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Among the many tepid singles that came out of the Blaze Bayley years of Iron Maiden, this was one of the better ones. It’s not nearly up to par with anything that the band put out with Paul Di’anno and only moderately better than the worst of the early 90s work with Bruce Dickinson, but it’s still a pretty fun listen if you go for Maiden’s signature songwriting and are not overly obsessed with the style of vocalist putting the melodies to the music. Blaze’s vocal performance is basically strong because on every song on here he’s mostly in his element, although occasionally his voice does struggle with some of the high notes on the live material.
It’s somewhat ironic that a live version of “The Evil That Men Do” made it on here, because the main riff of the single’s title song is very close to one of the riffs from that song. Naturally what surrounds the riff on “Futureal” is a really dense barrage of bass chords that fit in more with the bands’ 90s material, but there is an overall feeling of trying to reach back with this song. It’s very simple and it’s mostly effective, although compared to the extremely basic songs on “Iron Maiden” and “No Prayer For The Dying” it’s pretty primitive riff wise.
The live songs on here are basically solid in their delivery, though the absence of Dickinson is really felt on “The Evil That Men Do”. Of all of the songs from the 80s that the band performed live with Bayley, this is the one that he tended to struggle with the least, mostly because it doesn’t spend much time in the upper register of the air raid siren’s vocal range. The live version of “Man On The Edge” is solid, as has been the case with whoever performs this song. It basically plays and sings itself because it’s very well written and brilliantly merges the melancholy melodies of Maiden’s early 90s sound with the riffing approach heard in the mid-80s.
Today this single is pretty rare, but if you can find it and you’re either a completist or a Blaze fan, it would be worth the effort. Maiden never put out a live album with Bayley, and in spite of the extremely cheesy and over the top special effects oriented music video for “The Angel And The Gambler” found on here, there aren’t many weak moments. Blaze and Maiden both went on to do bigger and better things after this, but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a valiant effort with a few rewards to show for it.
While this single is a bit hard to find, it is worth tracking down because, along with the Angel and the Gambler singles, it contains the only official live material recorded with Blaze Bayley. But first, Futureal itself. This is a good song, in the vein of Be Quick or Be Dead, a fast and catchy album opener, and it probably should have been the first single from the album, as its appeal would undoubtedly have been greater than the appeal of the cumbersome Angel and the Gambler. Better late than never, I suppose.
Now, on to the b-sides. First we get to hear the Evil that Men Do, with the lyrics butchered by Blaze, but aside from his memory lapse it is a solid rendition of the song. Following that we get Man on the Edge, the first single from the X-Factor, and once again it is a solid rendition. Finally, Maiden continues their 90s tradition of including a video clip, this time for the Angel and the Gambler, and the enjoyable video is made better by the fact that this is an edited version of the song, which doesn't drag so much.
All in all then, this is essential for Maiden completists and a good pickup for the more casual fan, who's interested in the Blaze era.