I’ll throw it out — Edward the Great is the greatest Iron Maiden disc ever.
Why? Because this is the best of the best baby, the cream of the crop. And unlike some other bands’ half-assed “best of” discs, which are padded with rare demos or other filler pulled out from under the artist’s bed, here you have sixteen classic Maiden tunes which have been remastered and paraded in front of you like models at some sort of heavy metal fashion show. Although Edward the Great was released at the same time as Eddie’s Archive (the six-disc box set consisting of BBC Archives, Beast Over Hammersmith, and The Best Of The B-Sides), don’t let that mislead you. The two albums are two totally separate releases, with no common tracks between them.
If you’re not familiar with Iron Maiden then this is the CD for you, as it’s basically a crash-course in Maiden’s 25 year history. “Run to the Hills”, “The Number of the Beast”, “Flight of Icarus”, “The Trooper” … and those are just the first four tracks on the disc! I would never call myself a huge Maiden fan, but on the way to dinner last night, you can bet your ass I was belting out some choruses on the freeway. “RUUUN TOOO THAAA HILLSSSS … RUUUN FOOOR YOOOOUR LIIIIIIIIIIFE …”
But it doesn’t stop there. After leaving behind the sing-a-long “Wasted Years”, listeners are plunged headfirst into Maiden’s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son era. “Can I Play with Madness,” “The Evil That Men Do,” and “The Clairvoyant” had me reliving my youth. I could hardly resist the temptation to pull out an ink pen and scrawl “Eddie Lives” on my pants, or head to the flea market to get an Iron Maiden patch for my jean jacket (in retrospect, I don’t think I even HAVE a jean jacket anymore).
Nu-metal fans will appreciate “Infinite Dreams”, since this is where Papa Roach stole the guitar riff for “Last Resort” from. After hearing this track though, there will be no doubt as to who the true innovators were. After banging out two more semi-classics Maiden tracks, the album takes a brief nose dive into the “Blaze Bayley” years — yes, those unfortunate years when Dickinson left the band, handing the vocal duties over to Bayley (formerly of Wolfsbane). Bayley does what he can to carry the group along, but I ended up skipping those two tracks anyway. Bayley’s okay, but let’s face it, he’s no Bruce Dickinson (and who is?). It’s not like saying you like the Sammy Hagar Van Halen era; it’s like saying the Gary Cherone years were your favorite. (Incidentally, Paul Di’Anno, the original vocalist for Iron Maiden, doesn’t even make an appearance on the disc.) Fortunately, the disc swings back and ends on a bang with “Fear of the Dark” from their 2001 Rock In Rio show. The last track proves that, yes, there are still SOME bands that sound as good live as they do in the studio.
The CD comes with a very nice booklet, complete with a few pictures of the band, complete lyrics for all the tracks, and an introduction by Steve Harris. The theme of “Edward the Great” is carried throughout the booklet with black and gold pages, and a killer new picture of Eddie. Sitting in his throne with royal scepter in hand and wrapped in king’s robes, Eddie is surrounded by some mean lookin’ dogs, complete with growling teeth and glowing red eyes. The entire painting is a throwback to the old days of rock.
I remember being slightly frustrated with Motley Crue’s Decade of Decadence, because it teased me just enough with the old songs to make me want to break out all the old albums again. In that respect, long time fans of the band may grow tired of this disc quickly as they surely already know and love all these songs. I will, however, strongly recommend this CD to people who are either non-Maiden fans, or casual Maiden fans. If you’ve been curious about Iron Maiden, but didn’t know where to start listening, this disc is the answer. Casual Maiden fans (such as myself) will recognize the majority of these tracks from MTV. With such a wide selection of songs from different eras, you can use this CD as a sort of “time line” to determine which era of Maiden tunes you like the best, and hone in on those albums if you want more.
And, oh yes, after hearing this, you WILL want more. All hail Eddie!
01. Run To The Hills
02. The Number Of The Beast
03. Flight Of Icarus
04. The Trooper
05. 2 Minutes to Midnight
06. Wasted Years
07. Can I Play with Madness
08. The Evil That Men Do
09. The Clairvoyant
10. Infinite Dreams
11. Holy Smoke
12. Bring Your Daughterto The Slaughter
13. Man On The Edge
15. The Wicker Man
16. Fear Of The Dark (Live in Rio)