no prayer for the dying

REVIEW: Iron Maiden – Best of the Beast (1996 2 CD edition)

Part 22 of my series of Iron Maiden reviews!

IRON MAIDEN – Best of the Beast (1996)

I’m not sure what prompted Iron Maiden to put out their first greatest hits disc in 1996, but at least they did it in style.  Originally available as a limited edition 2 CD book set, it was pretty extravagant packaging for the time.   My only beef is by the nature of such packaging, the paper sleeves will always scratch your discs, 100% of the time.

This album was also available in a standard edition single disc, with the songs in a different running order.  I don’t have that one so I’m not going to talk aboot it.

The 2 disc version, perhaps to emphasize that Blaze Bayley is the current Maiden vocalist, starts at the present and then rewinds all the way back to the beginning, closing with The Soundhouse Tapes!  An interesting approach indeed.  As a listening experience I’m not sure that it works that well.

Since we’re starting at the present, the album kicks off with a new song.  “Virus” is 6:30 of same-old same-old X Factor Maiden, but not as good as anything on that album.   It drags and drags for three minutes before finally kicking into gear, but it is otherwise repetitive and boring until then.  Lyrically, it is another attack on the sicknesses in society, much like “Be Quick Or Be Dead” and “Justice of the Peace” were.

Then back in time one year, to “Sign of the Cross”, the dramatic 11 minute epic from The X Factor, as well as “Man on the Edge”.  (I would have preferred “Lord of the Flies” to “Man on the Edge”, but perhaps “Man” was the bigger single of the two.)

To bridge into the Fear of the Dark album, a new live version of “Afraid To Shoot Strangers” is featured, with Blaze Bayley singing.  It’s a good live version, but it’s immediately obvious that Blaze is no Bruce.

Bruce takes over on the next track, “Be Quick Or Be Dead”, and we’re back in the saddle.  Singles (including the popular live version of “Fear of the Dark”) and album tracks are counted down from 1993 to 1986’s Somewhere In Time album, ending disc 1 with “Wasted Years”, a great closer.  My beef here:  I would have preferred the single “Stranger In A Strange Land” to the album track “Heaven Can Wait” (but I know the Heavy Metal OverloRd doesn’t agree with me!)

Disc 2 is the glory years, if you will, everything from Live After Death to the beginning.  It begins with the epic “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, a ballsy move for a greatest hits album, and the live version at that.  Chasing it is the live single version of “Running Free”.  Then we count them down, all the singles from Powerslave to “Run To The Hills”, plus “Where Eagles Dare” and  “Hallowed Be Thy Name” thrown in for good measure.

Then it’s the Di’Anno years, which are given an unfortunately brief expose.  “Wrathchild”, from Killers  is one of the best songs from that era, but the only included track from that album.  Maiden’s first epic, “Phantom of the Opera” and the single “Sanctuary” represent the debut Iron Maiden.  Finally, an unreleased track from The Soundhouse Tapes sessions (“Strange World”), and the rare Soundhouse version of “Iron Maiden” close the set.  To read my review of The Soundhouse Tapes and these tracks, click here.

There was also a 4 LP vinyl edition available, with 7 extra tracks:  “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son”,  “The Prisoner”, “Killers”, “Remember Tomorrow”, an exclusive live version of “Revelations” from the Piece of Mind tour, plus the final two songs from The Soundhouse Tapes, “Prowler” and “Invasion”. You can read a story about the 4 LP edition by clicking here.

And there you have it, Maiden’s first greatest hits set, with lots of the hits and plenty of rarities thrown in for the collectors.  I confess that I don’t listen to it often, and this time for this review was the first time in roughly two years.

The cover art was once again by Derek Riggs, doing a sort of mash-up of his (and nobody else’s) Eddie’s.  It’s a suitably glorious piece of art for such a monument of metal.  The inside of the book is loaded with concert dates, lyrics, liner notes, and chart positions, as well as more Eddie’s and photos!

I still want to talk about the single, “Virus”, but I think that it should get an article of its own.  Check back soon for that!

Curiosity: the cover features an ad for the never-to-be Iron Maiden video game, Melt!  Maiden did eventually release a video game, but we’re not going there yet….

For the 2 CD edition of Best of the Beast:

4/5 stars


VIDEO REVIEW: Iron Maiden – “Bring Your Daughter…To The Slaughter” etched 7″ single!

