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There is nothing to say about Iron Maiden that hasn't been said yet. They're probably the best known metal band in the world. And their live concerts are always well reviewed. So, what went in their head (maybe I should say "in Steve's head") when they decided to release this "live compilation"? The songs in fact are recorded in different places during the Fear Of The Dark tour '92 and '93, even if it is mastered to seem a unique concert. The tracklist is a selection of songs taken from the first five albums of the band.
The performance is really energic through all the lenght of the album, maybe the sound isn't the best, but this is exactly how Maiden sounded live in '92-'93. Even if the vocals are not too clean and the bass sound should have been deeper, the drums are great and the guitars are loud enough.
We start with an excellent version of The Number Of The Beast, followed by The Trooper (incredibly loud and powerful), Prowler (maybe this one should have been played faster) and Transylvania. Then comes Remember Tomorrow, which features a very good vocal performance, and Where Eagles Dare, which is really faster than the studio version. Sanctuary is played in a slight different way than usual. Running free features a good partecipation by the audience, but the sound is a bit too weak. Run To The Hills, 2 Minutes To Midnight and Iron Maiden are pure energy, while the version of Hallowed Be Thy Name on this album is maybe one of the best ever.
There are some errors in the performance, but the energy is so much that they're nearly unimportant. Some of the solos are improvised, but they are all great. The crowd is really loud and the sound is a little dirty, but these elements give a stronger sense of autenticity to the recording, fortunately this live has not been heavily modified in the studio during the mastering process.
This is another great proof of Maiden's capabilities, and listening to it at the maximum volume is almost like being at a real concert. It can remind of No Sleep 'Til Hammersmith by Motorhead, both are releases of incredible energy despite the fact that the production and the sound aren't the best. Metal concerts magic!
Two times they visited my country supporting Fear of The Dark, once in September ‘92 and then april ’93. Of course, as being a dedicated fan, I went to each show. Also they released two live albums from that period. This was the time Maiden began flooding their discography with live recordings and haven’t really stopped since. ‘A real Live One’ was pretty nice due to the track listing and ‘A Real Dead One’ also had a few nice additions.
The reasons to get this album if you’re into Maiden are simple: ‘Prowler’, ‘Transylvania’ and ‘Where Eagles Dare’. Old classics played live for the first time in many years. Especially ‘Where Eagles Dare’ stands out. Having a live recording of ‘Remember Tomorrow’ with Bruce of course wasn’t that special because of the 1982 Number of the Beast single.
The major complaint about ‘Transylvania’ is Janick Gers. His playing lacks the needed staccato feeling. And secondly the pace is slightly too slow. The slow pace is also what makes ‘Prowler’ sound less interesting.
Then there are all those other songs. I have enough live versions of The Trooper, Hallowed By the Name etcera already, thank you very much. And with Gers on guitar the bands does look good and energetic live, but they don’t sound that good anymore on a live album. He is sloppy and especially original Smith solo’s need precision.
Then there is Dickinson. Not at his best on this tour and it shows. Tired, uninspired, whatever the excuse was, we’re not getting the best and together with Gers he is the second reason to discard this bad release.
The last straw is the production. Horrible! Blurry! Each song sounds too different from the other since they were recorded on different nights so the album does not sound cohesive. If they actually used the best versions from that tour of each song I wonder how bad Bruce sang or Gers played on the other recordings. Or how slow the band worked its way through Transylvania, Prowler and Iron Maiden on other nights. Of course the paces of Iron Maiden and Prowler here have more in common with the Soundhouse Tapes versions which featured Sampson on drums, but after growing up with the Clive Burr version, these slow interpretations are truly lacking.
Musically Iron Maiden (including Gers) were so much better when promoting the No Prayer album and they would be pretty damn good again on the Ed Hunter tour. But this was the lowest point during the first Dickinson-era. The albums were getting bad, the performances sloppy. So 30 points for hearing three oldies again and that about wraps it up for this album.
Like its companion A Real Live One, this is a collection taken from various dates Iron Maiden performed in Europe, in 1992. But the difference is in the track selection. A Real Live One contained tracks from Somewhere in Time and beyond, while this dwells in the earlier portion of the band's career. Thus, A Real Dead One feels more redundant with Live After Death and diehards of Paul Di'anno's vocals on the first two albums will have to deal with any natural prejudice they have against Dickinson's interpretation of the material. It was a pretty novel, but ultimately worthless marketing ploy, and surely Iron Maiden could have just released the two albums together as a 2-disc set and scab a little less from their fans. Which, of course, they did...by releasing them both as A Real Live Dead One in 1998, for an even further rubbing in the wrong way...
