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3.90 | 13 ratings | 4 reviews
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Boxset / Compilation · 1996

Filed under Heavy Metal


Standard Edition CD:

1. The Number of the Beast (4:53)
2. Can I Play With Madness (3:33)
3. Fear of the Dark (live) (7:23)
4. Run to the Hills (3:54)
5. Bring Your Daughter... to the Slaughter (4:44)
6. The Evil That Men Do (4:34)
7. Aces High (4:30)
8. Be Quick or Be Dead (3:23)
9. 2 Minutes to Midnight (6:04)
10. Man on the Edge (4:13)
11. Virus (6:14)
12. Running Free (live) (3:28)
13. Wasted Years (5:08)
14. The Clairvoyant (4:27)
15. The Trooper (4:14)
16. Hallowed Be Thy Name (7:12)

Total Time: 78:01

Limited Edition CD 1:

1. Virus (6:30)
2. Sign of the Cross (11:17)
3. Man on the Edge (4:18)
4. Afraid to Shoot Strangers (Live) (6:48)
5. Be Quick or Be Dead (3:48)
6. Fear of the Dark (Live) (7:21)
7. Bring Your Daughter... to the Slaughter (4:44)
8. Holy Smoke (3:49)
9. The Clairvoyant (4:27)
10. Can I Play with Madness (3:31)
11. The Evil That Men Do (4:35)
12. Heaven Can Wait (7:24)
13. Wasted Years (5:21)

Limited Edition CD 2:

1. Rime of the Ancient Mariner (Live) (13:10)
2. Running Free (Live) (3:25)
3. 2 Minutes to Midnight (6:04)
4. Aces High (4:31)
5. Where Eagles Dare (6:10)
6. The Trooper (4:11)
7. The Number of the Beast (4:49)
8. Run to the Hills (03:50)
9. Hallowed Be Thy Name (7:10)
10. Wrathchild (2:54)
11. Phantom of the Opera (7:20)
12. Sanctuary (3:13)
13. Strange World (The Soundhouse Tapes Outtake) (5:45)
14. Iron Maiden (The Soundhouse Tapes Version) (3:57)

Total Time: 149:41

Limited Edition LP 1:

1. Virus
2. Sign of the Cross
3. Afraid to Shoot Strangers (Live)
4. Man on the Edge
5. Be Quick or be Dead
6. Fear of the Dark (Live)
7. Holy Smoke
8. Bring Your the Slaughter

Limited Edition LP 2:

1. Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
2. Can I Play With Madness
3. The Evil That Men Do
4. The Clairvoyant
5. Heaven Can Wait
6. Wasted Years
7. 2 Minutes to Midnight
8. Running Free (Live)

Limited Edition LP 3:

1. Rime of the Ancient Mariner (Live)
2. Aces High
3. Where Eagles Dare
4. The Trooper
5. The Number of the Beast
6. Revelations (Live)
7. The Prisoner
8. Run to the Hills
9. Hallowed by the Name

Limited Edition LP 4:

1. Wrathchild
2. Killers
3. Remember Tomorrow
4. Phantom of the Opera
5. Sanctuary
6. Prowler (The Soundhouse Tapes Version)
7. Invasion (The Soundhouse Tapes Version)
8. Strange World (The Soundhouse Tapes Outtake)
9. Iron Maiden (The Soundhouse Tapes Version)


- Paul Di'Anno / vocals (does not appear on standard edition CD)
- Bruce Dickinson / vocals
- Blaze Bayley / vocals
- Steve Harris / bass
- Dave Murray / guitars
- Dennis Stratton / guitars (does not appear on standard edition CD)
- Adrian Smith / guitars
- Janick Gers / guitars
- Doug Sampson / drums (does not appear on standard edition CD)
- Clive Burr / drums
- Nicko McBrain / drums

About this release

Released in 1996 by EMI Records in three different formats: standard CD, limited edition double CD and limited edition quadruple LP.

Thanks to Pekka, Lynx33 for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

Iron Maiden's first major compilation album, released in 1996, may seem dated today, but it contains some of the bands strongest and most memorable material up until that point, and seeing as this was released after Bruce Dickinson initially left the band (he'd rejoin them in 2000), this perfectly summarizes what many consider to be the groups "golden era".

