reviewing Iron Maiden’s First Ten Years

I was in the shoe store the other day looking at skater shoes, and I came across the Iron Maiden “Killers” Vans, and I thought to myself “wow, cool – they now sell Iron Maiden ‘Killers’ Vans in Singapore. I wouldn’t mind buying a pair. Hell, if I was younger, I might actually even WEAR them.” But of course I didn’t buy them.

I recently heard the Iron Maiden “First Ten Years” singles set, and thought about how cool it would be to review them for my blog! Great recordings of really strong songs, generally followed by fantastic B-sides, covers, and other oddities. Unfortuntely, there’s also a long list of wonky “Listen With Nicko!” that is a total waste of time – over 100 minutes of babbling!

“Running Free” single – A fantastic release with the awesome “Running Free” song as its lead, but then some other cool bonuses, including the first appearance of Eddie the Head on the single’s cover. “Burning Ambition” is a great, energetic song from the pre-Iron Maiden days of Steve Harris. The “Sanctuary” single is also full of great songs, such as the prog-metal A-side. Then there’s a fantastic live version of “Drifter” that opens to enthousiastic chants of “Moi-denn”, a fantastic recording which here sounds like more of a funky blues stomp than a heavy metal classic. The band also has lots of fun with the sounds by doing a reggae-thing like the Police do in “The Bed’s Too Big Without You.” That’s followed by a wicked version of a Montrose song called “I’ve Got The Fire,” but here it almost sounds as dense as a blazing Husker Du original. Fantastic. But wait – what’s “Montrose”?

“Women in Uniform” single – Non-album single that is also a cover of a Skyhooks (who?!?!) song, this one is funky glam metal and Paul DiAnno sounds like he’s rapping! “Invasion” is a tight Thin Lizzy-type rocker. “Twilight Zone” is kind of like a Scorpions song from the 1970s, but very good. “Phantom of the Opera” and “Wrathchild” are all live tracks.

Purgatory/Genghis Khan single, with “Maiden Japan” live EP – More great Paul DiAnno songs, particularly Purgatory. I somehow don’t remember this song well, and Paul makes it sound more punk than metal. Great, great, great. Live they were really tight, especially for that big Japanese crowd.

“Run To The Hills” single – I was never crazy about this song, but it’s okay. The b-side “Total Eclipse” is nothing special either. Bruce Dickinson’s live version of “Remember Tomorrow” is sung in his fake Paul DiAnno voice, pretty weird. What’s weirder still is that apparently it’s really the version of the sone that appears on “Maiden Japan” with Bruce’s vocals overdubbed, although at the end of the song both of them yell out “thank you,” meaning that when they added Bruce’s vocal they forgot to remove Paul’s. Oops!

“Flight of Icarus” single – I always thought that this was one of their best songs. Comes with a Bruce Dickinson live version of the Montrose song “I’ve Got The Fire,” and a Jethro Tull cover of “Cross-Eyed Mary,” neither of which is very good.

“Two Minutes To Midnight” single, “Aces High” single – “Two Minutes To Midnight” is a pretty standard Iron Maiden song, so-so, and “Rainbow’s Gold” is a cover from some band called Beckett – monotonal, but fast-paced and pretty good, actually, a keeper. Then there’s some junk called “Mission From ‘Arry,” which is a taped conversation of an argumentt between Nicko McBrain and Steve Harris, some useless dispute over a screwup during Nicko’s drum solo, recorded by a smirking Bruce Dickinson, quite irritating, really, but sort of a bit of “reality TV” from the olden days. “Aces High” is a fun, punchy album numbre, while “King of Twilight,” a cover from a band called Nektar, is not that great.

“Running Free” and “Run To The Hills” singles from live album “Live After Death” – pretty good live albums, very tight versions of “Running Free,” “Sanctuary” with a strange vocal trick by Bruce, “Murders In The Rue Morgue,” “Run To The Hills,” “Phantom Of The Opera” with weird high-low vocals, and the instrumental “Losfer Words.” “Scream for me Long Beach!”

“Wasted Years” single – this is probably one of my favourite Iron Maiden songs, I like the “ticklish” guitar sounds, but also just about everything else about it. The rest of the album is not great, but the lead-off song is. “Reach Out” is a side-project song, and has Adrian Smith on vocals (?!?!). “Sheriff of Huddersfield” is a song where the band takes the piss out of their manager Ron Smallwood, starting the song off saying “we’re on a mission from Rod.” Great lines making fun of his Cockney accent, living in L.A., anything. The “Stranger in a Strange Land” single has a pretty generic A-side, followed by “That Girl,” a ballad of sorts that is also one of the “galloping” Iron Maiden songs, not a bad number. “Juanita” is a pretty good rocker.

“Can I Play With Madness” single – From “Seventh Son of the Seventh Son,” the first Iron Maiden album I failed to buy, and I didn’t buy another until 2007′s “A Matter of Life or Death.” “Black Bart Blues” is a strange “groupie song” with lots of fooling around, including a string of soundbites of Nicko intro-ing songs. “Massacre” is a cover of a Johnny the Fox-era Thin Lizzy song, and sounds pretty good. This single’s B-side is tons better than it’s A-side, five stars! “The Evil That Men Do” is another single, a pretty good song indeed. “Prowler 88″ is a savage remake of the old Paul DiAnno song, unessential, ditto for “Charlotte the Harlot 88.”

“The Clairvoyant” single – Another album track I’ve never heard before, this one has nice guitar work. A live version of “The Prisoner” is okay, “Heaven Can Wait” is so-so (although the crowd singalong part is cool). For “Infinite Dreams” it’s more live songs, this one is not bad either. Then there is a version of “Killers,” “Still Life,” and then the set is through.

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