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There comes a point and time where if one follows a veteran band long enough, redundant and even pointless non-studio album releases will start to crop up like crazy. The colloquial term for these albums is that of a “cash grab”, but often times this label won’t do justice to the situation of one of these releases. “Visions Of The Beast” is not quite a cash grab to the younger Iron Maiden fan who is not in possession of the sizable collection of VHS tapes from the band’s 80s and early 90s days, but for those who have most of these releases (despite the lower video quality) and who are not particularly fond of the material released after “Fear Of The Dark”, the appeal here is fairly limited.
Insofar as the contents of this rather posh package of CGI imagery and cardboard casing, there’s plenty of music videos that don’t get any love on MTV or VH1 (though neither channel has been interested in much apart from reality TV shows of late). From the extremely low budget and very tongue-in-cheek rendering of “Women In Uniform” with a very primitive version of Eddie, all the way to the brief reenactment of “The Wicker Man” with the spectacle of a giant burning totem, the band shows all newcomers their unique ability to be both humorous and serious without missing a beat. The videos tend to vary in quality depending on the era of the band, although a fairly good collection of camera angles and dark imagery make “Virus” and “Man On The Edge” decent in spite of being little more than band shots.
The principle problem with this collection is that, well, it’s a collection. Apart from a fairly impressive menu screen with loads of graphics that conform pretty closely to the “Ed Hunter” imagery that would immediately precede the Bruce and Adrian reunion, there’s not much here apart from a collection of videos. There’s no commentaries on any of the videos, and apart from the “Camp Chaos” variations on a few classics, which are a merging of older band footage with newly crafted 2-D animation of about the same quality as the 2nd Heavy Metal movie, little else apart from a few newer videos to tag onto the already released ones that have since appeared on multiple VHS releases. There’s a good deal to like about this, but there definitely could have been a lot more.
This can be seen as an essential purchase of a younger fan who doesn’t want to blow money on an obsolete music video collection from the 80s in a dated visual medium, but those who already know the band and have all the essential releases are probably not going to be terribly impressed by this. Why blow $20 on a DVD for a few classic songs with a slightly tweaked version of their original videos and a really bad CGI video of the worst song on the band’s worst album in “The Angel And The Gambler”? But hey, at least it’s not as pointless as “Edward The Great”, if that counts for anything.
The first thing that should be made clear about this 2 DVD set is that it is essential for anyone who doesn't own any old VHS tapes with the Iron Maiden videos on. And even if you own the enhanced reissues with the CD-ROM videos on, you should get it anyway, for increased video quality and some that were not present on the CDs. There are a couple missing such as the live clips from around the first couple of albums and the Live After Death footage (the Live After Death video should get reissued as a DVD!). No biggie though.
The older VHS owners and Maiden fans could probably live without owning this. The few Camp Chaos videos as extras really don't hold up as strongly as the originals to make them necessary material, though the end of the Aces High video featuring Lars just has to be seen I suppose! They're enough for a few chuckles. The menu kind of takes a moment to work out what you're doing, you have to select the various Eddie heads to find out what section of the DVD they are for, which is kind of unnecessary.
It is pretty much every Maiden promo video made, from the low budget early vids, through the kind of dated and restricted special effects of the mid 80s classics, through the kind of lavish sets covering the mediocrity of some of the early 90s period, and finally though the tacky, outdated CG of the late Blaze era to a stop after Rock In Rio. It's a mix up of super classics, some other fairly fun songs and some tripe too. I got a glimpse of the eras of the band after Seventh Son before making that plunge into buying the albums. And also put me off the Blaze Bayley albums for all eternity, except Futureal, a good song and good enough video. I'll otherwise probably never watch them again (I did try, and watched them all several times!). There's much fun to be had still, it's not all a reapeat of "The Angel and the Gambler" and it's tired and outdated CG showing off. The Wicker Man is not perhaps as good as it might have been, I just can't get into the feel of it so much, but love the song. The early 90s videos have a lot of redeeming qualities, such as the pure comedy and silliness of "Holy Smoke", featuring Steve Harris playing bass on a moving tractor, Dave Murray performing a blistering solo whilst standing in a stream complete with wellies, topping it all off with Bruce's facial expressions and it makes the song a little more than it probably would be on album. The smutty old early 90s feel of "From Here To Eternity" does a decent enough job to the same effect. The older videos should really need no reviewing, each is a classic despite their age and budget, and are always great to watch. It may be a gateway into Maiden though no "greatest hits" package, I don't think there has been one from this band I've been satisfied with anyhow.
I think that a potential fan of Iron Maiden should pick some albums first, then heed this recommendation to go out and buy it. Far from perfect with a little disappointment on the menu and extras side, there's not too much and those Camp Chaos vids gets tired after a while. It's the best thing if you don't want to spend your time and money locating those old out of print VHS copies, which for a newer or less than die hard fan probably won't be a priority.
