Welcome to Part II of the Iron Maiden Live Album by Album Challenge! I hope you enjoyed reading the first part. In this 2nd and final installment we will visit the Rock In Rio album on through to the band’s most current live release, Maiden England ’88. If you really liked what you read or just want to dispute Jaymz’s comments, feel free to rave and/or bitch about it on the Brainfart Facebook page! Until then, sit back, get yourself ANOTHER pint of Trooper Ale and enjoy this final installment of the Iron Maiden Live Album by Album Challenge.
Iron Maiden – Rock in Rio
Release Date: March 25, 2002
The Good: The Wicker Man, Ghost of the Navigator, Wrathchild, 2 Minutes to Midnight, Blood Brothers, The Sign of the Cross, The Mercenary, The Trooper, The Clansman, The Evil That Men Do, Fear of the Dark, Iron Maiden, The Number of the Beast, Hallowed Be Thy Name, Sanctuary, Run to the Hills
The Bad: Dream of Mirrors
The Indifferent: the Intro, Brave New World
Maiden’s fifth live album was a nice way to celebrate the return of Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith back into the band and of course give the South American fans a nice souvenir. The show was recorded on the final night of Maiden’s Brave New World Tour on January 19, 2001 at Rock in Rio Festival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. As expected, the crowd here (250,000!) is fantastic throughout this album. The band sounds great too, lots of energy. The song used as the “Intro” is Arthur’s Farewell from the film First Knight and I still roll my eyes when hearing it because it totally copies Ozzy’s use of Orff’s Carmina Burana before his shows. The Wicker Man is a great start to the show and it leads nicely into Ghost of the Navigator. Brave New World is the first misstep and it’s really because of the chorus of the song. Extremely unimaginative and just poor writing on Steve Harris’ part. The rest of the song is decent, but the repetitive chorus makes me want to turn it off.
The band picks it back up with enthusiastic versions of Wrathchild and 2 Minutes to Midnight before launching into the fan-favorite Blood Brothers, which always goes over well. I love the inclusion of Sign of the Cross and The Clansman into the set. Bruce really owns these songs and they’re great to hear live. Sign of the Cross is one of Maiden’s great forgotten epics and it sounds so fantastic with Bruce and the “3 Amigos” filling out the sound. All throughout this album Murray, Smith & Gers really shine and sound especially great on The Trooper. Hearing that riff played by those three guys just slays me. I love Bruce’s reciting of some lines from Charge of the Light Brigade to kick the song off. Next we get to the only bad mistake of the night in Dream of Mirrors. I admit that it comes across much better live than in the studio, but it still takes so long to get to the good part of the song that it’s honestly not worth waiting for.
We get an extremely solid ending of Evil That Men Do > Fear of the Dark > Iron Maiden before a 4 song encore of the Number of the Beast tracks + Sanctuary. Overall this is a fun release and a good way to celebrate Bruce & Adrian’s return to the band. Rock in Rio does show that some of the tunes on Brave New World were a bit weaker than a lot of the other songs, but Maiden got better with each successive album as a 6 piece.
Iron Maiden – BBC Archives
Release Date: November 18, 2002
The Good: Iron Maiden, Running Free, Transylvania, Sanctuary (1) Wrathchild, Run to the Hills, Children of the Damned, The Number of the Beast, 22 Acacia Avenue, Transylvania, The Prisoner, Hallowed Be Thy Name, Phantom of the Opera, Iron Maiden (2), Prowler, Remember Tomorrow, Killers, Running Free, Transylvania, Iron Maiden (3), Moonchild, Wrathchild, Infinite Dreams, The Trooper, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, The Number of the Beast, Hallowed Be Thy Name, Iron Maiden (4)
In 2002 Maiden released a 6-disc box set called Eddie’s Archive and this was the first (and so far, only) time the band has released any “archive” material. The box consists of 3 double-disc sets: BBC Archives, Beast Over Hammersmith and Best of the B-sides. On this collection Disc 1 has BBC sessions from Nov. 14, 1979 and Reading Festival from August 28, 1982. Time constraints forced the band to make this collection not truly chronological, so disc 2 has Maiden’s performance from Reading Festival on August 23, 1980 and finally their Donington Festival show on August 20, 1988. All four shows were hugely important to Maiden’s career and all four are excellent in their own way. As you can see above, there’s not a weak performance to be found in the bunch.
