Seventh Tour of a Seventh Tour

REVIEW: Iron Maiden – Maiden England ’88 (2013 CD reissue)

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MAIDEN ENGLAND FRONT

IRON MAIDEN – Maiden England ’88 (2013 CD reissue)

It only took 25 years, but Iron Maiden have finally released a complete 2 CD edition of their legendary Maiden England recording.  A video was released in 1989, and a truncated CD version in 1994.  These were great, but less than 100% satisfying.

The first thing you notice is the striking cover art.  This is by somebody named Hervé Monjeaud.  It resembles Derek Riggs’ Eddies enough to fit in fairly seemlessly with the 1988 era.  I wish they used the original motorcycle cover art by Derek Riggs, but at least they credit him inside as the original artist.

Also checking the credits, I was pleased to find that the audio was not remixed.  This is the same mix that Martin Birch produced at the time.  The three unreleased songs are freshly mixed by Kevin Shirley, but there’s no tampering.  This is the authentic Maiden England.

Last year when I reviewed every Maiden release in a row, I discussed Maiden England.  Please check that review out if you’re looking for a more comprehensive review of the songs and content. Back then, I gave it 4/5 stars.  I found the sound a tad muddy, I complained about the brief running time, and I didn’t like that the CD did not include every song from the VHS version.  The missing songs were “Hallowed Be Thy Name” and “Can I Play With Madness”.  This edition restores them to the running order, and even adds three more songs that were cut completely from the original release!  So right there, two of my beefs have been addressed.

What about the sound?  Bloody great!  Whatever it was about the first CD release, the flatness of it, is gone.  It’s like when you take your car to the wash, how it shines.  Maiden England ’88 sounds so much better than the original CD.  And of course there’s a nice substantial booklet with photos and lyrics.  No notes from Steve or anybody else, disappointingly.  I always like those “producer’s notes” or what have you.  But that’s window dressing, this is really such a pleasure to listen to, I assure you.  As I wrote these words, Dave Murray was wheedly-wheedly-ing in my ears.  And I liked it.

With the added material and fresh sound, Maiden England ’88 takes its place alongside other Maiden classics such as Live at Donington or Rock In Rio.  Of course it cannot usurp Live After Death, nothing ever will.  Maiden England ’88 has some really awesome Maiden material that didn’t make Live After Death, such as “Still Life”, which remains dramatic and stunning.  “Killers” and “Sanctuary” are two other songs that were not on Live After Death.  Not to mention, by 1988 Maiden had two more albums to draw from.  That means you’ll also hear “Wasted Years” and “The Clairvoyant”, songs that stand strong among the old stalwarts.

The three unreleased songs are “Run To The Hills”, “Running Free” and “Sanctuary”.  These were the encores.  They are not mixed onto the end of the show, but follow a pause and have a noticeably different sound.  It’s hard to describe how the sound differs, but you can hear a change.  I’m not sure why these weren’t included on the original VHS.  Surely not for quality reasons.  The running time of the original video was 95 minutes.  Would another 15 have bumped them into a higher, tax, uhh, you know?  (120 minute tapes were common back then too.)

There’s a DVD too, but I don’t have that yet.  One thing at a time!  Send me a copy, EMI, and I’ll be happy to review it!

5/5 stars

REVIEW: Killer Dwarfs – Dirty Weapons (1990)

dwarfs

KILLER DWARFS – Dirty Weapons (1990 CBS)

I remember when the Dwarfs opened for Maiden on their Seventh Tour of a Seventh Tour. They began playing a new song on that tour called “Nothing Gets Nothing”. It was fast and almost thrash metal in its delivery. The Dwarfs were heavying up!

Two years later, when Dirty Weapons finally hit the stores, it wasn’t thrash metal, but it was an up-ratchet from the previous album (and major label debut) Big Deal. It was also an improvement in sound, production, and song quality in general. This album is the Dwarfs very best. It is near-flawless. It is a must have for any true fan of Canadian metal.

Highlights include:

  • The title track and first single, with irrestible chorus.
  • “Last Laugh”, a great hard rocker, memorable and tough.
  • The angry “Comin’ Through”. “Outta my way, I’m coming through, I know what I want and I know how to get it!”
  • The melodic and rootsy “Not Foolin'”. “Not foolin’ me, you’re nothing but a sleeze”.
  • The atmospheric and slow closer “Want It Bad”.
  • The power ballad “Doesn’t Matter” which should have been the biggest hit of their entire career. Alas, it was one year too early as the following summer was the summer of the power ballads. But the band believed in it so much, they re-released it on the next album. Which, by then, was far too late, as grunge had hit in a big way.

I’ve heard people say that Russ Dwarf’s vocals are similar to Geddy Lee’s.  I’m not sure if I agree, I never saw it that way at the time.  All I know is, this is a great album, my favourite, and one that kept me rockin’ in the early 1990’s.

5/5 stars