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As one of the most popular forces in all metal music, with over 30 years of history, you can bet Iron Maiden is the sort of band who have released countless singles, EPs, compilations, and other debris into the marketplace, many of which are simply not worth the cost of the materials they are printed on, having been rendered useless through their inclusion elsewhere. The No More Lies EP, which was released post- one of the band's most mediocre albums, Dance of Death, and it is quite an extravagant package. Openly billed a 'Souvenir', it was released as a one year anniversary to the full-length, which is horseshit, since there was little to nothing about that album worth celebrating.
It is, in fact, a voluntary extortion in which fans can give Iron Maiden even more money than they already have (keep in mind this is a band paid 100s of thousands of dollars for individual live performances). But it IS voluntary, so it's not like the Ministry of Media Culture shows up at your door with a cattle prod to make sure you've purchased your copy. As far as its contents, I'd have to consider it more of an aesthetic value, for the 12 page spread included, quite rare for an EP release. There are three tracks and a video clip, including the titular and redundant "No More Lies", which we've already got on Dance of Death itself. The other two songs are also taken from the album, but appear here in alternate versions. In the case of "Paschendale", we are give an orchestral treatment which in my opinion is far superior to the original, and leads to me believe that the entire Dance of Death recording might have benefited from this approach. As for the electric version of "Journeyman", that too is superior, but the song is still not very interesting (the original is one of the most mundane tracks Maiden have written outside of Virtual XI).
But hidden at the end of "Journeyman" is a strange little rendition of "Age of Innocence" with Nicko McBrain speaking out some of the vocals and ad-libbing as if it were some Monty Python skit. This is amusing once or twice, especially when he starts 'singing' the guitar solo, and to be honest I would possibly buy an entire album of him doing this. The video is a typical live performance video which matters very little, and there is also a wristband included...which you can put on to stroke yourself to your Eddie posters and Live at Donnington.
It's a pretty package, but I can't help but feel it would have been better served towards a longer release, with maybe 5-6 songs that you can't get anywhere else. "Paschendale" with orchestra is the most vital part of the EP, and I think more of this would have been lovely, and well worth the money. A re-hashed studio track, Nicko McBrain 'skit', wristband and another forgettable version of "Journeyman" are just not valuable components for a fan package, unless those fans are truly numb in the grey matter.
This EP is only really worth buying if you're a Maiden fanatic like me. There isn't really a lot of groundbreaking or insanely interesting things on offer here, but well, what can I say? I'm a Maiden maniac!
The version of "No More Lies" is the same as on the studio album. An epic and quite atmospheric track, but somewhat lacking IMO
The orchestral mix of "Paschendale" should IMO have been on the album. I prefer this version for some reason, just like with the orchestral version of "Dance of Death"
And next we have the electric version of "Journeyman", and I honestly prefer the acoustic version since it gives the album a really nice and calm ending
And finally we have the hilarious "Age of Innocence...How Old?" sung by none other than Mr. Nicko McBrain himself! The vocals and Nicko's comments when he loses place are insane! The only gripe I have about this is that 6 minutes (!) of silence between this and the electric version of "Journeyman" is hard to stomach
As I said earlier, only buy this if you're a Maiden fanatic
This is a collector's item aimed at a niche part of the iron maiden fan world. For the casual listener there is really nothing new in this box. You get tracks from the new album, a thin booklet and little else.
For the fans this is an essential rarity, you get the Iron Maiden wristband but you also get some great stuff.
'Paschendale (orchestral)' - is pretty good, nowhere near the blinding remix of 'dance of death' on the 'rainmaker' single but still a good listen, spoiled a bit as the orchestral parts drown out some of the guitars, but it is great to hear things such as the choir and horns which weren't as audible in the mastering of Dance of Death
Journeyman (electric) - Now this is astonishing, the guitars work amazing well with some brilliant leads courtesy of Adrian Smith. Still no real solo (although Adrian did an awesome spanish/blues one live!) of such but alot here and the feel is captured exceptionally well. Fans are divided over whether this version is actually better than the album version. I prefer to abstain and instead revel in the bliss of two excellent versions of one very good song.