The 1979 BBC sessions are a true treasure because these songs not only have Doug Sampson behind the drums, but also Tony Parsons as the 2nd guitarist. I really enjoyed Parsons’ playing on Sanctuary; he did some great guitar runs there. Paul Di’Anno brings out some great screams on Iron Maiden and the guitars sound especially tasty on Transylvania. These four songs are historic recordings and I love listening to them.
Maiden’s 1982 performance at the Reading Festival is absolutely one of the greatest performances the band has ever recorded. It was their final UK show on the ’82 tour, sandwiched between 2 US legs, and they truly made the most of it. Wrathchild starts it out raw as fuck and they come out of the gate with tremendous energy. Every song from this Reading ’82 set is better than the one before and the band is just beyond great here. Bruce Dickinson sings his ass off for the whole show, but his performance on Children of the Damned is mesmerizing. It’s a lot of fun to hear Maiden play Hallowed Be Thy Name at the original tempo and it’s actually a lot heavier this way. Clive Burr doesn’t get enough props, but he was such an amazing drummer. His performance on Phantom of the Opera is outstanding. The show closes with a great version of Iron Maiden and I just love Bruce’s growl on it. Maiden’s Reading ’82 shows a band full of passion and fire and…they might even be better here than their performance captured on Live After Death. It’s that good.
The second disc goes back a couple of years to Maiden’s 1980 Reading performance and while they’re not as amazing as they were in ’82, this show is still damn good. For me, this show stands out as Clive Burr Fest ’80. He’s an absolute monster throughout. The version of Killers here features different lyrics than the studio version and as you’ll remember from my thoughts on Live at the Rainbow, Paul Di’Anno claims to have written those alternate lyrics “5 minutes” before that gig. Well, here at this Reading show, about 4 months earlier, the lyrics are pretty much the same. There are a few differences, but I think this should completely prove wrong Di’Anno’s boast about coming up with an entire set of lyrics for this song 5 minutes before a gig. It’s certainly possible he adjusted things slightly, but for the most part they were the same in August as in December 1980. That’s Di’Anno for ya!
The last half of disc 2 is a good chunk of Maiden’s first appearance at Castle Donington. Just like the earlier part of the disc was about Clive Burr, this Donington show is about drummer Nicko McBrain. Nicko’s the driving force on all of these tracks and he sounds absolutely ferocious. Check out his playing on Wrathchild and The Trooper in particular. In listening to this show I’m reminded again how much I love Seventh Son the song. That last half, the instrumental bit, is absolutely one of my favorite things Maiden has ever composed. It floors me every time. This Donington show is really good, but I honestly think that the performance captured on the Maiden England ’88 album is the better of the two. I say that even though the crowd here is loud as hell and the closing Iron Maiden is super enthusiastic – it’s a great version of the song and a perfect way to close out this double album.
Iron Maiden – Beast Over Hammersmith
Release Date: November 18, 2002
The Good: Murders in the Rue Morgue, Run to the Hills, Children of the Damned, The Number of the Beast, Killers, 22 Acacia Avenue, Total Eclipse, Transylvania, The Prisoner, Hallowed Be Thy Name, Phantom of the Opera, Iron Maiden, Sanctuary, Prowler
The Indifferent: Wrathchild, Another Life, Drifter, Running Free
Beast Over Hammersmith was originally intended to be a live album/video to come out after the tour for The Number of the Beast, but the band was so disappointed in the video quality that they scrapped the whole idea and went straight into recording Piece of Mind. As for this show, it stayed in the can until the Eddie’s Archive box set in 2002. The show was recorded at London’s Hammersmith Odeon on March 20, 1982, 2 days before The Number of the Beast was in stores. So, a good chunk of these songs had never been heard by the audience (unless they’d seen some other shows on the tour over the preceding weeks). It’s really interesting hearing the non-reaction to songs that are now classics like Number of the Beast and Hallowed Be Thy Name.
