Album Reviews

Iron Maiden – Somewhere Back In Time: The Best Of (1980-89)

(EMI) UK release date: 12 May 2008

Iron Maiden - Somewhere Back In Time: The Best Of (1980-89) Any metalhead worth their salt already knows that Iron Maiden are currently touring the world with their ground breaking Powerslave set. The first time they did this back in ’84/’85 they were on the road for 13 months and 193 shows setting records and becoming one of the few ‘must see’ metal bands around. This time you can even book tickets for the show and travel on a flight piloted by singer Bruce Dickinson.

To celebrate the fact that Maiden are revisiting this classic period in their history, they are releasing this compilation. To many this may seem like the band are fleecing the fans yet again, especially when you look down the track listing and see that there are few, if any surprises. Despite the band insisting that this collection is to merely introduce new fans to their material there is a slight whiff of cashing in afoot, especially as many Maiden fans freely admit to being obsessive completists.

What is interesting however is that Maiden are offering the chance to download the album for free as a high quality WMA file. These tracks can then be played three times before they expire and the listener is provided with an option to purchase the album in full. For a band that is constantly maligned with accusations of living in the past, this approach is certainly attempting to address the problems that downloading faces the record industry with. Still, this will not entirely appease the long term fans who will have to shell out just so they can have a “real” copy complete with artwork.

The album itself is full of storming Maiden tunes mainly lifted from their classic period when the band line up consisted of Bruce Dickinson, Adrian Smith, Dave Murray, Steve Harris, and Nicko McBrain. So you get a few tracks from the metal benchmark Number of The Beast, as well as a few from Piece Of Mind, Powerslave and Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.

Interestingly only a solitary track, Wasted Years, from Somewhere in Time makes it to this best of. The likes of Stranger in A Strange Land, Sea Of Madness (a live favourite) or Alexander The Great might have had more of a case for being included as the best work from that particular album.

Furthermore any material originally sung by Paul Di’anno on the band’s first two albums is represented by the Dickinson versions from Live After Death; the album/video made around the first World Slavery Tour. This is perhaps understandable, as Dickinson is the one screaming them on the current tour, but frankly the original versions of Wrathchild and Phantom Of The Opera are streets ahead of the versions included here.

The need for yet another “Best Of” compilation is also something of an issue, as this will be the fourth such set, following on from The Best of The Beast, Ed Hunter, and Edward The Great. With the tour generating so much publicity it is likely that any new fan will find their needs comfortably sated with any number of the compilations already out there.

What can’t be denied however is the quality of the material here. It is little wonder that Iron Maiden are the band that first captivated many a music fan of a certain age such is the conviction and energy nestled in the fibre of these songs.

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Iron Maiden – Somewhere Back In Time: The Best Of (1980-89)