the trooper

Part 164: “You scratch my back…”

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RECORD STORE TALES Part 164:  “You scratch my back…”

In the past, (Part 120, in fact) I talked about how T-Rev would keep his eyes peeled for discs that he knew I wanted.  It worked out to be a mutually advantageous arrangement;  a large chunk of my collection came to me simply because T-Rev knew I wanted something.  I’m sure the reverse was also true.  But this referred just to discs that showed up in our respective stores.

I had a different arrangement with “QUO”, who worked with me at my own store.  In this case, we’d actually buy each other stuff while we were out on our own record shopping excursions.  I found the following entries in my journal, illustrating exactly the kind of “you scratch my back…” arrangements that we had.  It was pretty awesome.

Date: 2005/10/25
16:26

Today I picked up a Bright Eyes 45, an Arcade Fire 45 for QUO, and the new Motley DVD since I didn’t see the tour. I hope the documentary footage kicks ass! The last Motley DVD (given to me by an ex) really sucked. Maybe Vince actually sings on this one instead of letting the fans do it all!

I actually picked up the Bright Eyes 7″ for QUO as well, but he already had it, so I just kept it for myself.  I don’t know which Arcade Fire I bought for him (it was probably “Rebellion”), but the Bright Eyes was “Gold Mine Gutted”.  (The Motley DVD I am referring to was Carnival of Sins.)

This was in return of a favour QUO did for me, one week prior!

Date: 2005/10/18
10:00

QUO picked up three CDs for me in Toronto last night:

1. Bon Jovi “Have A Nice Day” single (has two live tracks first released on the box set, but in studio versions).
2. Bruce Dickinson Tyranny Of Souls Japanese import with bonus track.
3. Iron Maiden “The Trooper” CD single.

I remember giving QUO a wishlist.  This was back when HMV Toronto still carried Japanese imports (which they no longer do, see rant here).  I remember putting Avril Lavigne CD singles on that wishlist too!

This is what obsessive Record Store Guys do.  We help each other out.  It’s in our blood, the blood of the collector!

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REVIEW: Iron Maiden – “The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg” / “Different World” singles

Part 40 of my series of Iron Maiden reviews!

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IRON MAIDEN – “The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg” / “Different World” (CD, vinyl, DVD, download singles)

There were a lot of B-sides made available for A Matter of Life and Death, so let’s talk about ’em all, shall we?  It’s the last time we’ll have a chance to do so, as since this time Maiden haven’t released any B-sides at all.

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“The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg” (CD, 10″ vinyl)

This awesome song was made available in two formats.  Both had BBC Legends sessions.  The CD has a great version of “Hallowed By That Name”, which is also the iTunes bonus track.  If you’re like me, no doubt you prefer a physical format to a bunch of 1’s and 0’s floating invisibly on your hard drive, yes?   If that is indeed the case, then the CD single is where it’s at, and it’s a corker.  I love the sound of the three guitars on this one.  Not one, but two playing the melody, with one playing the rhythm.

There’s also a beautiful 10″ vinyl, with a sticker.  Clear 10″ vinyl, very cool.  The vinyl had two more songs from this session:  “The Trooper” and “Run to the Hills”.  Now, if you’ve been following along, then you’re already aware there are plenty of live versions of all three of these tracks on the various Maiden live albums, not to mention previous B-sides, and the Eddie’s Archive box.  What’s the difference?  Well, if you want all the power and breakneck energy of a Maiden live performance without crowd noise, this is the way to hear it.  It’s live in the studio.

CD

  1. “The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg”
  2. “Hallowed Be That Name” (Radio 1 ‘Legends’ Session)

10″ vinyl

A. “The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg”
B1. “The Trooper” (Radio 1 ‘Legends’ Session)
B2. “Run to the Hills” (Radio 1 ‘Legends’ Session)

5/5 stars

“Different World” (US CD single, UK CD single, DVD single, 7″ single, download)

This is where things start getting a little crazy.  Yes, you had to buy five different formats to get all the tracks.  Incredible.  It’s stuff like this that makes me miss the simpler old days of collecting!  Let’s go through these, one by one.

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US CD

This one was redundant if you already own the “Benjamin Breeg” singles.  This one repeats “The Trooper” and “Hallowed” from that single, leaving “Run To The Hills” as a vinyl exlusive.

  1. “Different World”
  2. “Hallowed Be That Name” (Radio 1 ‘Legends’ Session)
  3. “The Trooper” (Radio 1 ‘Legends’ Session)

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UK CD

Europe had their own exclusive CD B-side, however.

  1. “Different World”
  2. “Iron Maiden” (Live in Copenhagen on the A Matter of Life and Death tour)

So, yes, I shelled out for a live version of a song that I already have numerous live versions of!  (4 versions on the BBC Archives album alone!)  Life of a collector.  How does it differ from other live versions?  Shit, I don’t know.