Part 13.5 of my series of Iron Maiden reviews!(?)  I just dug up this single from my collection, so this one actually falls right after No Prayer For The Dying!

IRON MAIDEN  – “Bring Your Daughter…To The Slaughter” (1990, etched 7″ single)

4/5 stars

REVIEW: Iron Maiden – Fear of the Dark (1992, 1996 bonus disc)

Part 15 of my series of Iron Maiden reviews!

IRON MAIDEN – Fear of the Dark (1992, 1996 bonus disc)

I remember staying up late one night, listening to Q107, waiting to hear the new Maiden track.  They promised it, and after airing “Burn” by Deep Purple, they debuted “Be Quick Or Be Dead”.

Nice riff, I said.  The song took a while to grow on me, because Bruce was still growling a bit too much for my taste.  If there was one thing I disliked about Maiden’s previous, No Prayer for the Dying, it was Bruce’s growl.  I’d rather hear him sing.  He was growling the verses, and singing the choruses.  And Nicko was doing some serious steppin’!  It was the Maiden writing debut of Janick Gers (with Bruce), and it was a rant on big business.  Maiden were the 99% in 1992!  I thought it was one of the best songs from the new album, Fear of the Dark.

The second track, “From Here To Eternity” featured the return of Charlotte!  Harris wrote this one alone, and it too was a single.  It has a shout-along chorus, but too much rinky-dink bass way up high in the mix.  This song wouldn’t make my road tape, I never particularly cared for it.

Much, much better is “Afraid To Shoot Strangers”.  Steve wrote this one for the men and women who served in the Gulf War, who as Bruce said, “never wanted to kill anybody.”  I consider this song to be the birth of the “new” Iron Maiden.  The gentle guitar, with the melodic bass in the background, the keys…is it a ballad or an epic?  It’s both.   Then it picks up with some of the catchiest guitar parts Steve’s ever written.  There would be many many Maiden songs that followed this blueprint on albums to come, especially The X Factor.  (My friend Andy and I beat this song by a year.  In 1991 we wrote a Maiden-inspired tune called “Unleashed in the Middle East” about the Gulf War.  Fortunately, it remains unrecorded to this day.)

Did you also noticed Maiden getting more topical?  Big business…the Gulf War…it was the 90’s.

The Zeppish “Fear Is the Key” is next.  Bruce and Janick wrote this one, but again, I’m not too fond of it.  It has a great hook, and it’s technically accomplished, but Maiden and Zep don’t always mix.  I don’t think they ever played it live.  Do I hear a slide?

“Childhood’s End”, written by Steve, doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the Arthur C. Clarke novel.  It is rhythmically complex and melodic and powerful with a soaring guitar melody.  I don’t consider this one of Maiden’s greater songs in the canon, but it is one of the better songs on Fear of the Dark.

The triumphant ballad, “Wasting Love” closes side 1.  This one may have thrown people for a loop, both by the title and the music.  Maiden, singing about love?  More Scorpions sounding than Maiden, this one came from Bruce and Janick.

Maybe one day, I’ll be an honest man

Up til now I’m doing the best I can

Long roads, long days

of sunrise to sunset, sunrise to sunset

The song seems to be a reflection on infidelity on the road, but was there more between the lines?  “Maybe one day I’ll be an honest man…”

Yes, it’s a ballad, but it is not wimpy.  The guitar harmonies evoke mellow Thin Lizzy.  I think “Wasting Love” is among the three best songs on Fear of the Dark.  “Afraid to Shoot Strangers is another one, and we’ll get to the third in due time.

Side 2 opened with Steve’s “The Fugitive”.  It takes a long time to build.  It’s OK, nothing special.  Again, I doubt it was ever played live.  I don’t know if The Fugitive really needed to be made into a song, but Steve beat the movie adaptation by a year!

Bruce and Davey’s “Chains of Misery” follows.  I think it’s another OK song, again nothing special and again I doubt it was ever played live.  Nice shout-along chorus.

Another Zeppish song is next:  “The Apparition”.  Steve wrote this one with Janick.  See above comments:  OK song, never played live.  The lyrics start with promise, a ghost story perhaps, but then it turns into a series of pieces of advice from the apparition to the living.  Stuff like “You can make your own luck,” etc.  And Bruce is doing that annoying growl vocal!

