Iron Maiden/The Essential Iron Maiden/Disc 1

There is little that I, a musical novice, could find grand enough to say about such a legendary band. Founders of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal movement, the band has been constant for nearly 35 years!!! Formed in 1975, the band was/is both groundbreaking and influential. Despite numerous line-up changes, most notably vocalists, the band has held its own and taken on every challenge. All three vocalists of the band [Paul Di’Anno/1978-1981, Bruce Dickinson/1981-1993, Blaze Bayley/1993-1999, Bruce Dickinson/1999-present], have served the Maiden machine well, but it is clear that Dickinson is the captain. The band has released a staggering 35 releases [14 studio/9 live/4 EP’s/8 compilations], ad has move 70 million units with little or no radio play. As most of Maiden compilations, this collection begins with the most recent at the time and descends to the earliest recordings. This compilation is circa 2005 and includes all of the important ‘singles’ but has no entries from A Matter Of Life And Death.

Disc 1:

Paschendale—-Beginning with a lead guitar rather than the Harrisbass, the vocal and the song are slightly schizophrenic….the mood changes are to abrupt, but the song adopts a classic Maiden song by the end of the second verse. Dickinson sounds slightly muted, but the song has a comfortable driving familiarity. The developing chorus allows Bruce to showcase his pipes more and by the end of the song you remember it. The song is huge and meanders through many different solos and moods… the end of this mini-opus you are exhausted.

Rainmaker—-Starting out the gate at a familiar gallop, Dickinson is in fantastic vocal form. The song is a basic really great rock out song. It contains all of the elements that have made us love this song for years and years. A really great single that never got enough attention.

The Wicker Man—-From the first strains of the song, you know that Maiden has returned to their almighty glory. I loved the stuff that the band did with Blaze…but I think I’m the only one. It was heavier and darker…this is a lighter Maiden, that rocks just as hard. The song is so familiar yet brand new. Dickinson enters the fray and it is like he was never gone. Joined on a back vocal with Adrian Smith, the subtle background vocal adds depth and umph to the song. The chorus is a huge audience participation affair. This is magnificent.

Brave New World—-The lead off ‘single’ to this release, it was an announcement that Maiden was back in full form and better than ever. The entire album is full of timeless sounding Maiden….huge chorus, in your face bass and the excellent, under-rated drums of Nicko. The intro to the song only serves to build the hype and goose bumps as you await for the full power of the band to erupt. Dickinson is in excellent form and his vocal only serves to build anticipation. When the song lets loose and Dickinson hits some of his best notes in years, you are only aware of the fact that he is back where he belongs. The song is in the fore front of the ‘Maiden Sound’ as the Harris bass is in full effect and we are off and galloping. Incredibly Fantastic!

Futureal—-Combining all of the great Maiden songs, there is a noticeable downshift in key. I’m sure the band adjusted their sound to accomodate the vocals of Bayley, as his timbre is a lot deeper than Dickinson. I really love Bayley-era Maiden. I think the band took on a heavier, and darker tone and I think Blaze is a great vocalist. But, I probably would not pay to hear him sing the classics. I just don’t think he could do it for an extended amount of time. This however is a nice piece of history.

The Clansman—-Never cared for this song….the arrangement is too moody, the vocal is plain and I do not particularly care for the title. Just never did anything for me. Sorry!

Sign Of The Cross—-My very favorite song of the Bayley era Maiden. The song is really dark, plodding and morose. At the same time it is huge, epic and timeless. Bayley delivers a vocal that is just beyond description. I have listened to this particular song 100’s of times and love it more each time. The song begins in a very dark and epic fashion…lots of atmosphere and monk chantings…the music emerges from the dark and has a melody that sets the whole ‘tune’ of the song. Bayley enters with an almost whispered spoken vocal and the song open like a flower in each headphone. The wit for the grandeur is excruciating…when iy finally hits you are relieved. Bayley has a voice that was made for this song, and the galloping bass of Harris fits in the mix masterfully. The song has a huge movies soundtrack feel that just grows and grows. This is wonderful….youtube this video…give it a try. And please give huge credit to the incredible drum track on this cut….go Nicko!!!

Man On The Edge—-Coming out of the gate an a good pace, the song kicks into high gear at the first bar. The sound is a dirty style rock than normal, and Bayley is in good vocal form. His upper register is clear and harmonic, but nothing like Bruce. The whole tone of this track is more aggressive and faster than most Maiden songs. Harris delivers a bass line that must have blistered his fingers. This is quality.

Be Quick Or Be Dead—-If this was the sound of a band imploding, you would never realize it. The vocal delivery on this track is brutal. Dickinson delivers some screams not heard in some time, and his tone is spot-on!!! The pace of the song is hyper fast and the wall of sound is overwhelming. The drums are in your face and the high hats are crystal clear. Dickinson has presence even in his voice…he makes you pay attention.

Fear Of The Dark [Live]—-Of course, the best Maiden is live Maiden and this track is a clear example of why. The crowds are interactive and magnificent and Dickinson has a stage persona that is 8 times larger than life. The sound of the audience singing the opening of the song will give you goose bumps for days and as Dickinson begins to sing the verse, the crowd is larger than he is. This is pure adoration and appreciation. The song is a grand example of why this band has sold 70 million records!

Holy Smoke—-With a strong lead guitar sound from the onset, you can’t help but again notice the drums and their outstanding sound. This song, never an incredible favorite of mine, seems to be a slight redux of many miscellaneous Maiden tracks with different words. The song has nice high points…namely the afore mentioned drums and the dirty almost bluesy vocal of Dickinson. Not bad…but just ok.

Bring Your Daughter….To The Slaughter—-With an instantly addictive sound, this song was huge for the band and is fantastic live. The song has the early day leanings of bar-blues, and Dickinson delivers a vocal that befits it. There are times when you get the down and dirty Bruce and then you get the heavy metal master Bruce. A nice contrast of sounds, and this alone makes it a classic. Really great!!

The Clairvoyant—-With a nice bass intro that is fueled by blistering melodic leads, the song has classic written all over it. The sound of the band is at a high point in their career and the song shows it. The vocal is fantastic, as Bruce reaches for some nice vocal high points…but….the real selling point is the music of the track. It is pure melodic driven metal that works incredible well. The vocal chorus is catchy and you will have it in your brain for a while. Nice!!!

****1/2 out of 5


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