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DVD single

DVD singles seemed to be a passing fad, somewhat.  I hope so anyway.  I don’t like ’em.  I don’t see the point of 1) putting out a single that you can’t play in some countries due to region codes, and 2) putting out an audio track on a video format.  This being Maiden though, I made sure I bought this, from the UK Amazon site.

  1. “Different World”
  2. “The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg” (Live in Copenhagen on the A Matter of Life and Death tour)
  3. “Hocus Pocus”

At least the music has some value to it!  A live version of “Benjamin Breeg”, the first and thus far only live release of that song.  And as per Maiden’s usual high standards, it’s freaking great.

But the real cool thing is “Hocus Pocus”, a cover of, yes, the song by Focus!  Lead vocals…sort of…are by Nicko.  No yodeling though.  Just Nicko’s usual nonsensical ramblings in the background! Worth having for sure, but as a cover…what’s the point without the yodeling?  As a cover version, it’s disappointing.  Nicko yodeling?  That would have been awesome.

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7″ single

A picture disc, and a sweet looking one at that, this one has a live version of “Fear of the Dark”.

A. “Different World”
B. “Fear of the Dark” (Live in Copenhagen on the A Matter of Life and Death tour)

Once again, it’s a B-side that we already have lots of live versions of, nothing wrong with it, but nothing especially different either.

different world mp3

mp3 download single

  1.  “Different World” (Live in Aalborg on the A Matter of Life and Death tour)
  2. “Interview with Steve Harris on A Matter of Life and Death”

And another brand new live track!  Once again, this one has yet to be released on any live albums, so it truly is an exclusive.  It was available via the official Maiden site.  It’s cool to hear Steve and Adrian joining Bruce on the chorus, it sounds great.

The interview with Steve, 10 minutes long, I do not have.  Interviews are not high on my priority list for collecting, and it is no longer available.  It was only made available to those who pre-ordered the mp3 single, which I did not do.  There was also an interview disc made available with the Eddie’s Head box set, which I do not have.  Not a big deal to me, the music has always been what I’ve aimed to collect.

4.5/5 stars

REVIEW: Iron Maiden – Death on the Road (2005)

Part 36 of my series of Iron Maiden reviews!

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IRON MAIDEN – Death on the Road (2005)

When Death On The Road came out, I was very excited. When a band of Iron Maiden’s age (or Rush’s, for that matter) put out great new studio albums, I like a live album to follow. Back in the 80’s I would have found this unnecessary  However, let’s face it — how many more Maiden tours will be there be? How many times will Maiden play “Passchendale” live? It may never happen, so a souvenir like this is important to me.  Some fans would simply choose not to buy an album like this since they may already own Rock In Rio, and that’s fine.  For me, I want to hear more.  I want to hear “Dance of Death”.  I want to hear “Passchendale”.  I want to hear “Journeyman”.

Anyway, what I’m getting at is: If you don’t want it, don’t buy it. If you love Maiden, and if they never play these songs again, then why miss out? New fans would be better off picking up Live After Death or Flight 666 (which we’ll get to in due time) for a better overview of the whole Maiden shebang. For the diehards, this is solid.

Death On The Road, recorded in Dortmund Germany on 24 November 2003, has a good mix of newer “reunion” era Maiden with the classics. Yes, I could probably go the rest of my life without ever hearing another version of “Run To The Hills” or “Running Free”, but it’s a double CD and you may as well get the whole setlist. If Maiden didn’t play those songs live, there would be riots. The real treats here are the Dance Of Death material.  There’s a DVD too, which I don’t have — very expensive and hard to get here.

The show opens with one new track, “Wildest Dreams”, the first single from Dance of Death.  While this was never a personal favourite of mine, it is better live than on the album.  Also better live is the single “Rainmaker”.  It just has a little more energy which helps compensate f0r the “repetitive chorus syndrome”.  “Wrathchild” and a somewhat flat “Can I Play With Madness” represent the early material right off the bat, before Maiden slam into “The Trooper” which was the single from this album.

“Dance of Death” begins with Bruce quoting Hamlet:  “There are more things in heaven and earth, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”  I love this song. The afforementioned “Rainmaker” and “Brave New World” follow.  Surprisingly, “Brave New World” is the only song from that album, where Rock In Rio had plenty of material from it.  This is why it is important for a band of Maiden’s stature to keep releasing live albums.  The setlists change drastically tour to tour.

The best of the new songs, “Passchendale” (with more poetry, this time from Wilfrid Owen), stokes the fire, taking its place in Maiden history as one of their best live epics.  It shines live.  It is followed by a lackluster “Lord of the Flies”.  While these Blaze Bayley songs sound awesome with Bruce’s pipes, it was probably past time to retire them from the set.  After all, they could have played “The Wicker Man” or an older song like “Powerslave” instead of this tune that, frankly, isn’t up to the quality of the rest of the concert.  Anyway, it’s nice to have a Blaze song “sung properly” so to speak, although Bruce has to awkwardly shift from his low voice to high.  It was clearly not written for his voice, but he does his best with the material at hand.

