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Pointlessness is a common eventuality in the realm of best of compilations, and unfortunately Iron Maiden has seen their fair share of exploits in this regard. Topping the list is this unfortunate little puppy affectionately known as “Edward The Great”, a title that is about as deceptive as the disclosures of a government with regards to overseas black ops. The analogy towards government and politics could be drawn further into the world of democratic campaigns in the song selection department, as the platitudes are plentiful and the surprises are scarce. Part of it might be my long tenure as a fan of this band, but even for a newcomer to the band, this is unacceptable.
The typical ordering of songs by chronological release of their respective albums is not a bad one; in fact most of the better compilations tend to take this route. But unfortunately the pacing found from song to song within this format isn’t quite so well realized. The selection of Blaze era songs and “The Wicker Man” being lumped together in the listing is somewhat reminiscent to the flawed pacing of Manowar’s “Warriors Of The World” album, cramming a large amount of fast paced metal at the tail end of what is a fairly slow and safe collection of songs. Of course, it is important to note that said Manowar album offered up a full dose of solid new material, while this is a rehash of songs that anyone interested in the band will have heard and will probably own the respective albums where they can be found.
It is easy to pick on a compilation for what it doesn’t include, particularly with this band, as any amount of tree pruning will inevitably cut away something great. But what is included in this release makes it pretty easy to pick on. With the exceptions of “Infinite Dreams” and the live rendering of “Fear Of The Dark”, this is all radio-friendly material that doesn’t really do justice to the band’s abilities. The simple inclusion of something less known like “To Tame A Land” or “Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son” would have done this a world of good. And heaven forbid there be at least one representative from the band’s influential material with Paul Di’Anno should find its way on here.
No, this should not be titled “Edward The Great”; this should be called something more along the lines of “Iron Maiden For Dummies”, “The Idiot’s Guide To Iron Maiden”, or for a less offensive term, “The Official Iron Maiden Cliffs Notes”. There is very little enrichment here, even for the metal newcomer who prefers to keep things safe. Only the washed up 80s glam rock turned corporate suit would bother with this sort of release in order to complement his greatest hits collections of Winger and Cinderella, and it was likely that sort of mindset that was influencing Steve Harris when he decided to put this together.
I was excited when I came home and saw Edward the Great lying on my desk as a present from my brother. Then I flipped the CD case over and looked at the track listing. What the flying fuck?
The most obvious flaw with this piece of trash is the tracklisting. Does the idea of a Maiden compilation without any Di'Anno material, missing Hallowed Be Thy Name, missing Aces High, missing Stranger in a Strange Land, and missing Be Quick or Be Dead sound like a good idea to you? It must have to Steve...or maybe to Steve's wallet.
As well, there is also some crap included here. Can I Play With Madness, Bring Your Daughter to the Slaughter, and the live rendition of Fear of the Dark (Worst. Lyric. Ever.) are unbearably cheesy. The Blaze material (Futureal and Man on the Edge), and Blaze's voice in particular, comes off as weak compared to Bruce's soaring wail and dramatic touches. The Clairvoyant, Infinite Dreams, and Holy Smoke were absolutely unnecessary.
Excuse me, Steve, but we wanted the BEST of Iron Maiden. If you're not going to release a compilation that isn't half-assed, don't release one at all.
Well, I've had this album for about a week, and I'm left wondering why Iron Maiden bothered to release this compilation album. It's tracklist bears staggering resemblance to the single CD version of The Best Of The Beast I already own, and it suffers from some glaring ommisions; namely, Hallowed Be Thy Name and Afraid To Shoot Strangers.
Considering Maiden's impressive list of studio albums, it's safe to assume that it's impossible to narrow their best down to 16 songs. What's worse is the quesionable selection of songs. I can't help but wonder why songs like The Wicker Man are on here. Sure, its a great song, but was it worth leaving off a much more deserving song? If they wanted to ensure a Brave New World song on the album, why not use something like ghost Of The Navigator?
However, all is not lost. The inclusion of the Rock In Rio version of Fear Of The Dark scores some points, if only for hearing a quarter million screaming fans singing along with Bruce.
Another thing that really dissapoints me is the packaging. When I buy a best of album, I expect to be treated to a booklet full of rare pictures and other goodies. You know, kind of like Best Of The Beast. However, when I crack open Edward The Great, i'm greated with lame cover art, and shiny pages with the lyrics accompanied by a handful of pictures of the band. Less than impressive.
Overall, the album left me feeling cheated. It reminds me a whole lot of Iced Earth's "The Blessed And The Damned". A pointless best-of album with a poor tracklist and a tendancy to leave the buyer feeling that the CD was completely needless. At least Iced Earth can say that they had no say in the release of the album.
The bottom line: Stick to one of the other best-of albums, or at least pick up a live album if your looking for a collection of songs spanning thier career.