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The First Ten Years: Part X
The Clairvoyant/Infinite Dreams EP is the 10th and final release in the First Ten Years collection. If you've been saving your pennies and spending them on each of these double-single packs, you would have now owned the vouchers required to order the box set in which to store them! Congratulations. You now own a collection of largely redundant singles with a few worthwhile B-sides that are possibly available somewhere else. In all seriousness, though, if you've got this entire set and it's in good condition, more than likely you can make some money off it (through online auctions or a metal market at a convention).
Interestingly, like the Running Free/Run to the Hills EP, this offering consists only of live material from the two original singles. So The Clairvoyant (1988) is missing the studio version of that song, but otherwise they are reprinted normally. The live offerings off of that include "The Clairvoyant", "The Prisoner" and "Heaven Can Wait", all from the 1988 Monsters of Rock tour at Donington Park, and they all sound great here. A good, airy soundboard recording, and how often do we get to hear "The Prisoner" live? I was most impressed with that track of the three.
The Infinite Dreams single from 1989 features three more live tracks, from a performance in Birmingham England. "Infinite Dreams" and "Killers" are no surprise, but then we are given the live treatment of "Still Life" from the Piece of Mind album, not something we hear every day, and the novelty helpts give it the edge over some of the more common selections. After these tracks we are given closure with the final "Listen With Nicko!" segment, and thank the stars for that. He does seem rather thankful here for being given the chance to communicate all these anecdotes to the fans, and thanks them for the band's success and buying this collection, so in the end you don't feel so down on the guy. He does seem rather enthusiastic to be finished his 'mumbling'.
The one big problem with this EP (and so many of the other First Ten Years singles) is that all the material is available elsewhere, through later releases. For example, all of these tracks are available on the bonus disc to the 1995 re-issue of Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. And the Infinite Dreams live tracks are available on the Maiden England CD. So there is a limited value at best, unless you have passed on those or you were collecting as these things hit the shelves. But as for the content, all the songs sound pretty good, definitely a positive live experience that you'll enjoy beaming out of your car or drunk at a party.
Judging by the fact that 2000 has already come and gone without another series of EPs called The Second Ten Years, I doubt we'll see another marketing strategy like this one. There are certainly enough singles out there since Infinite Dreams. Perhaps the band will simply gather the material up on full-length compilation albums, a cheaper alternative for the fans. In today's economic climate, I just don't see something like this happening, except perhaps a virtual version on something like iTunes But then again, we got the Somewhere Back in Time compilation...so expect the worst.
One of the better of all those “First 10 Years” EPs that were all put out on 1990 and the last thing before Adrian Smith went along with Maiden’s glory years, “The Clairvoyant” is a collection of live songs that all were off the “Maiden England” concert, which as far as I’m concerned the best live performance this band ever pulled off. The magic that put together Maiden’s 2 greatest albums with Bruce at the helm is fully on display throughout this concert, free of all the needless ad lib nonsense and really sloppy shouting that Bruce would indulge in during his remaining time with the band after this, and loaded with great songs that the band doesn’t seem to play much nowadays.
Compared to the lackluster “Live After Death”, which for some strange reason gets to be re-released on DVD while the material on here is still stuck in out of print status, this is a sizable improvement in both the vocal department and in terms of instrumental performance. Although I’m personally partial to Adrian Smith’s playing, Dave Murray clearly steals the show here, particularly during the lead sections of “The Clairvoyant” and “Still Life”, the latter of which sounds even better than the studio version with the added keyboard part. Steve Harris gets a little bit over zealous on the bass during some of the faster sections, Bruce shies away a little bit from some of the high notes on “The Prisoner”, but this is basically as close to a flawless performance as this band has ever pulled off collectively.
The absolute climax of the EP occurs during “Infinite Dreams”, which is where everything just comes together for everyone. Bruce hits all of the high notes at full power, Adrian and Dave basically recreate the exact atmosphere that was on the studio version, and Nicko makes a great ruckus without missing a single beat. It’s an all out spellbinding performance, especially considering that this is one of the most complex songs these guys had put together at this time, save maybe “Alexander The Great”.
If you’re a real Iron Maiden fanatic then there’s also a nice little 11 minute rant by Nicko, mostly dealing with how the tour was, in a fairly casual and slapstick fashion. If not, well there is always the option of dusting off that old, obsolete VCR of yours and trying to track down a second hand copy of the still out of print “Maiden England” video. But if you really want to do something constructive, get together with some friends and send letters demanding that this amazing concert be released in DVD format, preferably with some bonus features. Up the irons!!!