Thankfully, “Judas Be My Guide” gets us out of this slump!  Ironically I always found this one to sound kind of Priest-like!  I like this tune.  Bruce wrote it with Davey, and to me this is the kind of song that Adrian Smith used to bring to the table.  Melodic, powerful, anthemic, sing-along metal.  I don’t think it was ever played live, but to me this one would have been single material.  I would have picked it over “From Here To Eternity”.

The mellow “Weekend Warrior” is one of the oddest on the album.  Bruce does his growl vocal (again!) but the song goes from acoustic section to electric section to acoustic again, and it’s quite unlike most Maiden songs.  The lyrics seem to be about football hooliganism.  I’m not sure if this was a topic that Iron Maiden needed to delve into, but there it is.

Finally, we have the Steve epic you have been waiting for:  “Fear of the Dark”.  It’s a little simple and repetitive compared to past epics, but it’s solid and has remained in the live set tour after tour after tour.  It is a fan favourite worldwide, and I think it’s great.  Although it’s simpler musically, I think in a lot of ways it’s one of Steve’s best epics.  It’s absolutely perfect live, it begs to be sung along with, and it goes from peak to valley so well!  I like big gothic opening riff.  The mellow sections, again, would serve as a blueprint for the next era of Iron Maiden.  Steve’s melodic bass, backed by quiet keys…

And that’s the album, a fat 12 songs, and although many are in the 3 minute range, there are several over 5 minutes this time.  It was a generous slice of studio music from Maiden, never before had they crammed so many songs onto a record.   It was also released on DAT, cassette, and CD.  The vinyl was a double, and very hard to find.  Vinyl was an import here in Canada:  Capitol stopped pressing vinyl here in early 1990.

As I mentioned, there are moments here that musically look into Maiden’s future.  But changes were already afoot, and in a real way, Fear of the Dark is the first album of the new Maiden.   For the first time ever, Derek Riggs’ artwork was absent.  Maiden instead chose a painting by Melvyn Grant.  Gone were the Riggs trademarks, and a lot of fans reacted negatively to the new art.  Eddie looked more Nosferatu than Eddie, and the idea of Eddie being reborn from a tree was…weird?

This was also to be Martin Birch’s final production effort.  He retired after Fear of the Dark.  Happy retirement, Martin!  What can you possibly say bad about the man who produced Machine Head?  Nothing.  I will say though that this album, recorded digitally for the first time, sounds very thin.  I think it was immediately noticeable and this was rectified on future albums.

My 1996 reissue has a bonus disc chock full of B-sides.

“Be Quick Or Be Dead” came with the piano-infused joke boogie tune, “Nodding Donkey Blues”, an ode to plus-sized ladies.  It’s actually really great fun.  “Ahh, there should be some kind of guitar solo here!” says Bruce before the piano kicks in.

Also from the same single is Montrose’s “Space Station #5” – Sammy Hagar’s first and only writing credit on an Iron Maiden disc!  Maiden of course kick this song in the nuts.  What an awesome riff.  But wait — don’t turn it off.  The hidden track “Bayswater Ain’t A Bad Place To Be” is yet another hilarious roast of manager Rod Smallwood!

Second single, “From Here To Eternity” was an oddity of sorts, one of the few Maiden singles to not feature Eddie on the cover.  It’s B-sides included a Chuck Berry cover/ode to roadie Vic Vella called “Roll Over Vic Vella”.  There were also two live tracks from the previous tour:  “Public Enema Number One”, and “No Prayer For the Dying”.  Nice to have live versions of these songs, as I doubt they were played again after that tour.

“From Here To Eternity” also supposedly featured a remixed A-side — a “Triumph Mix”.  (The name “Triumph Mix” is only printed on the disc itself and not the back cover.)  I can’t tell the difference, so don’t get excited.  I also haven’t attempted to do a detailed comparison, so if you know more than I do, please comment.

The third and final single was “Wasting Love” which unfortunately had a terribly boring music video.  It’s just too 90’s!  It had three more live tracks, all from the previous tour:  “Tailgunner”, “Holy Smoke”, and “The Assassin”.  Same comment as above:  Nice to have live versions.  But note, none of these songs are on the 1996 reissue with bonus disc!  Not one!  And this is one of the rarest of Maiden singles.  Took me a while to find a copy at a decent price.

There was one bonus included on the 2 CD edition of Fear of the Dark, in lieu of the above:  “Hooks In You”, also live from the previous tour.  Probably my most hated of all Maiden tunes.  It’s actually from a later single, and I’ll get to that when I get to that album.

This was the last of the ten Iron Maiden 2 CD reissues from 1996.