As is always the case with compilations, there's the argument for which songs should have been included and excluded, and in this regard 'The Best of the Beast' pretty much covers all the essentials. There's maybe one or two things I'd have preferred, perhaps at least one Paul Di'Anno-era song to be featured (there is one, but it's a live version sang by Dickinson), but that isn't too much of a detriment to the overall product.

Featuring all the classics such as 'Aces High', 'Run to the Hills', 'Can I Play With Madness', 'Be Quick or Be Dead', 'Fear of the Dark', 'The Number of the Beast' and 'The Trooper', this is a great starting point for newcomers to the band (and I say this from experience, as this was my first Maiden album).

There's some fantastic artwork used for the covers and inlays, with plenty of photos, lyrics and liner notes in the booklet, and seeing as it featured most of Maiden's early hits, this makes for a nice overall package for fans of the band. However dated it may seem today, it's still a worthy addition to the collections of die-hard fans.
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.
Vim Fuego
Did Iron Maiden really need to release a double "Best of..." album? The critics would say no. They labelled Maiden dinosaurs, irrelevant, and saw 'Best Of The Beast' as Iron Maiden exploiting their fans.

Iron Maiden has never been a band to listen to critics. If they were, they would have given up after the self-titled debut. No, this release is a big middle finger salute to the self-appointed metal intelligentsia the world over. Like everything Maiden has ever released, this sold truckloads.

The reason why it sold well may puzzle many. If you examine this release closely, a loyal fan would already have everything here, except perhaps "Sanctuary" (it was not originally included on 'Iron Maiden'). The first disc covers 1986 to 1996, which many fans think of as Maiden being past their peak. The second disc is basically a studio version of 'Live After Death' with a couple of extra tracks thrown in. So, what is the value in 2 1/2 hours of music you already have?

Well, it's Maiden.

Iron Maiden has consistently produced metal of the finest quality alloy since the 1970s. Iron Maiden has produced so many brilliant albums over the years, with fans all having their personal favourites from each album. If you want to listen to those favourites however, it can mean an avalanche of vinyl strewn across the room. Let's say you want to listen to "Iron Maiden", "Wrathchild", "The Number Of The Beast", "Aces High", "Wasted Years", "The Clairvoyant", "Bring Your Daughter...To The Slaughter" and "Be Quick Or Be Dead". That can mean up to eight albums to sort through. Why not stick 'em all on two discs and package them with a little hardback book mapping out Iron Maiden's history up to that time?

Those who aren't Maiden fans will not understand why followers of the band would actually buy this. Fans of the band though, will understand. After all, you can't argue with seven incarnations of Eddie on a single cover.
The Ultimate Iron Maiden Compilation, sadly out of print.

In recent years Iron Maiden have gotten a reputation for cashing in on endless compilations all featuring more or less the same songs, but back in the day when they released their very first proper compilation, they already had ten studio albums under their belt. Very few bands have had the guts to wait that long. Having been released in 1996 this set of songs obviously misses the return of Bruce & Adrian, but the era it does cover, it covers brilliantly.

The Standard Edition CD is a rather plain greatest hits collection with one obligatory new song, Virus, which is one of the best Blaze era tracks with its killer melodies and slow build-up. But back when I got interested in Maiden, I was still able to find the Double CD edition of this, which had some real treats on top of the hits. For a beginner it was a perfect package to start with. All the essential Maiden classics spiced up with a few live selections and even two tracks from their very first studio session for The Soundhouse Tapes EP. Afraid to Shoot Strangers is a Bruce era song sung here by Blaze, and in its subdued emotionality it is one of the few Bruce era songs Blaze managed to really make his own. Another live gem of this edition is Rime of the Ancient Mariner from Live After Death. I've always found this version superior to the already fantastic original. Bruce can't hit that siren note of his, but listen how the soloing section after that takes off - one of my favourite Maiden moments ever.

The super rare 4 LP version adds even more brilliant album tracks to the mix, for example Seventh Son of a Seventh Son and Revelations, and to top things off, the entire Soundhouse Tapes EP along with the outtake Strange World. This is stuff that every serious Maiden fan should hear.

Hopefully from now on they hold back any further compilations until the end of the band, when they should bring Best of the Beast out again with an added third CD covering the rest of their career.

Stardard Edition CD *** Limited Edition 2 CD **** Limited Edition 4 LP *****

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