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So, we've got The Trooper. We've all heard The Trooper. We all (sort of) enjoy The Trooper. But we're probably sick of The Trooper. Every live album since Piece of Mind has had The Trooper, as well as every (I think) compilation. But I'm gonna go back in time and review this song (as well as the accompanying cover) as if it were a fresh thing for me.
The Trooper has some really recognizable riff structure. Nice trills, good note-crawling riffs. It's almost a thrash song, about as close as Maiden really tries to get. Musically, it's a mind-blower, I must stress it. The drums are nice and audible, good fills, showing that Nicko will forever chang the beat behind the band from the day he arrived. Bass line are fairly complicated as far as fills go, but much of the verses and chorus lines are thrown into the standard "Harris Gallop" where he makes 3 notes work on an entire verse. Good stuff, but other than the independent intro riff, and some of the solo, nothing to finger-melting.
The joint solos seem to follow the standard for this period of Maiden. Not quite as great as what was to come on Powerslave, but still great. If you listen to the album in it's whole, it would seem as if the guitars were trying to make similar patterns throughout, and basically tie together all the leadwork. Like I said, it's a good start, and will improve as time marches on.
The vocals... Bruce really knocks it up a notch (Bam!) on the new album, and no song proves it like The Trooper does. The high-flying wails and vibrating lows are all dramatic and powerful, fitting the song. Good stuff, a great cohesive song.
Now... Cross-Eyed Mary. Jethro Tull was a great band, and there is alot of proof (especially if you listen to Steve Harris talk) that Jethro Tull influenced Iron Maiden in a profound way. So, this is a fitting cover, as it's one of the Tull songs that displays the bands ties to heavy metal in later years.
The flute solo at the beginning is replaced with guitars, and definitely has the maiden sound... clanky bass, guitar trebeled to maximum sharpness, drums patterned strangely in the Nicko standard. The vocals, I think, are actually overdone. Sad to say it, but Bruce gives it a little too much. Almost as if he was trying too hard to 'make it their own' as many bands try to do with covers. The song is faster than the original, and if you haven't heard said original, you would probably fall in love with this song. I was duly biased by my love for Tull's version.
All together this single is worth buying if you get a chance, mostly for the cover song. Also, for completist value. However, if you aren't a Maiden collecter, the b-side can be found on a later boxset, saving you the trouble of tracking down all the single issues.