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What the hell?! - 25%

Evil_Carrot, November 2nd, 2012

Let me say right off the bat, that on a musical level, I’d grade this much higher. However, being what this actually is, I really can’t. Assuming I counted correctly this is Iron Maiden’s 7th ‘Greatest hits’ album. It’s a follow up to their “Somewhere Back in Time,” best of, which chronicled their career through the 80’s. This one handle’s the 90’s and 2000’s. Which itself is the problem.

The 90’s were a controversial time for maiden fans to begin with. Most consider No Prayer for the Dying and Fear of the Dark to be the weakest Dickinson-era albums, with opinions ranging from flat out hatred, to those who consider them good, just not up to par. Adding to the fact that after these albums was the replacement of Bruce with a singer that many consider to be inferior, and the writing of two albums often considered inferior. Now, no Blaze tracks actually appear. Any songs he sang in-studio are represented by a live version with Bruce on vocals. Two of these three “Bruce versions” are from Rock In Rio, and the other was a B-Side, so there’s no previously unreleased tracks to gain fan support.

That being said, all of the essential 90s songs are there. “Fear of the Dark,” although a live version is here, along with “The Clansman,” “Be Quick or Be Dead,” and “Bring Your Daughter…” all appear here, although even though I like “Holy Smoke,” I wouldn’t have included it, and would have replaced it in favor of “Mother Russia.” In fact, many songs here actually don’t seem necessary, like “Tail Gunner,” which myself along with a few reviewers before me have called a poor man’s “Aces High.” And I goddamn love “Afraid to Shoot Strangers,” but I don’t know that I’d include it, since maiden doesn’t really have many other songs like it. Isn’t the point of a best of to interest the uninitiated? One interesting note, is that despite being named “From Fear to Eternity,” obviously a play on “Fear of the Dark” and “From Here to Eternity,” the latter song is not featured on this set.

Anyway, with 2000’s “Brave New World,” Maiden seemed back track toward pleasing fans, and “Dance of Death,” while not as universally applauded, seemed to please most fans. “A Matter of Life and Death” seemed to be something of a love it or hate it album, and “The Final Frontier” seemed fairly well received, this being from my own experiences as a fan, and with other fans. But none of these four albums seem to sit as well with fans as their heyday material. And this is important because it makes one wonder, who this compilation is geared towards? As someone trying to discover a new band, why would you want to purchase an album of the best songs during a controversial band period? You want to put out the best you have to offer for a “Best Of.” Sure it says “The Best Of 1990-2010,” but there’s no disclaimer saying “by the way, this isn’t considered our golden era.” So it SHOULDN’T be for new fans. Maybe if they bought “Somewhere Back in Time,” which by the way, why is that one disc, and this one two? Surely the band’s Golden Era should deserve more coverage. And it’s surely not for fans, who should really have everything on this to begin with. I really don’t understand.

So while this is a fairly solid Best Of for this era of Maiden, I don’t get why it needs represented as a standalone compilation. There’s nothing Here for old fans, and new fans should pass this over in favor of a “Greatest Hits” that at least has the decency to include… you know… their greatest hits. If you’re new to Maiden, Number of the Beast, while not their best by a long shot, is a safe bet, and if you NEED a best of, Best of the Beast or Somewhere Back In Time should do it. Or Ed Hunter if that still exists at a reasonable price. The game isn’t great, but the track listing is the best I’ve seen.