paul di’anno

GUEST REVIEW: Iron Maiden – 01/22/1981 Beat Club

By Harrison Kopp

IRON MAIDEN – 01/22/1981 Beat Club (Video)

Good day everybody; Harrison here with a public service announcement/review. You see, on the 20th of September 2018, something amazing happened. As part of their endeavours to digitise their archives, the Beat Club (a poor man’s Rockpalast), surreptitiously uploaded a video to YouTube. But this was no ordinary video. It was a video of an Iron Maiden show. As Iron Maiden are renowned for their stinginess with archive material and reissues [1], this upload was met with celebrations across cyberspace for those in the know. And for those not in the know, here is this review of the show to bring it to your attention.  [The video can be found at bottom — LeBrain]

As you will be able to tell, this show falls in the Di’Anno era, of which the only official video release was the six song “Live at the Rainbow” from 1980, which left fans clamouring for more. (Yes, I am aware of the 1980 show on Disc 2 of The Early Days but given its status as a curiosity due to its terrible quality, I’m ignoring it for the purpose of this review). As a side note, while the original six-and-a-half song broadcast of this show has been available as a bootleg for quite a while, this is the full twelve song show (and a little more), without the visual effects of a degrading VHS either. Unfortunately, the audio and video are just ever so slightly out of sync.

We kick things off rather characteristically with the taped “The Ides of March” heralding the band’s arrival onstage and it’s instantly clear, that this is going to be so much better visually than Live at the Rainbow. While yes, the Iron Maiden stage set of the Rainbow is not present, neither is the tape hiss of that show, which, rather obviously, leads to a much better sounding show. That’s not all. The atmospheric theatre lighting of the Rainbow is also gone, having been replaced by the ever-present TV studio lighting. While it does break the immersion a little, the net result is a picture that despite being only 480p, puts virtually every other video from that era (and some after it too [2]) to shame. It really does look fantastic for its age. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. The band have the performance to back it up too. [3]

The performance commences rather uncharacteristically with “Prowler” following “The Ides…” instead of the quintessential “Ides of March/Wrathchild” combo, although this was well known as “Prowler” opened the original broadcast as well. With Paul Di’Anno and Clive Burr both in fine form, “Prowler” doesn’t get much better than this.

Next up however, is something that did not feature on the original broadcast nor features on any Maiden video since: one of my favourite songs from the debut, “Charlotte the Harlot”. It becomes clear here, as the band kick the energy up to 11, of the great hindrance that Wil Malone’s production on the debut was. Steve Harris is right. It didn’t even begin to capture their ferocity live. Thankfully this mix rectifies that error, and this song is a definite highlight of the show, no mean feat in a Maiden performance. Another broadcast song, “Wrathchild” follows on, with the honour of being the first song of the show from their then unreleased second album. An awesome rendition of the enduring Di’Anno era classic, there’s not much else you can say about any of Maiden’s performances of this song.

On the other hand, there is much to say about the performance of “Remember Tomorrow”, except, not much of it has to do with “Remember Tomorrow”. During the second verse there’s a most interesting sound coming through: the sound of a technical failure, and the band stop playing soon after, having a beer and mucking around with their guitars as the problem is fixed. I’m so glad they left this interlude in. It shows a little bit behind the scenes and is a nice deviation from the main stuff, one that is not often shown, even on these full show sorts of things. Eventually someone decides to stop using up tape, and we cut to the start of the second go at “Remember Tomorrow”, which is done by the numbers in spectacular Maiden fashion.

With things definitely back on track the band plough into “Transylvania”. When it comes to instrumentals, Maiden really knocks it out of the park, and I do wish they’d done more. This performance is no exception, although I do think I might prefer “Genghis Khan” from Killers. Now, despite being one of their few singles at the time, “Running Free” didn’t make it onto Live at the Rainbow. This travesty thankfully does not reoccur here, and while Live After Death boasts the ultimate “Running Free”, Di’Anno and co. are no slouches and that’s reflected in probably one of this line-up’s best performances of the song.

Another Killers song, “Innocent Exile” is next. It’s done well, and as this is before the era of the twig-snapping bass tone, you get a nice full little bass workout from ‘Arry as the intro. [4] “Sanctuary” comes next. It’s one of my least favourite Di’Anno era songs and I fully believed it outstayed its welcome on subsequent tours. It’s not the best rendition either: Di’Anno mixes some lyrics up and the solos are not up to the usual standard.