Overall the band seems to be playing it safe, which I’m sure was due to the recording of a live album with both video and audio. Murders in the Rue Morgue is a great start to the set with lots of energy. Bruce Dickinson sounds particularly great here. Run to the Hills had been a really successful single and I love hearing the song when it was “new”. It’s a great version here. Even though they were played well, I think that the two new ones in Children of the Damned and NOB brought the energy down a bit. Another aspect that brought this show down a few notches was Bruce’s between-song banter. It’s so casual and just too familiar, like he’s playing to a bunch of his friends. There’s no FIRE in it like he usually has. I think that over the course of this Beast on the Road tour he really became a great front man, but here at the beginning he was just ok. I like seeing the growth and it’s certainly interesting to hear how different he was back in the early days of his tenure with the band.
The band seems to pick up energy starting with Killers and for the most part it continues through the rest of the night. 22 Acacia Avenue, Total Eclipse & Transylvania are all extremely electric and we also get some blistering solos from Murray and Smith in The Prisoner. Hallowed > Phantom > Iron Maiden is a strong set closer, but the encores are a mixed bag. This is a solid show front to back, but I think the bands’ nerves about recording caused some early parts to be a bit more reserved than they would be normally, plus the audience’s unfamiliarity with the new material.
Iron Maiden – Death on the Road
Release Date: August 29, 2005
The Good: Wildest Dreams, Wrathchild, The Trooper, Dance of Death, Rainmaker, Paschendale, Journeyman
The Bad: Can I Play With Madness, Brave New World, Lord of the Flies, No More Lies
The Indifferent: Hallowed Be Thy Name, Fear of the Dark, Iron Maiden, The Number of the Beast, Run to the Hills
This album is REALLY unnecessary. There was a live album after the previous studio album and we don’t need a live album after every studio one. At this point you feel it heading in that direction and I dreaded that because it meant that the live ones were no longer special or even that different from each other.
It was recorded on Nov. 24, 2003 in Dortmund, Germany and while the band plays well, I don’t hear a ton of excitement throughout the whole album. Those “indifferent” tracks above…the band sounds fine on them, but they’re nothing special and we’ve all heard the songs a million times. Before I get to the stuff I actually enjoyed about the set, let me talk about those “bad” songs. Can I Play With Madness is so pointless. Fuck that song. It’s a bad song guys, drop it. I can’t believe that Brave New World is the song they chose to represent that album. It’s a shitty song and besides the awful chorus, the verse melody is horrible. Why bring back Lord of the Flies from the grave? It’s so horrible and No More Lies starts out like it might be a cool song but then that fucking chorus comes in and makes me want to strangle Steve Harris. I’d rather hear Quest for Fire. Those 4 songs are so awful that it makes me want to avoid this album and miss out on the good songs.
Now for the good parts of this album. Except for No More Lies, all of the new Dance of Death tracks sound really fucking good – Paschendale especially. It’s such a great song and an underrated classic for me. I love the solos in here from all three amigos. Paschendale is such a great piece of songwriting. The show kicks off with an electric version of Wildest Dreams and Rainmaker is incredibly solid. Dance of Death, the song, is both head shaking and awesome. The line, “and I danced and I pranced” makes me laugh every time because it’s so awful. The song is ridiculous, but that guitar break after the first section is so damn good and there are a lot of sections of the song that I just dig the hell out of. The music on the song is great, but with the lyrical cheese I’m conflicted on it. I don’t hate it anymore, so that’s something positive I guess. The opening encore of Journeyman was a ballsy choice and I love it. It’s a nice place to catch your breath and appreciate something that Maiden rarely does – an acoustic song. It’s a beautifully played song and I love it. So glad they included it here. They should’ve just made a live EP of Wildest Dreams, Dance of Death, Rainmaker, Paschendale & Journeyman. That would’ve been an excellent release. Instead we’re treated to more versions of the same old “classics” and four incredibly poorly written songs that I never want to sit through again.
