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…And if you thought The Trooper was a single which embodied Maiden in crystallised form, here’s ‘Aces High’! The pace is even higher and Bruce-era Maiden are getting close to the speed and rawness of the Di’Anno days with this tune. What a mixture of two brilliant eras of Maiden I must say. Blistering leads and marvellous harmonies, an outstanding vocal performance by Dickinson (which he unfortunately never could pull off live) and the rhythm section seems inexhaustibly energetic.
To this day ‘Aces High’ remains the most furious Dickinson-era Maiden tune (Moonchild following closely) and therefore an indispensable song from their massive discography.
As for the Nektar cover. I never fully understood why Maiden choose to just call it ‘King of Twilight’ when in fact the song consists of sections from two Nektar songs, including ‘Cryin in the Dark’, which actually is the first half of Maiden’s version. Nevertheless Maiden actually again manage to make drug-laden progrock sound like haunting metal as they did earlier with Jethro Tull. Once again, one of my favourite Maiden B-sides.
The live version of ‘Number Of The Beast’ is pretty good (one of the rare live recordings from the world Piece Tour) and released in a time when the world wasn’t already flooded with billion versions already. Nice addition but quite unnecessary since ‘King Of Twilight’ was already more than enough reason to get this EP.
As if this wasn’t enough already, we get one of the greatest Eddie drawings as well. What a superb cover. What a marvellous single!
Never let it be said that I do not admire the tenacity of Iron Maiden. Even when they’re just releasing singles and EP’s, they always smack a kickass pic on the cover. Featuring good ol’ Edward flying a fighter jet, their Aces High single is yet another well-endowed release for collector’s to go gaga over.
Side A is of course the track “Aces High.” One in a long, proud line of Maiden album openers, it’s a NWOBHM classic. Personally I’m more of a “Two Minutes to Midnight” guy when it comes to Powerslave singles (review pending), but you can’t keep a good song down, especially if it was penned by Steve Harris. But you’re not buying this single for “Aces High” (you should already have it); you’re getting it for the B-sides. First up is “King of Twilight,” originally by British psychedelic/progressive/space-rock pioneers Nektar. I’m familiar with the band, but as of right now I’ve never heard the original. Doesn’t matter though, ‘cause the Maiden version rules. Basically the Steve Harris & Nicko McBrain show, it slays that fucking Montrose cover from a few years back. Lastly, there’s a live rendition of “The Number of the Beast.” It’s good, but live versions of that song are not hard to come by.
Great art and great songs, it’s the complete package. Available in picture-disc for those who’d rather look at it than spin it.