IRON MAIDEN
"The Essential Iron Maiden"

(Legacy/Columbia)

To view complete track listing, click here.

RATING: 7/10

Another greatest hits review, another chance for us all to squabble endlessly over inclusions and deletions, the need for yet another collection (I seem to recall reviewing "Edward the Great" less than two years ago), or where in the metal hierarchy IRON MAIDEN sits in relation to PRIEST, SABBATH, and DUMPY'S RUSTY NUTS. And since it's IRON MAIDEN, a band vying with KISS for sheer volume of product by metric tons in record stores, we get to debate that, too. Once more into the breach, fellow metal dorks…

This is certainly a more comprehensive collection than 2002's worthless "Edward the Great" (a slipshod release, with bad graphics on a par with the "Ed Hunter" video game, and no Paul Di'Anno-era tracks). Disc one starts off, surprisingly, with the meaty eight-minute "Paschendale", from 2003's "Dance of Death". By the end of disc one, we've traveled back in time to "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son" and 1988, making a stop at the maligned Blaze Bayley era (four songs), a quick dip into the live albums that signaled Bruce Dickinson's original departure from the band, and a full stop at "Bring Your Daughter To the Slaughter", one of the all-time stupidest songs not just in IRON MAIDEN's, but the world's history (yes, I realize it was a big hit. So was "Hit Me Baby… One More Time").

All you cane-waving duffers who insist the band took a permanent shit around "Somewhere In Time" (that'd be 1986, youngsters, and the cranky old farts are wrong on this one) could probably just throw disc one away. Disc two starts with "The Evil That Men Do" and "Wasted Years", and blasts through a bevy of classics that put just about any other classic band to shame. It's kinda staggering to look at any MAIDEN best-of and realize just how many all-time metal anthems these guys cranked out in such a short span of years. We end up firmly in the Di'Anno era, closing out with a previously unreleased live version of "Iron Maiden", the song.

I wish I could tell you if the packaging or liner notes put this collection over the top, but my pre-release copy consists of two CD-Rs in plastic sleeves. Regardless, the usual best-of recommendations apply here — certainly get this if you don't own any IRON MAIDEN, and then take further steps to correct that shameful condition. If you're a diehard collector-slash-fan, you'll need it too, of course. At two hours and twenty-seven minutes (and that's just "The Clansman"! I kid…) you certainly get your MAIDEN's worth, depending of course on how much of this you already own in its nineteen other reissued formats.

Maybe we could all make a deal with Steve Harris, whereby we go out and buy this en masse, and in return he promises to go a year without a live album, DVD, best-of or reissue campaign. Whattaya say, 'Arry? Either that, or a refund program for misled "Edward the Great" purchasers, would truly up those irons.

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