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 ·
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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