what it is.  You wouldn’t want them to leave any tracks out, would you?

Next disc has the ’82 Hammersmith show. A couple tracks from these were issued as B-sides on the “Run To The Hills” single from Rock In Rio. Anyway, like the BBC discs, this is pure smoke. It is a pleasure to finally have a full concert with Clive Burr on drums and Bruce in top form. Of course you will hear “Iron Maiden” and numerous others again. With a box set of this nature it’s inevitable. If you’re a Maiden fan, you don’t care.  Do you?

Finally, the B’Sides.  Everything here has been made available before on singles.  There is nothing truly “unreleased” here as far as Maiden goes. There’s also nothing that is previously unreleased on CD unfortunately, like Maiden Japan or “I Live My Way” from the “Man On The Edge” 12″ single. For me, these discs are more just a “best of”. There are some cool tracks here such as the Montrose cover “I’ve Got The Fire”. (Maiden chose Dickinson’s version rather than Di’Anno’s, which is fine.) Other highlights include the pop metal goodness of “That Girl” and “Reach Out”, as well as originals such as “Burning Ambition” and “Invasion”. The covers that Maiden selects are mostly obscure enough (Nektar? Marshall Fury?) that they may as well be originals.

Then you get some of Maiden’s little-known jokey material: “Sheriff of Huddersfield” for example. I’m not sure how well it works as an overall listen. I prefer the singles in their original context, personally. As I mentioned, this is far from a complete set, and you can argue all you like for what you would have included. Certainly you can make solid arguments in favour of the Thin Lizzy cover “Massacre” or the rare “I Live My Way”.

Each CD jewel case features its own extensive booklet with photos, Derek Riggs cover art, and liner notes, with the exception of Beast Over Hammersmith. That one contains a booklet which is a reproduction of the original tour programme! Works for me! Otherwise, there is no book for the box set itself.

What you do get includes a neat scroll with the Iron Maiden family tree on it, wrapped inside a metal ring. (I’m sure this family tree is loaded with errors like the previous one included inside A Real Dead One, I’ve never bothered to check.) You also get this cool shot glass with Eddie’s face in the bottom. A cool treat. The box itself is a shiny tin masterpiece. It snaps shut securely and it is very detailed and cool looking.

What are you willing to pay for this set? That’s entirely up to you, but if you don’t have it, expect to pay through the teeth. Personally, to me it’s all about the music. Decide how much you’re willing to pay for approximately four discs of previously unreleased Maiden and purchase accordingly.

For me? 4/5 stars!