It is on disc two that the classics come out.  After a repetitive “No More Lies” that goes on a bit too long, you are assaulted with “Hallowed”, “Fear of the Dark”, “Iron Maiden”, “Beast”, and of course “Run to the Hills”, with only the acoustic “Journeyman” breaking up the slew of hits.   “Journeyman” was a brave choice live, but the crowd know every note.  Judging by the sequence this seems to be the first song of the encores.  Wonderful soloing here.

Production by Kevin “Caveman” Shirley and Steve Harris is fine, but a little bit more dull than the stellar Rock In Rio. Cover art (once again by Melvyn Grant who did Fear of the Dark) is a bit cheesy and I’m not too much into the choice of colours. The booklet, as always, is loaded with awesome live shots.

With this album in the can, Bruce had time for another solo album.  How could he possibly top or even equal The Chemical Wedding?  With a Tyranny of Souls

4/5 stars

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REVIEW: Iron Maiden – The Trooper (2005 single, CD/12″/7″/download)

1703Part 35 of my series of Iron Maiden reviews! 

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IRON MAIDEN – “The Trooper” (2005 single, available on CD, 7″, 12″, and a special download with an exclusive track)

“The Trooper” was re-released as a live single, in support of Maiden’s forthcoming Death on the Road live album (up next in my series of Maiden reviews), and their then-current Eddie Rips Up the World tour. It was released in numerous formats, each with its own exclusive content. Let’s look at ’em all:

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CD Single

This, the most common format to find, contains 3 audio tracks and 2 videos. Personally, I never watch these enhanced CDs, and both these videos are available elsewhere on DVD. They are the 2003 live version of “The Trooper” from the Death on the Road DVD, and the original music video.

The 3 audio tracks are:

  1. “The Trooper” – 2003 live version from Death on the Road
  2. “The Trooper” – original album version from Piece of Mind
  3. “Prowler” – 2005 live version from the Eddie Rips Up the World tour

I love when Bruce sings the old Di’Anno-era classics, and this version of “Prowler” is exclusive to the CD format. During the Eddie Rips Up the World tour, they only played tracks from the first 4 records! That was because at the same time, they were also promoting their 2004 The Early Years DVD, which I talked about last time.

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mp3 Single

Undoubtedly, the rarest version. Since you can’t take a picture of a non-physical format, here’s a picture of the CD that I made of it!

This is what the download site had to say at the time about this odd-duck release:

To celebrate the release of their new single The Trooper, Iron Maiden are also releasing an exclusive EXTRA digital-only version of the track. Taken from their concert at Eglishollin Stadium, Reykjavik, ONLY AVAILABLE HERE complete with some very special extras!

I don’t have a clue what the extras were supposed to be, all I got was the mp3.  If there was anything exclusive such as artwork that was supposed to come with it, I’ve never found any evidence of it.  I have to discount any rumours of artwork.

  1. ‘”The Trooper” – 2005 live version from the current Eddie Rips Up the World tour, Reykjavik, Iceland

This is a slightly more frantic version than the 2003 live take, and trying to find a copy online is futile today.  I’ve had many people ask me to send them a copy.  Sorry, that’s not what this blog is for.  I don’t know what copyright laws regarding this are, but more to the point, I’m here to share my knowledge, not my music.

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7″ Single (blue vinyl)

I love this one. Here’s the track list:

  • A. “The Trooper” – 2003 live version from Death on the Road
  • B. “Another Life” – 2005 live version from the current Eddie Rips Up the World tour

Again, another Di’Anno classic from the Eddie Rips Up the World tour, and a smokin’ one at that. The only other place you could hear Dickinson sing this song is a 1982 version, exclusive to the massive Eddie’s Archive box set, which we’ve already covered.

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12″ Single (picture disc)

These 12″ picture discs are desired by collectors, but never sound as good as regular vinyl. Play it once, put it on your computer, and keep the record safe.

  • A1. “The Trooper” – 2003 live version from Death on the Road
  • A2. “The Trooper” – original album version from Piece of Mind
  • B. “Murders in the Rue Morgue” – 2005 live version from the current Eddie Rips Up the World tour

So again, a Di’Anno era classic, exclusive to this format. A couple earlier versions with Bruce singing are available on the Eddie’s Archive box set. This is the most current recording available of Maiden playing this song. Maiden generally don’t play a lot of the old Di’Anno’s anymore, excluding stuff like “Iron Maiden” and “Running Free”.

So, as a huge fan of Bruce singing Di-Anno era Maiden, and as a big fan of beautiful vinyl, gotta give this:

5/5 stars

Next time, we’ll talk about Death on the Road itself.  Stay tuned.

Note: All comments regarding trades will be deleted.