So there you have it:  Fear of the Dark.  It’s superior to No Prayer, I believe.  Both the good songs and the filler are superior.  It pointed the way to some interesting new directions, mixing light and shade, and it proved that Janick Gers was an able songwriter in Iron Maiden.  He had also begun to gel with Dave Murray as guitar player.  Yet the album also had much filler, it would have been stronger at a traditional 9 or 10 tracks.   I still have a fond place in my heart for Fear of the Dark, for it was one of many albums that helped me get through the 90’s.

But if you thought the last couple Maiden albums were controversial among fans, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

3.75/5 stars

REVIEW: Iron Maiden – No Prayer For the Dying (1990, 1996 bonus disc)

Part 13 of my series of Iron Maiden reviews!

IRON MAIDEN – No Prayer For the Dying (1990, 1996 bonus disc)

Regrouping after a six-month break, Maiden returned to writing mode a changed Beast.

The Seventh Son of a Seventh Son album was artistically rewarding but the band were eager to return to their stripped down heavy metal roots and make a live-sounding album more like Killers or The Number of the Beast, without the production values and ten minute songs that were becoming the norm.

Both Adrian Smith and Bruce Dickinson were coming off solo albums (A.S.a.P.’s Silver and Gold featuring Zak Starkey (Oasis, The Who), and Bruce’s Tattooed Millionaire).  Bruce’s was successful commercially and critically, Adrian’s less so.   Still, it came as a complete shock to the fans when it was announced that Adrian Smith had left Iron Maiden.

Or, perhaps, been nudged out.  Steve Harris was worried that Adrian was becoming unhappy, and it was especially obvious during the writing sessions for the next album.  While Steve, Dave and Bruce were contributing heavy songs, the usually prolific Adrian had nothing but a song called “Hooks In You” that he had written with Bruce.  He was clearly unhappy that Maiden were not progressing down the road pointed to by Seventh Son, and were going heavier.  Steve took him aside.

When asked how into it he was, the answer came “about 80%”.  Steve has always had a simple policy for membership in his band — you had to be into it 110%, or it wouldn’t work.  The fans wouldn’t buy it, and Steve couldn’t look them in the eye knowing somebody on stage wasn’t completely into it.  Adrian was out.

The band already knew Janick Gers, and he and Bruce had developed a successful writing partnership on his Tattooed Millionaire solo disc.  Janick was nevertheless shocked when Bruce phoned him up and asked him to learn some Iron Maiden numbers.  Janick initially said no, because he assumed Bruce was talking about his solo project, and they had already agreed to do no Maiden numbers.  When Bruce explained it wasn’t for the solo band, it was for Maiden, Janick was horrified.

Janick Gers was really the only guy I can think of that was right for Maiden, also being from the era of the NWOBHM bands (White Spirit).  He’d also been in Gillan (the incredible Magic album) and worked with Fish.  The songs for the album were already written, all Janick had to do was head over to Steve’s farm, where they were recording the album, and learn the songs.

But that’s all just background, just context.  That’s all important, especially to this album, but what is also important is the bottom line.  And the bottom line is that this is the first time Maiden turned in something that was almost universally received as a disappointment.

While some fans were clamoring for a return to basic heavy metal songs, short and bangin’ and to the point, others preferred the epic scale of Seventh Son.  And it was clear that you can’t just replace Adrian Smith.  The songs on the new album, titled No Prayer For the Dying, seemed less finished and not quite up to standard.  Not to mention Janick and Dave hadn’t had time to properly gel together, and never quite sync up on this album the way Dave did with Adrian.

The opening song “Tailgunner” is good enough though, not quite an “Aces High” but certainly adequate.  Being tailgunner might have been the worst job on the Lancaster bomber, since it didn’t have a belly gunner! (Neither did Enola Gay, tailgunner was certainly the worst job on a B-29)!  But Steve and Bruce failed to really nail it lyrically, with lines such as “nail that Fokker, kill that son, gunna blow your guts out with my gun” not living up to past Maiden historic glories.

Steve and Bruce also wrote “Holy Smoke”, the first single.  This reckless fast number showcased a manic Janick Gers solo, demonstrating how different he was from Adrian.  Where Adrian used to compose solos with beginnings, middles and endings, Janick just went for it!  Dave was also somewhere between the two approaches.  Now, without Adrian’s melodic touch, the band were moving sharply to a more live and spontaneous guitar style.

