Thursday, February 25, 2010

Iron Maiden - Flight 666: The Original Soundtrack (2009)

Flight 666 was a 2009 documentary film directed by Scott McFayden and Sam Dunn, who you may be familiar with through their previous documentaries Global Metal and Metal: A Headbanger's Journey. If you haven't yet had the chance to see this, you should, if only for the great HD video and surround sound. Granted, it's no Anvil!: The Story of Anvil or Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, but it's not intended to be, instead focusing on the band's performances. And fuck, if all these other bands are getting the documentary treatment, why not Iron Maiden?

Of course, this is another of those 'Fuck Corporate America!' snafus, as the Somewhere Back in Time tour was rolled out alongside the pitiful, worthless compilation of the same name, and the band has also decided to profit off a 2CD live album, instead of just including that solely with the DVD itself and letting everyone's pockets rest. But, of course, this sort of excess is always available to the rich and storied artists of our music industry, and the best way to counteract is to vote with your wallet. And in this case, I think that's the due course, because the only way I feel you should really experience this is by seeing the actual documentary, watching the band perform in all of these great locations (Mumbai, Tokyo, Sydney, Buenos Aires, Toronto, and...New Jersey, among others). Not only the live performances are worthwhile, but there are many snippets of the band in between, at bars, in flight, and with the travails of rock stardom playing out on them (though not to the extent that a Hetfield - Ulrich verbal catfight ensues).

But you're not getting all of that here, are simply getting 17 live tracks, most of which have already appeared on previous live albums, only this time they're being cast at you from all over the wide world. The band have wisely stuck with older material for fact, I was stunned by the presence of only a single track from beyond the band's Silver and Golden Ages of material, and that would be "Fear of the Dark", performed in Buenos Aires". The rest are all veritable classics, from all of the band's first seven albums except Killers, which is unfortunate.

The crowd on this double live album can grow pretty loud, after all these are huge dates with rabid fans from all over Gods know where, but they're not enough to smother the highlights here. For Disc 1, these include the ol' one-two combination of "Aces High" and "2 Minutes to Midnight", which the band follow with "Revelations" and "The Trooper". Yes, the first four songs that were also performed on Live After Death, with a re-ordering of the 3rd and 4th. The irony is not lost upon me. Also great here are the performances of "Can I Play With Madness?" from Mexico City and "Wasted Yeras" from Monterrey. Disc 2 likewise starts with a band, after all, how can you go wrong with "Powerslave" or "Heaven Can Wait"? "Moonchild" and "Run to the Hills" are also strong points here, and almost all of the tracks on this disc are from South American tour dates, aside from the closing "Hallowed Be Thy Name" from Toronto.

Flight 666 certainly sounds excellent, but the advent of the actual documentary film makes this slightly less valuable in my eyes than a standalone live effort. I can't think of any advantage to owning this album when all of the songs are already available on other live offerings, at least no advantage over sitting down with the family or friends on the sofa to experience the DVD in all its 5.1 surround sound glory and HD video. If you feel like digging deeply into your pockets beyond the DVD to throw more money at these guys who obviously need it, well maybe you'll proudly pop the soundtrack into your collection. McFayden and Dunn have done a decent job with the film, perhaps a lot less biased than their prior ensemble documentaries which feature some questionable interviews, but the soundtrack feels like unnecessary excess fat to turn up some additional pocket change.

Verdict: Indifference [6/10]

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