Iron Maiden – Flight 666 – The Original Soundtrack
Release Date: May 25, 2009
The Good: Aces High, 2 Minutes to Midnight, Revelations, The Trooper, Wasted Years, The Number of the Beast, Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Powerslave, Heaven Can Wait, Run to the Hills, Fear of the Dark, Iron Maiden, Moonchild, The Clairvoyant, Hallowed Be Thy Name
The Bad: Can I Play With Madness
Like A Real Live/Dead One, Flight 666 was recorded in multiple cities. Maiden turns it up a notch by having every track recorded in a different location. The songs were recorded in February-March 2008 on their Somewhere Back in Time tour that saw them replicate the World Slavery Tour stage setup. Mummy Eddie and all. I caught this tour and it was a fantastic show. This live album shows how well the band played on the tour and you can see the footage on the Flight 666 documentary by Banger Films (it’s fucking excellent, as all the Banger stuff is). The album really isn’t meant to be taken as a “traditional” live album, since there are fadeouts between every song. It’s truly a soundtrack to the movie.
The band was really on fire for this whole tour and you don’t have to go any further than the opener of Aces High to hear how great the band sounds. Though, that Mumbai audience might rival Maiden for enthusiasm…they’re fantastic. Whether it’s Aces High, 2 Minutes, FUCKING MARINER (!!) or any of the rest, the band sounds great. Well, except Madness, but…you know. Even though it was a “theme” tour, a lot of the songs were surprises. Aces High, Wasted Years, Powerslave, Revelations, Rime of the Ancient Mariner or having Moonchild start the encore. There was a lot to be happy about. The classics are here (NOB, Trooper, Hills, Hallowed, Fear, IM) and so everyone’s happy.
Everyone’s on fire right out of the gate on Aces, Nicko’s drum sound on 2 Minutes, the Three Amigos on Trooper, Bruce’s awesome intro to Mariner; really that whole song is amazing. Then there’s the utterly fantastic and mind-blowing encore. I remember when the Brainfart and I were at this tour and they brought out Dave Murray’s acoustic guitar and we were racking our collective brain as to what they’d be playing. We totally lost our shit when they started the “seven deadly sins” line. I still feel that surge when listening on this album. Then having Clairvoyant and Hallowed close out the encore was just perfect. The movie’s better, but this soundtrack to Flight 666 is great fun.
Iron Maiden – En Vivo!
Release Date: March 23, 2012
The Good: The Final Frontier, El Dorado, 2 Midnight to Midnight, The Talisman, Coming Home, Dance of Death, The Trooper, Blood Brothers, The Evil That Men Do, Fear of the Dark, Iron Maiden, The Number of the Beast, Hallowed Be Thy Name
The Bad: Satellite 15, When the Wild Wind Blows
The Indifferent: The Wicker Man, Running Free
Here we find our heroes conquering Santiago, Chile on a perfect April evening (April 10, 2011) in support of their excellent The Final Frontier album. This album starts off pretty cold with Satellite 15 used as an opening tape. I wish they would’ve actually attempted to play this song live as it’s a really cool song. The first “real” song of the night is The Final Frontier and it’s an excellent version. Right off the bat, you can tell that the band’s on fire and sounding great. I absolutely love the transition between The Final Frontier and El Dorado, a perfect segue. El Dorado is a scorcher and definitely the best song on the album. My first thought when hearing it for the first time was, “wow, this rocks balls!” So true.
2 Minutes is a good choice for third song, after the two new ones. Coming Home is another excellent song from the new album and my favorite parts were the Dave Murray & Adrian Smith solos. The audience first truly makes their presence known on Dance of Death. I enjoyed Bruce’s interesting spoken intro to the song. While I still don’t love the song and it’s entirely too wordy, the fast Celtic section in the middle works so great in a live setting. After hearing it here, and twice on the last tour, I’ll say that it’s slowly growing on me. While The Trooper is a great wake up after Dance of Death, Wicker Man just isn’t as powerful as I’ve heard it before. Maybe they’re getting tired at this point, who knows. It’s only an average version.