Now here’s something interesting though: “Killers”. This show was recorded only 11 days before that release of Killers, yet this version of “Killers” is the most experimental I’ve ever heard it. The intro and the guitar harmonies have a spacey feel to them and there’s even the changing up the lyrics for a couple lines. Di’Anno’s screams being mostly absent for most of the intro only accentuate this experimental vibe. It’s nice to have a good quality video now of the album lyrics (most of them anyway).

“Another Life” is the next song, one that was fade-cut halfway as the credits rolled on the original broadcast. Now it’s here in all its glory: a good, if perhaps almost filler song from Killers. It’s a fiery rendition, but it suffers from “If you’ve heard it once you’ve heard it three times”. The drum solo is sadly but expectedly skipped on this show, pushing this good, if unspectacular song into the background.

This slight lull in awesomeness is immediately rectified with “Phantom of the Opera”. The original Iron Maiden epic, it was played at breakneck pace at the Rainbow show and it’s not much slower here, a slight shame because “Phantom of the Opera” is one of the few songs I think isn’t better when done faster. That being said, it’s still a chunk of pure awesome no matter how you slice it.

Of course, now it wouldn’t be an Iron Maiden show without “Iron Maiden” and it wouldn’t be an awesome rendition of the song without Paul Di’Anno. [5] The end of the show is signalled in spectacular fashion, with the ever-reliable Eddie making an appearance to send off the show in style. Except that it’s not the end yet. They were recording for TV after all, so the band semi-encore with another rendition of “Sanctuary” to replace the muffed version from before. And then it’s over. One hour’s worth of early classics and deep cuts by the best band on earth. [6]

Watch now or else.

4.5/5 stars (-0.25 for audio/visual sync issues, -0.25 for lack of Di’Anno screams here and there)

Tracks: – Intro/”Ides of march” – “Prowler” – “Sanctuary” – “Phantom of the Opera” – “Iron Maiden” – “Wrathchild” – “Innocent Exile” – “Sanctuary” – “Another Life”

 

[1] This year is the 20th anniversary of the 1998 remasters.

 

[2] The 1983 live album and video Alchemy by Dire Straits is a prime example of this. It has terrible lighting, being way too dark most of the time. But then again, most landmark live albums don’t have video components anyway, so we should be grateful to have any sort of video of Alchemy in the first place. Although when it comes to picture quality verse age, you can’t beat Deep Purples Granada 1970 performance.

 

[3] Don’t even get me started on the video of The Rolling Stone’s Live at the LA Forum 1975. Complete waste of valuable high-quality film.

 

[4] ’Arry’s bass tone on Maiden England ’88 is a thing of beauty. (Actually no, it really isn’t)

 

[5] The only Dickinson rendition of this song I think is truly awesome is the Beast Over Hammersmith one.

 

[6] Sorry LeBrain.

 

 

 

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REVIEW: Iron Maiden – Another Live (1981 bootleg)

IRON MAIDEN – Another Live (1981 recording, 1990 CD release by Metal Memory)

Maiden Japan is legendary.  It is a crucial EP for all Iron Maiden fans, but also a good solid find for any metal fan in general.  It was recorded May 23 1981 in Nagoya Japan.   The live bootleg that we are looking at today also claims to be from that same show.  That claim appears to be bogus.  An A/B test on the track “Remember Tomorrow” reveals they are definitely not the same vocal performance.  Maybe this CD is taken from a show on the same tour, such as Osaka or Tokyo.

Regardless of the whens and wherefores, Another Live presents a rare treat indeed, a live CD featuring Paul DiAnno on lead vocals.  It is the Killers lineup:  Paul, Steve Harris, Dave Murray, Adrian Smith and Clive Burr.  A young Iron Maiden just before hitting the crest of their wave…there isn’t much out there officially released besides Maiden Japan.  There are a number of tracks on the rare and expensive box set Eddie’s Archive, and a handful B-sides.  For that reason, if you stumble upon Another Live, you may as well go for it!

The audio is surprisingly great for a boot, almost official quality, except scratchy in some places.  It might be a rip from a previous vinyl edition.  Unfortunately the set (wherever it was) has a few songs chopped out for time, and therefore you’re missing some of the best.  “Running Free”, “Prowler” and “Phantom of the Opera” would have been nice to have.  On the other hand there is the track “Another Life”.  You will not find any official live versions of it with Paul singing.  The only officially released ones have Bruce:  one from Beast Over Hammersmith and one from “The Trooper” 2005 7″ single.  Then we have “Twilight Zone” which you won’t find in live audio form anywhere officially.  There is definite value here in the way of rarer songs.

