Those who are into Iron Maiden will have to probe the deepest recesses of their wallets, for Iron Maiden has recently done what Metallica did some years ago with "Live Shit: Binge and Purge": They released a box set. Although cheaper than aforementioned item, it came at around 100 Euros, which at the moment is about the same in US$.

The box contains an Iron Maiden family tree with a pretty large ring, a shot glass and three double CDs. The box itself looks nice, but that's not really important anyway. In fact it's the music that's important, and I will stick to the three double CDs included.

The first double CD is entitled "BBC Arvhives". These are recordings from various Friday Night Rock show sessions and other performances the BBC recorded. They date from 1979 to 1988, i.e. from Paul DiAnno up to classic Iron Maiden's seminal "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son". Especially the 10 tracks with DiAnno singing are interesting - after all, there's a lot of Iron Maiden live material with Bruce Dickinson at the helm. Still, the Dickonson recordings from 1988's Monsters of Rock are quite excellent (including the title track of "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son"). A good CD, this one.

Most interesting is "Beast over Hammersmith", a double live album recorded during the "Beast on the Road" tour gig in Hammersmith Odeon (March 1982). Bruce Dickinson is still eager and fresh, Clive Burr is behind the drums and Steve Harris still looks like a kid (more or less). The accompanying booklet is lavishly illustrated. This is, finally, an Iron Maiden live recording that is pretty damn close to the classic "Live After Death".

Third, and potentially also very interesting, is "Best of the B'Sides". This is, as the name implies, a collection of bits and pieces that appeared as extra tracks on Iron Maiden's singles. A few old live tracks, almost all covers they ever did, etc. The collection is not complete at all, so if you thought you could now sell all your original Iron Maiden singles for...(ta da) Ebay you're sadly mistaken. Still, you can sell about 10 of them, which should be able to fetch about 40 - 50 Euros at Ebay, which in effect makes the box set as a whole just that little more affordable. Anyway, highlight on Disc 1 is "Remember Tomorrow (live)", lowlight is the silly "Black Bart Blues". Disc 2, inevitably, has Blaze Bayley on it. On "Justice of the Peace" and "Judgement Day" he displays ever so clearly why he had to go. "Blood on the World's Hands (live)" has good guitar work and synth. I'd never heard this track before, it's from a Blaze Bayley album. He also sings on it, which is halfway OK except for the higher bits.

All in all, I definitely think this compilation is worth while. The live albums are very interesting, and I am much more likely to pop the "B'Sides" discs in the player than the dozen or more separate singles.

Click here to buy or check out this item at 20% off



Written December 2002


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