IRON MAIDEN — Best Of The Beast (review)

IRON MAIDEN — Best Of The Beast album cover Boxset / Compilation · 1996 · Heavy Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
Modrigue
Get the 2CD edition if you can

First best of compilation of the NWOBHM kings, "Best of the Beast" was declined in three versions. The most common one is the 1CD edition, good but not without flaws. The 2CD limited edition is well worth the buy if you can grab it. Finally, the 4-Disc vinyl edition was intended for collectors only and is hardly impossible to find nowadays.

Let's talk about the 1CD edition first. The only novelty here is "Virus", released as a single in 1996. A pretty cool song, whose darker atmosphere inherits from "The X Factor", MAIDEN's previous album. Nice! The track-list is overall good, but there are 2 small problems though. The first one is the inclusion of irritating hit singles, such as "Run To The Hills", "Can I Play With Madness", "Bring Your Daughter...", which are the black sheeps of their respective albums. It's a pity, as there are less epic compositions on the disc, nor tracks representing the explosive "Killers".

That's why the limited 2CD edition is much more interesting. Composed of 27 tracks, it contains 3 more emblematic epics from various eras: "Phantom Of The Opera", "Rime Of The Ancient Mariner" and "Sign of the Cross". Furthermore, it offers a more faithful overview of the band, as each album is represented by 1 or 2 titles, as well as 2 more previously unreleased tracks. The first one is a live version of "Afraid to Shoot Strangers" with Blaze Bailey. His low tone fits the song's haunting ambiance well. The second one is the 1979 demo of "Strange World" from "The Soundhouse Tapes".

Finally, the 4-disc vinyl edition consists in 34 tracks, each album being represented by 2 or 3 titles. It features an unreleased live version of "Revelations" with Bruce Dickinson. However, the main interest of this edition for collectors is the inclusion of the complete 1979 demos recording "The Soundhouse Tapes".

Better than "Edward the Great", "Best of the Beast" mixes studio and live songs with a few rarities. The booklet is richly illustrated with many photos and informations. The most interesting IRON MAIDEN best of compilation, as well as a good way to discover the group for newcomers.
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