The performance is stellar.  A serious highlight is Dave Murray’s guitar solo on “Strange World”.  Each member has the energy of a teenager and they just blast through.  The only speedbumps really are the awkward edits between songs.  They are not done well and it’s too bad because the CD is only 51 minutes.  However if Another Live did come from an earlier vinyl bootleg, that would explain the shorter running time.

Get it if you find it.  You may not play it often, but your Maiden collection will be that much cooler.

3.5/5 stars

 

REVIEW: Iron Maiden – Somewhere Back In Time (2008)

Welcome back.  This is part 41 of my series of Iron Maiden reviews!  As mentioned when we talked about The Essential Iron Maiden, we are now in the compilation years.  I won’t spend as much time on these hits discs as I did studio albums.

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IRON MAIDEN – Somewhere Back In Time (2008)

Once again, Maiden have geared a hits disc to the newbies who have never bought anything by the band before.  The overall concept was cool.  As they did on the Eddie Rips Up the World tour, Maiden chose to take a look somewhere back in time, and only play songs from a certain era.  This time, the band brought back the Powerslave imagery, and chose only to play songs up to Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (and cheating by also playing “Fear of the Dark”.

I personally felt this was a very smart move, since many fans (whiners) had complained that on the A Matter of Life and Death tour, the band had played that entire album.  You want oldies?  Well now you got them so stop yer whinin’.

To promote the tour, Maiden issued this Somewhere Back In Time disc.  All songs feature Bruce Dickinson on lead vocals, so that means live versions where the old Di’Anno material is concerned.  Like it or not, you can at least understand Maiden trying to promote the singer that the newbies were going to be seeing live.

I loved the touch of kicking off the album with “Churchill’s Speech” as I don’t think they have ever devised a better way to open a Maiden concert.  Then, into the Live After Death version of “Aces High”.  It seemed an odd choice for opening a hits album.  From there, you’re into a non-stop onslaught of Maiden classics.  “Two Minutes”, “The Trooper”, “Wasted Years”, even “Children of the Damned” and “Phantom of the Opera”!  I can’t find too much fault with the overall track selection, or sequence.  Those who dislike live versions are getting four:  three Di’Anno songs, plus “Aces High”.

Sure, you could argue for certain inclusions.  “Where Eagles Dare” or “Heaven Can Wait”, perhaps?  “The Clairvoyant” is also missing.  These are nitpicks.

The album also comes with full lyrics, descriptive liner notes, and even a cool poster with new artwork on it.  The poster I have is for the Canadian tour — don’t know if other countries got their own posters, or none at all?  It’s hard to fit the poster back into the jewel case once opened.

Good value for new Maiden fans, old fans only need to own if they’re looking for “the complete collection”.  But even for new fans, this is really only a starter.  Eventually you should really get the albums.

2.5/5 stars

REVIEW: Iron Maiden – The Essential (2005)

Part 38 of my series of Iron Maiden reviews!

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IRON MAIDEN – The Essential (2005)

…And the era of Maiden compilations had begun.  And I did buy them all.

The Essential is a series.  I have The Essential Johnny Cash as well as others.   So, this one was not put together by the band.  There’s no Eddie on the cover, no exclusive content, no liner notes from Rod Smallwood nor Steve Harris.  Instead there are liner notes from Lonn M. Friend of RIP Magazine.  They’re aimed at newbies, but at least all songs get full musician and writing credits.

Much like 1996’s Best of the Beast, the tracks are reverse-chronological.  This time, it works better than on Best of the Beast.  The cool thing is that this means you start with the incredible epic “Passchendale” from Dance of Death.  What an opening.  Every album (studio and live) is visited, including four Blaze Bayley tracks.

Everybody bitches about what tracks should have been left off, and which should have been included.  Here’s mine:

1. I would have included no Blaze tracks, and instead included live versions of Bruce singing them.

2. Those are the only times I would have included live tracks.

3. I could do without “Holy Smoke” and “Bring Your Daughter”.  Give me “Tailgunner” instead.

4. Give me “Stranger In A Strange Land” instead of “Heaven Can Wait”.

But that’s about it.  You get a healthy mix of hits along with great album cuts such as “Wrathchild”, “Killers”, and glory be, “Phantom of the Opera”!  Those, plus “Passchendale”, make this a passable greatest hits disc.