“Holy Smoke” is about TV preachers, and while they always make a good target in heavy metal songs (I prefer Ozzy’s “Miracle Man”) this one also fails to excite.  As a song it doesn’t have much in terms of melody.  On No Prayer, Bruce is shouting as often as he’s singing, and with the songs’ new emphasis on raw power, there’s less memorable melody to go around.  Janick’s manic gonzo solo does fit the vibe of the song!

The title track is third, a number that tries to be an epic in under 5 minutes.  It does indeed have all of the trademark qualities of a Maiden epic except the length:  Multiple parts, multiple tempos, soul-searching Steve lyrics, and ample anthemic guitar melody.  Yet the song fails to nail it home like, say, “Hallowed Be Thy Name” did.

Better is the badly titled “Public Enema Number One”.  This Dickinson/Murray rocker is riffy, straightforward with some decent melodic bits.  But again Bruce is hoarsely shouting the verses, and the song careens from section to section that don’t feel like they quite all fit together probably.  Like other songs on No Prayer, the song sounds slightly unfinished.

And better again is “Fates Warning”, this time written by Steve and Dave.  The opening soft guitar part is a nice change of pace, and a great example of Dave Murray’s tremendous feel.  Perhaps in a past life he was a bluesman.  Nicko then kicks the song into gear while Steve’s lyrics question the seemingly random nature of life and death.  In the middle, is an old-school dual Maiden guitar lead, before Dave nails another perfect one of his own.

Side two begins with the stuttery “The Assassin”.  Written solo by Steve, it is rhythmically complex as it is propelled forward.  It has a fairly decent chorus but it doesn’t quite resolve itself nicely.  Some of the guitar and bass melodies are reminiscent of “To Tame A Land” from Piece of Mind.

This is followed by the superior “Run Silent Run Deep”  Submarine warfare is a good topic for a Maiden song, and the song chugs forward like those big diesel engines.  This is one of the better songs on No Prayer.  Steve and Bruce wrote it together, and Nicko’s precise drum fills accent the song perfectly.

Next is the worst song on the album:  Bruce and Adrian’s “Hooks In You”.  Lyrically this is one of the worst things ever on a Maiden album. Judging by the opening line, “Got the keys to view at number 22,” it sounds like Charlotte is back to her old tricks.  Unfortunately, the band subjected people to this song live.  I’ll admit it’s got a great little riff, but Bruce’s shout-growl vocals, lack of melody, and lack of any lyrical intelligence just sinks this one.

And then the baffling #1 single, “Bring Your Daughter…to the Slaughter”.  This Bruce song is actually an outtake from his solo project.  He recorded and released the original version with Janick Gers on the soundtrack to A Nightmare on Elm Street 5.  I seem to remember that soundtrack being panned as “the worst soundtrack of all time” at one point.  Steve heard the song, went nuts, and said, “Don’t put it on your solo album:  I want to save this one for Maiden.”

Somehow, Steve was right, as it went straight to #1 in the UK, the first and only time this has happened to Iron Maiden.  I don’t get it.  I don’t get what people like about this song.

“Mother Russia” ends the album on a sour note.  Lyrically simple, musically pretty good, “Mother Russia” is certainly not up to the standards of past Maiden album closers.  Although it tries to be an epic along the lines of “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” (featuring a similar keyboard section in the middle), it’s just not as great as past epics.  At five and a half minutes, “Mother Russia” is the longest song on No Prayer.  It is made up of excellent components; I like the melody and the solos big time, but it’s just…not comparable in quality.

Nicko McBrain said on MuchMusic that No Prayer was “the best Iron Maiden yet.”  Steve said that the album’s biggest problem is that it didn’t sound live enough without an audience track.  I disagree with both.  I think the album has an abnormally high quantity of unfinished songs and filler.

Even the cover art was substandard.  To go with the live, stripped down sound, Riggs too stripped his artwork of the symbolism and fantasy.  Instead, Eddie goes for the throat of a groundskeeper as he emerges (once again) from the grave.  All hints to continuity are gone, as Eddie’s lost his lobotomy scar, cybernetic implants, and that bolt that kept his skull on!  He even has his hair back.  I guess somebody wasn’t happy with the artwork, because it was heavily tweaked for the 1998 remaster, repainting much of it and removing the groundskeeper.

