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I’ve considered myself to be somewhat a connoisseur in the art of witnessing musicians overcorrect when criticism gets thrown their way, but Maiden really threw me when I first heard this song. The only threshold that this lump of half assed 70s rock drudgery fails to cross is the one set by Black Sabbath at around the same time when they were hit with criticisms of sucking because they got Ice-T to do a duet with Tony Martin on their “Forbidden” album. This was not the band’s worse moment, but the fans didn’t see it that way and thus the band followed it with 10 years of living in the past as Ozzy Osbourne morphed the band from a creative force still putting out music into a sideshow attraction for his own annual self-worship sessions otherwise known as Ozzfest.
Naturally I also believe that like Sabbath’s “Forbidden”, “The X Factor” was a solid yet misunderstood album because it was a pretty big departure from prior efforts. It’s reception was lukewarm, despite being a heavily ambitious album that spawned two fairly good songs that are represented here in live versions. Convinced that what everyone wanted was a return to the plastic banana days of “Bring Your Daughter…To The Slaughter” and “From Here To Eternity”, Steve Harris put away his deep and dark thinking and broke out his occasional fits of tolerable stadium fanfare and injected them with a heavy dose of crack cocaine. What resulted was a song that doesn’t qualify as Metal, but some sort of bastardization of The Who with a slight dash of Motley Crue. The only real silver lining to be found here amid this sea of formulaic sing along moments and endless repetition is that they cut about 3 and ½ minutes of the latter to make the song more bearable than its full length version on “Virtual XI”.
To make matters worse, the level of superiority that the two live songs on here have to the title track is so large that it becomes a really sick joke. You contrast that really insane bass intro to “Blood On The World’s Hands”, which all but makes Geezer Bulter sound as old and behind the curve as his nickname would suggest, and the darkness and varied feelings put forth on “The Aftermath”, you wonder if it’s all the same band or if Maiden did a split release with Pete Townsend with Dave and Janick doing guest lead slots on his latest variation on his pop oriented radio single drivel.
Although “Virtual XI” was basically an all around failure with only a few redeeming moments, this song is the bottom of Maiden’s musical barrel. This is something that a person who is familiar with this band’s entire history is ashamed to admit he has ever heard this. The word for this album is avoid, so quick get out and spread the word.
This Blaze era fixes up one crappy Virtual XI tune and gives us a rare chance to hear what Blaze sounded like live with the masters of Euro-metal. Since it's only three tracks, I have no problem going track by track with this.
The Angel and the Gambler (Edit) - This shorter version is actually quite fun and is a large improvement over the crappy version contained on the album. The shorter versions flows a bit more and sounds kind of like a track by the Who. It's very different and more fun in this form.
Blood on the Worlds Hands (Live): This version is actually pretty intense. Though the mix is a little thin they really put a nail into this one. It makes me wish that Maiden had made at least one live recording with Blaze Bayley...
The Aftermath (Live): My favorite song off The X Factor live!!! Yeah! The vocals are a little dry, but the song is played very well and shows a better mix than the CD version.
This is a short little single with lots of songs of worth...for all Blaze fans they should pick this up.