Surprisingly, all of the Di'anno era material here is culled from the debut, Iron Maiden, and represents half of the overall track list. "Prowler", "Transylvania", "Remember Tomorrow", "Sanctuary", "Running Free" and "Iron Maiden" are all present. Bruce is actually pretty convincing with "Remember Tomorrow" and "Iron Maiden", and "Transylvania" remains instrumental, so it shouldn't be too painful if you're the most stubborn variety of purist. There are NO tracks here from Killers...which seems strange, but the Number of the Beast selections are all quite predictable: "The Number of the Beast", "Run to the Hills" and "Hallowed Be Thy Name".
None of these feel as if the band are playing at their peak, suffering from some of the same subdued vibrancy as the material on A Real Live One. This is highly likely to be more the fault of the sound board and mixing engineers than the band, but still, it does not a good product make, and feels like Maiden and their record label might have just desperately wanted to get more out on the shelves. Rounding out the album are "The Trooper" and "Where Eagles Dare" from Piece of Mind, and poor old Powerslave gets only "2 Minutes to Midnight", which was probably my favorite on the album due to the swollen crowd accompaniment.
If you're going to actually pick this up in 2010 or beyond, and own neither of the individual releases, the safest bet is just to grab A Real Live Dead One, and kill two birds with one wallet. But I must admit that I find neither of these offerings all that memorable or essential, and to date the default live Maiden offering remains Live After Death. I won't go so far as to say they suck, but the most they can deliver is some new Derek Riggs cover imagery, liner notes and fairly average performances.
This album is the slightly older and uglier twin sister of “A Real Live One”, which was a fairly decent live album, thought the vocals were a bit rough at times and “Wasted Years” wasn’t on the set. As everyone is sure to remember, 1993-1994 is a period that lives in infamy, for it was when Bruce Dickinson left the band high and dry (though technically Maiden had lost its edge since Adrian Smith quit) and the entire Maiden sound was thrown for a loop. Part of the foreshadowing of these events can be readily observed in the poor performance and lack of sound quality on this release, which consists of only pre-1986 Maiden.
The obvious problem here is Bruce’s utterly terrible renditions of the Paul Di’anno material. One thing that I am thankful for is that Bruce has spared us his god awful rendition of Wrathchild and all of my other favorite songs off the revolutionary “Killers” LP; however he has taken the occasional to butcher nearly every song off the debut album. The least offensive of the bunch include “Sanctuary” where he is not required to go very high and thus can spare us his overtly dirty and sloppy high notes (he used to hit them flawlessly) and “Transylvania” where he doesn’t sing at all. “Running Free” is sung very sloppily and has too many damned ad lib parts (sing the damned song the right way Bruce” and the self-titled song is almost as sloppy. “Prowler” is out of tune and “Remember Tomorrow” has some of the most god awful attempts at a Di’anno scream I’ve ever heard.
Bruce’s strength as a singer was always when doing that quasi-operatic tenor voice that he helped pioneer, he is definitely not capable of pulling off a Rob Halford, I don’t care how hard he tries. As such, his better performances are on songs where this doesn’t occur, which is primarily the “Piece of Mind” material. The two highlights of this concert are “Where Eagles Dare” and “The Trooper”, although “Hallowed be thy name” is also pulled of decently.
Another aspect of this CD where things fall flat is Janick Gers’ guitar playing, which is all over the damned place. His solos are highly unorganized and downright sloppy. I can picture him spending the better part of them doing far too many behind the back tosses and show boating through gesticulation instead of concentrating on playing the right damned notes the way Dave Murray usually does. The intro riff on “2 minutes to midnight” is done wrong, as one of the two notes in the 4th interval pattern (the same kind of chords used in Man on the Silver Mountain) is actually played, resulting in a very empty sound. You’ll take note that he does this the whole time, even as Dave Murray comes in playing it properly, indicating that this was probably intentional, though this doesn’t make it sound any better.
But even worse than the severely poor performances by 2 of the 5 members is the damned set list they’ve concocted. How many times do we have to hear stuff from the debut and “Number of the Beast”? We’ve got great songs off of Piece of Mind and Powerslave such as “Flight of Icarus”, “Die with your boots on”, “Aces High” and “Powerslave” which are short enough to work well live yet are not to be found here. I’m tired of hearing stuff off “Number of the Beast” live all the time, and as good as the stuff from the debut is, it’s also way overplayed.
To rabid fans and Iron Maiden collectors who want to own everything they’ve put out (I’m one of you), look for this in the bargain bin or try to track down the 2 CD reissue at a discount price, this isn’t worth blowing $18 on. For those who wish only to purchase quality Maiden live stuff and liked the set lists they had during this era, the VHS of “Raising Hell” features better renditions of Maiden classics (save Wrathchild which of course Bruce completely butchers). But for true quality live material, check out Rock in Rio, that’s where the band definitely recaptured the spirit of what is found in the studio releases.
