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The First Ten Years: Part IX
The 9th EP released in the First Ten Years series is perhaps the one I found the most valuable in the entire spread, because the B-sides for both Can I Play With Madness? and The Evil That Men Do singles are unavailable elsewhere, and also quite good. This is the quality that I would have liked the band to uphold through all singles, or the bare minimum that any band should produce on such a release. I mean, ideally, they wouldn't happen at all, but if you're going to squeeze out a few extra bucks from either fans or non-fans who for some silly reason can't see the benefit in paying a few extra dollars for a full-length, it should be worthwhile.
Can I Play With Madness? is a great, memorable Maiden tune, but the real reasons to acquire this EP come in the form of the "Black Bart Blues", which is like this near 7 minute jam section which is actually comprised of great riffing. There are vocals too, but they're actually sort of silly and self-referential towards the song. There is also a Nicko McBrain 'answering machine' in the song, and a bunch of his tomfoolery near the end. In other words, for the first 3-4 minutes, you get a decent Iron Maiden jam loaded with NWOBHM goodness. The other B-side is a cover of Thin Lizzy's "Massacre" from the Johnny the Fox album, and like a lot of their covers, is a good choice, and kicks a bit of ass, in particular the spiky little melodies panning out to the side of the mix.
The Evil That Men Do is likewise a treat, and the title track is another of Seventh Son of a Seventh Son's strongest. But the attraction to this single would have been the Bruce Dickinson-fronted versions of "Prowler" and "Charlotte the Harlot". Both sound quite excellent in all their modernized glory, with the music itself being streamlined for the Maiden of '88. I'm not trying to infer that they're better than the originals, mind you. I'll always have a soft spot for the Di'anno versions, but if you ARE going to do some remakes for fun, I'd say a single or EP is a good place to allocate them. Of the two, I think I liked "Prowler '88" a little more.
"Listen With Nicko!" begins more with a little more flatulence than the previous entries to the monologue, and as he usual he talks about the charting of the singles. He also pays a brief memory to Graham Chapman (the Monty Python comedian who appeared in the "Can I Play With Madness?" video but passed away not long after. Basically everything you need to know about the two original singles, and then some...
This is definitely the biggest treat in the First Ten Years collection, because all four of the bonus tracks from the singles are worth hearing and owning, the possible exception being the dicking around the band does in "Black Bart Blues". If you can track them down in one place rather than the constituent singles, why not?