Thursday, February 25, 2010

Iron Maiden - Maiden England (1994)

By the virtue of Iron Maiden graciously offering us 3 live recordings at stock prices in the year before, the 1994 audio CD release of the 1989 Maiden England VHS seems very heavy handed. But oddly enough, this album is actually superior to A Real Live Dead One or Live at Donington, and I wish it had simply come out instead of those. The contents of the album (and video tape) were recorded in late November, 1988, at the N.E.C. in Birmingham, and Steve Harris himself directed the production of both the audio and video components. This is out of print now, aside from a bootleg DVD option, but seriously, who the fuck would want a video tape unless he/she was really cool. At any rate, the audio disc does still possess some value, as one of the band's better live albums outside Live After Death or Maiden Japan.

I love the sound here; the bands excellent reverb-heavy 80s production evoking much nostalgia not unlike Live After Death. In order to fit the concert on a single disc, they have unfortunately omitted "Hallowed Be Thy Name" and "Can I Play With Madness?", but we are still left with 13 cuts of Eddie goodness, including an excellent rendition of "Moonchild", from the band's most recent album at this time, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. This is a seriously great opening to the album, and since you won't hear this on most other Maiden 'official' live albums, you're already into the plus. Even without "Can I Play With Madness?" present, this album gets quite a lot of coverage, with "The Clairvoyant", "The Evil That Men Do", "Infinite Dreams" and the title track "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son" which is another one you won't hear on most of the band's live releases. I should note that each of these songs sounds great and mixes in well with the older material.

Speaking of which, "Heaven Can Wait" and "Wasted Years" are both present from Somewhere in Time, and they also sound excellent, as the melodies glow across the crowdscape. Powerslave is sadly ignored, but there are a few uncommon offerings from Piece of Mind: "Still Life" and "Die With Your Boots On", in place of "The Trooper". Quite nice for a change! "The Prisoner" is also hear sounding sweet, alongside "The Number of the Beast" from the album of the album of the same name. "Killers" and "Iron Maiden" ensure that the first two albums are alive and kicking, and the entire set flows smoothly from beginning to end. In fact, I'd place some of these versions up there with those of Live After Death.

If you can find this re-issued package lying around in some used record store or bargain bin at a big retail lot, and it's cheap, then I'd certainly recommend its acquisition. It's a pity to have two tracks missing, but you can always pop the video in your...I'm assuming it's broken by now, so maybe that's not such a great idea. Anyhoo, Maiden England stands alongside Maiden Japan and Live After Death as the 'trinity' of Maiden live albums that are probably worth owning.

Verdict: Win [8/10]

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