Tracklist is below, but only you can decide if this one’s worth buying.  I bought it for “the collection”.  As far as a complete career-spanning set goes, this is about as close as it got without having to buy multiple sets.  However it’s now out of print, so the point is moot.

3/5 stars

Disc: 1
1. Paschendale
2. Rainmaker
3. The Wicker Man
4. Brave New World
5. Futureal
6. The Clansman
7. Sign Of The Cross
8. Man On The Edge
9. Be Quick Or Be Dead
10. Fear Of The Dark
11. Holy Smoke
12. Bring Your Daughter..To The Slaughter
13. The Clairvoyant
Disc: 2
1. The Evil That Men Do
2. Wasted Years
3. Heaven Can Wait
4. 2 Minutes To Midnight
5. Aces High
6. Flight Of Icarus
7. The Trooper
8. The Number Of The Beast
9. Run To The Hills
10. Wrathchild
11. Killers
12. Phantom Of The Opera
13. Running Free (Live)
14. Iron Maiden (Live)

REVIEW: Iron Maiden – “The Number of the Beast” (2005 single) / The Early Days (DVD)

Part 34 of my series of Iron Maiden reviews!

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IRON MAIDEN – “The Number of the Beast” (2005 CD/vinyl single)

I’ve decided, much like my idol Martin Popoff, to stick pretty much to audio releases when it comes to this series of Maiden reviews.  To get into video just opens a big can of worms that I don’t think I can handle.  However worth mentioning is the excellent Maiden DVD The Early Days.

SAM_1611A two-disc set, The Early Days combines an excellent documentary with lots of rare early Maiden footage featuring Di’Anno and Dickinson.  Live At The Rainbow, Beast Over Hammersmith (audio available on Eddie’s Archive), Live In Dortmund, and Live at the Ruskin Arms are all a part of this, as well as some videos and Top of the Pops performances.  The documentary chronicles the early days and features interviews with ex members Paul Di’Anno, Clive Burr, Dennis Stratton, Dave Sullivan, Terry Rance, Doug Sampson, Ron “Rebel” Matthews, Terry Wapram and Bob Sawyer.  There are very few members missing from this documentary; most notably singers Paul Day and Den Wilcock, and drummer Thunderstick.

The following year, Maiden re-released “The Number of the Beast” as a CD single, with an advertisement promoting The Early Days on the back.   Therefore I’ve decided to consider this single as promotional to The Early Days, which also contains the video for “Beast”.

The tracklisting is as follows:

  1. “The Number of the Beast” (original version)
  2. “The Number of the Beast” (live at Brixton ’02)
  3. “Hallowed Be That Name” (live at Brixton ’02)

plus videos:

  1. “The Number of the Beast” (Camp Chaos version — essentially has added animations)
  2. “The Number of the Beast” (live at Brixton ’02)

I also have a red vinyl 7″ single with a lovely poster.  This one just contains the two versions of “Beast”.

These live tracks being ’02, they featuring the six-man lineup of Steve Harris, Bruce Dickinson, Dave Murray, Janick Gers, Adrian Smith, and Nicko McBrain.

So what can I say as far as an actual review goes?  Well, it’s Maiden live in ’02, two of their all time best tracks.  “Hallowed” in particular smokes with fiery solos by Dave and Janick.  Janick simply burns up the fretboard with the kind of speedy fingerwork that the fans love him for.  Bruce is in top voice.

As a nice little extra bonus single for the fans, I have no complaints.

5/5 stars

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!

REVIEW: Iron Maiden – “Virus” (1996 single) / Metal For Muthas (1979)

Part 23 of my series of Iron Maiden reviews!  Continuing where we left off with Best of the Beast, we’re also taking a glance back to the past…

IRON MAIDEN – “Virus” (1996 two-part CD singles)

Last time, I was talking about Maiden’s first-ever greatest hits set, Best of the Beast.  But there was also the single to be had, “Virus”.

Much like other UK singles, “Virus” was released in two parts each with its own B-sides and cover art.  If you bought the first, you also got a box with 5 postcards and space to store the second disc.

