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A blaze of classic rock. - 80%

hells_unicorn, May 2nd, 2009

“The X Factor” was almost as much a rock album as it was a metal album, not only in how the character of the guitars was softened, but also in how the songwriting was cut back to something more akin to a late 70s revisiting of the roots of the NWOBHM. This particular release is the best representation of said albums parallel nature with pre-metal rock of the hard and progressive variety as it sits one of their barest, plainest, and catchiest songs alongside two well respected hits by two well known bands from the 70s British rock scene. Needless to say, the influences are fairly blatant, although Iron Maiden takes both of these songs into a somewhat harder edged direction.

“My Generation” is a natural selection for this band as it gives Steve Harris plenty of instances to show his dominance as a player and as a general force in the band. Blaze has a pretty easy time hitting all of Roger Daltrey’s notes, though his huskier voice punches to the forefront even with a similarly distant sounding vocal mix to the original approach used in the original version. Part of what makes this sort of song work better for Bayley than Bruce Dickinson’s material is that the high notes are shouted rather than sung and held out.

“Doctor Doctor” proves to be a bit more interesting as it is heavily similar to Maiden’s signature sound of catchy yet drawn out songs. That expressive and melodic guitar solo at the beginning over that droning accompanying guitar has been applied in varying ways by Maiden going all the way back to their debut album. The principle chord progression is very similar to the one employed on the chorus of the title track of this single, although a little bit slower in tempo and with a less repetitive vocal line. Once again, Blaze puts forth a solid and impressive vocal delivery, getting out all of those tricky high notes with his lower end baritone range without breaking into a less tuneful shouting voice.

This is basically something that would be essential for any fan of the Blaze years if it wasn’t so damned hard to come by now. The covers on here are among the best performances that Blaze ever did with the band, and show a clear picture of where this band came from. The b-sides definitely tower over the a-side here, though “Lord Of The Flies” is a fairly decent song. It’s definitely a whole lot more interesting than some of the crappy cover albums of classic rock songs that have come out in the past couple of years.