With Blood Brothers it really hit me that this album is edited to completely remove all interaction between Bruce Dickinson and the audience. Usually before Blood Brothers he talks to the audience a bit, but it’s all been excised for this album. I understand why it’s removed, because you really don’t need it, but it makes listening to the CD not flow as well as it should and I feel like something is missed – that connection with the audience. I miss the between-song banter on this whole album. The final new track of the night is up next, the super-long When the Wild Wind Blows. This song really doesn’t work too well live. It’s so long and repetitive. There are several other epics from The Final Frontier that could’ve worked better live instead of this one. After that, we get the standard end-of-show/encore hits. It really feels like the energy drops on the second half of the album, beginning with Wicker Man/Blood Brothers. The band sounds good, but kind of tired. Still, it’s a good album and the new tracks sound amazing for the most part. El Dorado, Talisman & Coming Home are all fantastic and highlights of the album.
Iron Maiden – Maiden England ‘88
Release Date: March 25, 2013
The Good: Moonchild, The Evil That Men Do, The Prisoner, Still Life, Die With Your Boots On, Infinite Dreams, Killers, Wasted Years, The Clairvoyant, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, The Number of the Beast, Hallowed Be Thy Name, Iron Maiden, Run to the Hills, Running Free, Sanctuary
The Bad: Can I Play With Madness
The Indifferent: Heaven Can Wait
To go along with the DVD release, the audio was cleaned up as well and sounds even better than the original “Maiden England” album release. We get the full show here, where the previous edition had the encore and a few songs taken out to fit on a single disc. I’m glad to have the whole thing. Right off the bat they sound fantastic. This show was recorded Nov 27 & 28, 1988 in Birmingham, UK. The band’s really on fire for this whole show and to be honest, my “bad” and “indifferent” above are just personal preferences. Maiden plays their asses off for the whole show. It’s just a mega-fired up and inspired performance. Really, hearing them like this makes me so happy. They sound amazing.
From the heaviness of Moonchild to the epic intro to Evil That Men Do to the fantastic choruses of Prisoner…one after another Maiden’s in top form. I love the rare songs they did on this tour: Prisoner, Still Life, Die With Your Boots On & Killers. They all sound fantastic. The way Bruce sings Killers is chilling. Di’Anno could never sound so good on it. Steve Harris just owns it on Infinite Dreams. I love hearing him play with such purpose. All throughout this show, hearing him play like this is what inspired me to be a bassist. I have to say, I was not prepared for how beyond great Seventh Son sounds on here. As soon as it started up I got chills and goosebumps. They are just on fire with this song and it’s a beautiful thing. It’s the best track on the album; the highlight of a fantastic set. The closing classics of Beast, Hallowed & Iron Maiden are excellent and then we get an enthusiastic encore of Hills, Running Free and Sanctuary. The crowd gets wonderfully loud in Running Free – so much fun.
This album is the absolute best way to end this challenge. I am so glad they remastered it along with the DVD. I love this show so much and it belongs right alongside Live After Death and Reading ’82 in the pantheon of amazing Maiden live albums. They were at the top of their game in 1988 and touring behind a near-perfect album so it makes perfect sense that Maiden England would be so damn good.
I have to say, it was a lot to listen to so much live Iron Maiden. Maiden’s my favorite band and I’ve heard all these albums countless times in my life, Life After Death especially. The nature of the band (generally conservative in their set choices, with an eternal emphasis on the classics) means that I was going to get a lot of repeats throughout these albums. Most of the time I didn’t mind because, firstly, they almost always put everything they’ve got into every song. Yeah, there are dips here and there, but I’m astounded that they can play the song Iron Maiden every single night and it always sounds like they really mean it and really want to be playing it. The other reason I (mostly) didn’t mind sitting through so many repeats is that I got to compare the little differences between versions: Nicko pushing the beat ever so slightly, Dave’s guitar improvisations, Bruce’s every vocal nuance, Adrian’s way of crafting solos, Steve’s power as the rock of the group, Clive’s eternal creativity…and Janick’s…Janick-ness. He’s an original, that’s for sure.
Here’s a tally of some of the songs: 14 Iron Maidens, 11 Hallowed & Beasts, 9 Wrathchilds/Run to the Hills/Running Frees, 8 Troopers, 7 for Sanctuary and 6 Fear of the Darks & 2 Minutes to Midnights. It felt like more, but there were only 5 times I had to sit through Can I Play With Madness. That balanced out with the 5 versions each of Phantom and Transylvania.