A Real Dead One is a record filled with highs and lows. Let’s take a look at the highs first:
The real gems on this album are Prowler, Transylvania and Where Eagles Dare. The first one is a song that I always loved, it’s very energetic and has a punk rock feel to it mixed with a Maiden sound that was still in development. Bruce’s take on the song (it was originally recorded on Iron Maiden’s debut when Paul Di’Anno was the singer) is amazing adding some technique to the song original rawness.
Transylvania is played to almost perfection and, at the time, it was great to see them bring out some stuff that they’d don’t normally play to their set. Where Eagles Dare was made to be played live, from its great drum intro (courtesy of Nicko McBrain), passing through the guitar leads, everything on this song is frantic. Hell, I can even let go the fact that Bruce screws up most of the lyrics.
Another great moment is Hallowed Be Thy Name. Despite the fact the this song is on every live record Iron Maiden did since it was first recorded, I think that this is version is one of the best being almost as good as the one on Live After Death.
Now, for the lows:
I’ll never understand how Janick Gers was capable of screwing up the intro to 2 Minutes To Midnight so bad. Well, he did it. And what strikes me the most is that it’s not even that hard to play that. Maybe he was having a bad day.
Now, for my main complain about this album.
How many fuckin’ records can you do with The Number Of The Beast on it?
That song is so overplayed that they seem bored while performing it and The Trooper suffers the same.
Overall, the performance of the band is lacking some feeling. This may have to do with the fact the Bruce was about to leave the band.
To be honest, the only reason why I have this record is simply because I got to have everything Maiden ever released. If you’re not like me Live After Death or Rock In Rio are better choices when it comes to Maiden’s live albums.
"A Real Dead One" comes as one half of the recordings of the '92 Fear of the Dark World Tour, with "A Real Live One" being the other half and "Live at Donington" an additional limited edition album; all of them thus being at the time the last live recordings with Dickinson. "A Real Dead One" contains songs from the pre-Live After Death era, and as I can assure that it is nowhere near as good as that one, one should consider it an obligatory buy to complete the loyal fan's collection.
General let-downs of this album:
1. An overall bad production, which was obviously Harry's intention, but which does not add to the quality. The crowd is too loud, the guitars are too weak and the bass has too little bass (my experience learns that this must be due to the production and not to the PA of the show).
2. A generally dull track-listing. I am a fervent Maiden-fan, but don't stand up and cheer to hear for the zillionth time the ol' big hits played with little to no variation to the previous live recording.
3. Musicianship: fairly not up to the Maiden standards if I may say so. The leads are okay, but not exceptional; the bass is not up to its fame (as is unfortunately quite usual with Harry's live performances of late); the singer is still Dickinson, but not half as good as he should be. That is, any band may dream to make a live recording half as good as this one and be told to dream on, but hey, this is Maiden, and it's clear that there was little time left for this line-up. Besides, Gers is not up to Smith's parts, sorry to say that but it's true.
But consider these positive points:
1. Nicko is there, and makes me regret my choice to pick up the bass in stead of the drums. Come hell or high water, Nicko is there and he garantuees to bring you the core of what I often regard as one of the key elements of Maiden's succesful golden years. McBrain is an exceptional drummer, and manages to get this and any record going along, no matter what, with his catchy and creative fills. Favourite drummer N° 1, and I must own any Maiden live album to hear what he's been up to again.
2. The track listing has also several merits:
-"Remember Tomorrow" is well-performed, and also very well sung by Bruce.
-"Where Eagles Dare" is one of the greatest Maiden songs, and although it's impossible to preserve the atmosphere of the studio version on a live show, it's still pretty decent and well sung.
-"Sanctuary": improvisation, it's a rare thing with Maiden but it's here indeed.
-"2 Minutes": well, it's great, just great, even though it's not the same as when performed with Adrian on Live After Death.
The tracks not mentioned above are rather weak, even the unusual "Transylvania". I pray each day for some diversification in Maiden's setlists, but one has to be lucky when they play one unusual song (like Lord of the Flies during the Dance of Death tour). I also pray that they would leave behind the faster-is-better-attitude and slow down again to fit the tempo of the studio versions more. I even pray for private gigs and cheaper t-shirts.
Anyway, keep in mind that most of these tracks were recorded after Bruce's announcement of his leaving Maiden, and that thus, these were his farewell performances. Looking with hind-sight, however, kind of downgrades this record and makes it less unique.
70% for the great music (come what may, it's still Maiden).