The B-sides to the first single, “Holy Smoke” were the excellent “All In Your Mind” (a cover from somebody called Stray) and Golden Earring’s “Kill Me Ce Soir”.  Both songs are pretty damn good.  I prefer both to some of the album tracks!

“Bring Your Daughter” had two of its own B-sides:  “Communication Breakdown” and “I’m A Mover”.  Maiden tackle Led Zeppelin and Free less successfully than they did they other two B-sides.  “I’m A Mover” ain’t bad as it allows Maiden to get into a groove they normally wouldn’t, and Bruce seems to have fun with the vocal.

3.5/5 stars

Part 116: IRON MAIDEN’s Gonna Get Ya…No Matter How Far! (The first 10, in 2 CD picture discs!)

Alright folks, strap yourselves in and get ready for the ride.  After the positive feedback from my series of Kiss reviews, I’ve decided to go with popular demand and do all the Iron Maiden next.  We’re going to talk about every studio album, every live album, every compilation, and every rarity that I have access to.  But why not start off with a Record Store Tale?  Here’s how I acquired rare editions of the crucial first 10 albums….


IRON MAIDEN’s Gonna Get Ya…No Matter How Far!

My love of Maiden is well documented.  The very first blog here at LeBrain’s Record Store Tales, Part 1, was called “Run To The Hills”. It describes the first time I ever heard the band.  I don’t need to explain to you why I love Iron Maiden.  If you’re reading this, chances are that you already understand.  Iron Maiden are more than just a band.  They are a passion.  With a band like Maiden, the fans strive to own everything.

The setting:  Early 1996, when we still carried new CD stock.  One of our suppliers dropped off a brand new catalogue.  Inside, was a new listing.  An exciting new listing!

Iron Maiden were reissuing their first 10 albums in 2 CD editions, with a bonus disc of B-sides!  Picture discs!  Iron Maiden, Killers, The Number of the Beast, Peace of Mind, Powerslave, Live After Death, Somewhere In Time, Seventh Son, No Prayer, and Fear of the Dark!  Knowing that Maiden usually released a minimum of two singles per album, with a minimum of 2 B-sides per single, this was a MUST for me.  I didn’t have all the Maiden singles.  Not even close.  Some of these songs, like “Burning Ambition” and “Invasion”, I’d never even heard before!  Now I was going to have the chance to own them on CD.

The discs were expensive, even with my staff discount.  But there was absolutely no way I was missing these.  As an added incentive, I didn’t even own all the Maiden albums on CD yet.  Most of these albums I still only owned on cassette or vinyl!  So really, it was a win-win situation.  Not only was I getting the B-sides, but I was also getting all the Maiden albums on CD with a minimum of overlap with my existing collection.  Plus, these were picture discs with Derek Riggs’ singles artwork.  Picture discs were something of a novelty at the time.  Today, most CDs are picture discs and nobody cares if they are.

My boss warned me:  “If you order these, you better make sure you buy them all.”  There was absolutely no question of that, I’m surprised he even mentioned it, knowing what a collector I am.  It’s too bad we didn’t order more, for stock.  The rarity of these discs has shown that we could have sold them quickly, or better yet, hung onto them for a couple years and jacked up the price once they were out of print.

The supplier we were ordering from, the name of which escapes me, was a small-time supplier, and usually couldn’t get everything we ordered.  They had about a 50% success rate.  Yet he listed all these European imports that our main supplier usually shied away from.  The Maiden reissues were all from Europe.  I crossed my fingers.  I wanted all 10.  Not “some”, but all!  “Some” would not do it!

A week later, the first five Maidens arrived!  The following week, another chunk of Maiden shipped!  They only failed to get me one disc: Fear of the Dark.  Resolving to get it somehow, it turns out I didn’t need to worry about it.  Two weeks later, even that one arrived.  Total expenditure:  About $300 with taxes!  I had all 10.  My Maiden B-side collection:  almost complete!  [Note:  When I go through the Maiden reviews, we’ll cover all the B-sides, including songs that are not on these deluxe editions.]

I settled in for some long, long nights of listening.  I made a compilation tape of all the B-sides that I had (including up to the current album, The X Factor), and it ended up being 3 tapes, 100 minute cassettes, which I still have.  To knock so many songs off my wishlist in one fell swoop like this was the kind of thing I lived for.  This was the perk of working in a record store.  What a score!  Today, I don’t know anybody else who has the full set of 10.

Be sure to check back in the coming days and weeks for all the reviews, starting with The Soundhouse Tapes, to the present day…