Release Date: July 12, 2005
Reviewed by Jeff Brinn

It’s been well over twenty years since I can first remember laying my feeble eyes on an Iron Maiden record. I can still remember how damn cool the cover was sitting on the import shelf at my local record store. Eddie, the monstrous mascot with all his visual might, staring at me like something out of a favorite horror movie was just the icing on the cake to what would be one of the best $6:99 I have ever spent. Being a huge fan of Kiss at the time (I was probably 11 so please give me a little slack) Iron Maiden seemed like the most logical step for me to partake; with my hero’s Kiss falling prey to the hair band trends that were in full force at that time. Later with the release of the now legendry “Killers” album this recording would easily become one of the biggest tools of planting the eternal seed of Heavy Metal in my blood. Iron Maiden by all means stood for exactly what heavy metal is supposed to be, load and dangerous. Little did I know at the time that these 12 inch slabs of imported vinyl from across the shores would make such a lasting impression as they did on my love for heavy metal.

Well jump to 2005 and metal is still breathing heavily in my veins. In place of all the recycled metal-core acts of today I now am finding myself clutching to the albums that started it all for me. With the release of The Essential Iron Maiden I couldn’t help but get a little excited. Sure there have already been a few releases of this type but I hoped for more to feed my hunger for old unearthed recordings.

Disk one plays thru all the later years of Maiden including the stomach turning times of Blaze Bayley. Sure there are some good cuts from their more recent offerings. Obviously such recent tracks including “Rainmaker, The Wicker Man, and Brave New World” are finely tuned songs but for any true Maiden fans most of these cuts seem just so second rate compared to early classic’s. I must admit I gave up on Iron Maiden shortly after the release of Piece of Mind so I figured that maybe I missed a huge amount of what they might still had to offer in the late eighties and early nineties. Well sorry to say much I was a little let down to say the least.

After subjecting myself to the first disk I began to re-question my love for what I believed to be one of hard rocks finest creations. Well with disk two my allegiance was firmly reassured. From the first blistering track “The Evil That Men Do”, Maiden prove why they are one of the best metal bands to ever grace the realm of heavy music. Easily a great selection of what has garnished Iron Maiden all the praises, disk two is a healthy education on real metal.

All the classics are here including such fan favorites as “2 Minutes to Midnight, Aces High, Killers, and Wrath child, to name but just a few. The only complaint I would have to raise would be including live versions with Bruce Dickinson on some of the earlier years replacing the original recordings of front man Paul Di’Anno. Nothing against the powerful vocals of Bruce Dickinson but live versions of such early classics as “Running Free and Iron Maiden” are not The Essential Iron Maiden I remember.

For any die-hard fan I’m sorry to say this release has nothing to offer but for any new fan this is an easy way to educate your selves on real metal.

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