Age of innocence (how old?) - Now this is well funny, Nicko must be the most randomly insane guy to feature in line-up anywhere. Some of the stuff he comes out with while singing just makes me crack up. To quote, 'Go on davey old son!' and 'There's no innocence in that solo is there!' This is a listen once and laugh hysterically scenario.
As I said in the title this is not for the casual listener, die-hards need only apply for this. The video for 'No more lies' is also nice, a shame that it isn't 100% live but the fusion of studio over live footage is done much better than on any other attempt (most notable being 'Stranger in a strange land' and 'Fear of the dark'). I think this is worth owning if you can find it, it is strictly limited edition and there are no more commerically being pressed, if you want to collect a modern day rarity this will serve you well.
...this 'thank you', commemorative, celebratory, whateverthefuckyouwanttocallit E.P. is substandard.
To start with, the 'thank you' requires the listener to purchase a four track E.P. and get a whole heap of exclusive stuff in return. The one I got cost me 6.50 English Pounds, which is less than what you'd expect to get it for in larger stores like HMV and Virgin. Did I get any value for money?
1. No More Lies: Studio version. Heard it on the album. Generic Steve Harris epic. Overlong late-90s-trying-to-be-brooding bass intro (c.f. Fortunes of War, Don't Look to the Eyes of a Stranger, The Clansman, The Educated Fool, yawn, yawn). Repetitive chorus (c.f. Fortunes of War, Don't Look to the Eyes of a Stranger, The Clansman, The Educated Fool, yawn, yawn), solo by Adrian Smith saves this one. Good on the live tour, but here in it's dull format in the studio. Worthless. Value so far: £0.00
2. Paschendale (Orchestral). Damn you Kevin Shirley. Firstly, you manage to roll over like a dog and allow 'Arry to fuck you in the arse with his textbook songs which have been done to death (Dream of Mirrors, The Gonad, Blood Brothers). Secondly, you decide to alter the volume settings on a couple of songs and pass them off as 'alternate versions' for release on singles. Twat. Piss off back to Dream Theater and produce some of their limp-wristed wankfests like you did so expertly on Metropolis. Totally shit, barely different from the album version, which is massively over-rated anyway. I'm deducting a pound.
3. Journeyman (Electric version). Ah yes, that's better. I don't know how the hell the acoustic version made the final cut for the album, because this one beats it hands down. Not a concrete solo as such, but loads of lead fills (mostly, if not all, by Adrian) all over the song. A bit of slide guitar to start and a slightly more open composition and arrangement. It's basically a much less boring version than on the album and nicely ambient. Plus 2 quid.
4. Age of Innocence...How Old? Hidden track at the end of Journeyman. It's exactly the same music mix fom the studio, with Bruce's vox cut out and drummer Nicko McBrain ad libbing over the top. Mildly amusing, but not much point if you ask me. I'll give it 25p for novelty value.
Video/DVD - this is a 'live' version of No More Lies from the Dance of Death European tour. However, the music itself is from the studio version just with the audience spliced onto the top and a few chorus sections cut in favour of the crowd singing 'No More Lies'. Good video actually. Been shown on Kerrapp! numerous times though so you've probably all seen it. Another 25p? Yeah go on then...
There's a wristband in the package too so you can prance around your bedroom pretending to be one of the Maidenites if you really want to. Hmmm, £1, if that.
So, total worth of the package? I would say something trite like "you do the math" but I'll spell it out: £2.50 tops = NO VALUE. Literally all you would want to hear is the electric version of Journeyman which is pretty good. Download this, it should be available on soulseek/kazaa lite as I type.
'Thank You' EP? More like 'Fuck You'. Carry on filling the coffers of Sanctuary Towers, it's time for a re-read of The Metal Fetus methinks...