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Maiden Live - 70%

Zaphod, September 25th, 2005

"A Real Dead One" comes as one half of the recordings of the '92 Fear of the Dark World Tour, with "A Real Live One" being the other half and "Live at Donington" an additional limited edition album; all of them thus being at the time the last live recordings with Dickinson. "A Real Dead One" contains songs from the pre-Live After Death era, and as I can assure that it is nowhere near as good as that one, one should consider it an obligatory buy to complete the loyal fan's collection.

General let-downs of this album:
1. An overall bad production, which was obviously Harry's intention, but which does not add to the quality. The crowd is too loud, the guitars are too weak and the bass has too little bass (my experience learns that this must be due to the production and not to the PA of the show).
2. A generally dull track-listing. I am a fervent Maiden-fan, but don't stand up and cheer to hear for the zillionth time the ol' big hits played with little to no variation to the previous live recording.
3. Musicianship: fairly not up to the Maiden standards if I may say so. The leads are okay, but not exceptional; the bass is not up to its fame (as is unfortunately quite usual with Harry's live performances of late); the singer is still Dickinson, but not half as good as he should be. That is, any band may dream to make a live recording half as good as this one and be told to dream on, but hey, this is Maiden, and it's clear that there was little time left for this line-up. Besides, Gers is not up to Smith's parts, sorry to say that but it's true.

But consider these positive points:
1. Nicko is there, and makes me regret my choice to pick up the bass in stead of the drums. Come hell or high water, Nicko is there and he garantuees to bring you the core of what I often regard as one of the key elements of Maiden's succesful golden years. McBrain is an exceptional drummer, and manages to get this and any record going along, no matter what, with his catchy and creative fills. Favourite drummer N° 1, and I must own any Maiden live album to hear what he's been up to again.
2. The track listing has also several merits:
-"Remember Tomorrow" is well-performed, and also very well sung by Bruce.
-"Where Eagles Dare" is one of the greatest Maiden songs, and although it's impossible to preserve the atmosphere of the studio version on a live show, it's still pretty decent and well sung.
-"Sanctuary": improvisation, it's a rare thing with Maiden but it's here indeed.
-"2 Minutes": well, it's great, just great, even though it's not the same as when performed with Adrian on Live After Death.
The tracks not mentioned above are rather weak, even the unusual "Transylvania". I pray each day for some diversification in Maiden's setlists, but one has to be lucky when they play one unusual song (like Lord of the Flies during the Dance of Death tour). I also pray that they would leave behind the faster-is-better-attitude and slow down again to fit the tempo of the studio versions more. I even pray for private gigs and cheaper t-shirts.

Anyway, keep in mind that most of these tracks were recorded after Bruce's announcement of his leaving Maiden, and that thus, these were his farewell performances. Looking with hind-sight, however, kind of downgrades this record and makes it less unique.

70% for the great music (come what may, it's still Maiden).