Here's the deal folks. Maiden packaged all of their videos, many of which never saw any airplay of any kind, into one big two disc set, with some nice menu's and a few extra's. Now, to review the thing.
The songs themselves are for the most part fantastic as you'd expect, this comp actually featuring more of Maiden's best than the atrocious Edward the Great hits pack released last year. You can't deny a rolecall like this: "The Trooper", "Aces High", "2 Minutes to Midnight", "The Flight of Icarus", "The Wicker Man", "Be Quick or Be Dead", "Wrathchild", "Wasted Years", "Fear of the Dark(live)", "Hallowed Be Thy Name(live)", "Run to the Hills", "The Evil That Men Do", "Infinite Dreams", "Stranger in a Strange Land"... okay, I need to sit down. Anyway, Iron Maiden has a catalogue that stands in that hallowed land of the truly iconic. Their early albums (Iron Maiden thru Piece of Mind) are unbelievable. They're untouchable.
However, their videos are quite emphatically touchable. The video's range from good ("Holy Smoke", "Be Quick or Be Dead", "The Wicker Man", "2 Minutes to Midnight") to the laughably bad ("The Angel and the Gambler", "From Here to Eternity", "Virus", "Women in Uniform"). I mean, man, what were they thinking with the Blaze videos? Iron Maiden has had a hard-on for CGI for a while now (check Ed Hunter *bleech*), but man those are some bad effects. "Man on the Edge" at least has some cool band shots, but "Angel and the Gambler", all six or seven minutes of it, is almost completely CGI. And it's AWFUL.
And it's not just the new ones that suck. Look at "The Number of the Beast". Nonsensical clap-trap, and what was going on with Bruce's hair? The Piece of Mind vids are cool, and you gotta love em for including a rollicking version of "Wrathchild", but why was a video shot for "Women in Uniform"? "Running Free" was the single from Iron Maiden, and it's a much better song. Although perhaps it’s better that I don't have to watch it get massacred like WIU is. Both of the Powerslave videos work well, "Aces High" is one of their most famous vids, and "2 Minutes" is one of the rare instances where a full-out concept vid works for the band. Tons of Seventh Son stuff too, "Can I Play With Madness?" being particularly bad save for the fact that Graham Chapman of Monty Python fame is in it. I always hated that song too. But man, electric renditions of "Infinite Dreams" and "The Evil That Men Do". No excuse for three songs from No Prayer either, although "Holy Smoke" is absolutely hilarious. The live performance of "Tailgunner" feels weak, and the "Bring Your Daughter" vid concept (with old stock footage from a black and white horror flick) is running seriously thin after having it rammed down your throat about five times previous.
On to vid 2, lots of FOTD stuff, which is okay by me. "Wasted Love" is cheesy as hell, but still fairly powerful, and "Be Quick or Be Dead" is my hyperkinetic fav of the Maiden video catalogue. "From Here to Eternity" though...whew, this is like a terrible version of a terrible hair band video. Who comes up with this shit? Anyhoo, live versions of "Hallowed" and "FOTD", the former strong, the latter weak especially compared to FOTD from Rio included on the disk. The aforementioned Blaze videos are best forgotten, just like the albums, "Virus" being amateurish, "Afraid to Shoot Strangers" from FOTD making me long for Bruce, and the rest being awful in that Blaze-era way that requires no further words to describe. Finally, some Brave New World stuff, "The Wicker Man" awesome, "Out of the Silent Planet" weak, "Brave New World" energetic and inspired.
Special features, a bit thin. The Camp Chaos vids are fun, but no featurettes? I'd loved to hear the band talking about all the vids...why no commentaries?
Stand-Outs: Flippin’ awesome package, “Be Quick or Be Dead”, “The Wicker Man”, “Holy Smoke”
This is one of the best compilations on dvd I have seen, if not the best. It offers everything Maiden has done from 1980-2001. It has a ton of great videos. It has alot of the videos for songs that they don't preform live on thier dvd Rock In Rio. So its nice to see a video to those forgotten songs. Like Wasting Love, Stranger in a Strange Land, and Out of a Silent Planet to name a few. It also includes some great classics two.
A few things I had about it are a slow and cumbersome dvd menu screen, which plays part of a song when you move to different options, it gets kinda annoying. Also one thing that really bothered me is that they don't include two great classic live videos I have seen, that is Powerslave and Iron Maiden. It would be nice if they included as well Remember Tomorrow.
Most of the videos on here are pretty good. Fear of the Dark, Stranger in a Strange Land, and Brave New World are the best ones. For a few of the vids the band has their live preformance, then the studio version of the song over it. It would have been nice if they used the live versions, it would have added intensity to it.
Other than these things I can't complain about it. This dvd should be purchased because it has so many classic and great videos on them, some are just so great they give me goose bumps. If you like seeing Maiden preform songs, then get this album, because most of the vids on this dvd are of that. I am taking points off for the dvd menu screen and the few missing tracks I love. But what they did put on here is great.