The first disc contained the (unadvertized) single edit version of “Virus”.  I can happily live without the slow, boring, goes-nowhere first three minutes of that song.  At least the single edit only has the up-tempo part of the song.  I recall when the single came out, a few of us had grumbled that Maiden seemed to be losing it…

The B-sides on this first single were the previously released covers, “My Generation” and “Doctor Doctor”.  You could get these tracks on the previous single, “Lord of the Flies” from The X Factor.  Having said that, these are great versions, among the best covers Maiden have ever recorded in this writer’s opinion.  “My Generation” is of course the Who classic.  Maiden breathe their original punky sensibilities into this one, and it rocks like nothing that actually made it onto The X Factor!  “Doctor Doctor” is a beefed up version of the classic UFO song, and my preferred version.

The second disc was the really, really special one.  It had the album version of “Virus” (all bloody 6:15 of it, ugh) but it also has the ultra rare “Sanctuary” and “Wrathchild” from the 1979 compilation album, Metal For Muthas! When I had first picked up the single for “Virus”, I didn’t even know these recordings existed.  Collectors rejoice!  These tracks were previously unavailable anywhere else but Metal For Muthas, and this is the first CD release.

“Sanctuary” and “Wrathchild” both feature Paul Di’Anno on vocals, and are from the short-lived Maiden lineup of Di’Anno, Steve Harris, Dave Murray, Tony Parsons, and Doug Sampson.  This represents one of Maiden’s earliest recordings.  There are more from this lineup, but we’re not going to talk about those for a while yet…

Do I need to mention that these two tracks are just pure smoke of the early-Maiden variety?

A quick glance at Wikipedia reveals that there is a 12″ single release of “Virus” as well, this one with the two missing Soundhouse Tapes tracks that weren’t on the Best of the Beast CD.  Adding to “want” list!

I found the cover art of the “Virus” single to be a little lacklustre, particularly the one in the petri dish.  Like, really?  It didn’t scream to be made into a cool poster for my wall.  There were some cooler things on the postcards including one by Derek Riggs.

4/5 stars

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

BOOK REVIEW: Paul Di’Anno – The Beast (2010)

Part 10 of my series of Iron Maiden reviews!  Although this book came out in 2010, I decided to talk about Paul Di’Anno during the 1987 period, when Paul released his Paul Di’Anno’s Battlezone album, Children of Madness.  This was the first time I heard any of Paul’s post-Maiden music.

PAUL DI’ANNO – The Beast (2010 John Black Publishing)

Paul Di’Anno, when not in jail for assault or disability fraud, is in a state of perpetual arrested development.  Scattered among the cool rock stories about touring with Kiss and rocking the stage aside Steve Harris, Di’Anno is like a little boy who will never learn his lesson.  Girlfriend after girlfriend, fight after fight, arrest after arrest, Di’Anno never seems to grow up.  As if an apology makes up for it, he says he is “deeply ashamed of” a drunken incident when he repeatedly pummeled a woman half his size in the face.  Di’Anno states that ,”if I could turn back the clock, I would,” but he also admits that it wasn’t the first time it happened.

Paul continues to snort and drink everything that passes his way, while bedding every “bird” and smashing every bloke that gets in his way.  In the meantime, there’s this story in the background about this band he was in called Iron Maiden.  He talks about singing Deep Purple’s “Dealer” and “All Right Now” by Free at his audition.  He describes the feeling of helping to build this band, and it sounds like being in the center of a tornado.  It doesn’t take long for fame to have its effect in a negative way.

Only two albums in, Paul sheds some light on his departure.  There were musical differences as he did not like the polished, more progressive direction that the band was seeking.  His heart was no longer in it, and he knew it.  This seems to have manifested itself in bad behaviour, and deteriorating relationships.  After a final gig in Copenhagen, Paul handed in his resignation.  While he has nothing bad to say about the guy who replaced him, he has special praise for Adrian Smith, “the best all around guitarist that Maiden have had.”

I just wish this book was more about the music and less about the drinking, drugs, and fighting.  It doesn’t take too long to realize that Paul Di’Anno isn’t much for self-improvement.  He tells his story with several winks and smiles, and lots of laughs too.  At this same time this there’s dark undercurrent of violence and underachievement.

The Beast isn’t what I’d call an inspiring read, but it’s raw and real.  The man has loads of stories.  Whether they’re your cup of tea is really up to you!

2.5/5 stars