Eddie the Excellent
Edward The Great: Greatest Hits - Iron Maiden
Member Name: Jarisleif
Edward The Great: Greatest Hits - Iron Maiden
Advantages: Some brilliant Maiden songs
Disadvantages: Not enough early stuff
"Edward the Great" is a greatest hits compilation by British heavy metal band, Iron Maiden. It was released in 2002 on EMI Records with the songs being produced by Martin Birch, Steve Harris, Nigel Green & Kevin Shirley. The members that appeared on the album are Bruce Dickinson, Blaze Bayley, Dave Murray, Adrian Smith, Janick Gers, Steve Harris, Clive Burr and Nicko McBrain.
Probably the most famous British heavy metal band of them all, Iron Maiden began in 1975 and what you get on this compilation is 16 songs from 10 albums and a cover which features band mascot, Eddie the Head, sat on a throne with a robe, crown and staff, and surrounded by what appear to be wild dogs. On the floor is a leopard which has been partially stuffed. As a fan of the band since the early 1980s, I had to buy this compilation to add to my collection. Is it any good? Let's find out!
Run to the Hills
This track has one of the most memorable Iron Maiden drum beats to it, and also one of the most recognised main riffs. Steve Harris commented on the song "This song is about the American Indians. It's written from both sides of the picture. The first part is from the side of the Indians and the second part is from the side of the soldiers. I wanted to try and get the feeling of galloping horses. When you play this one, be careful not to let it run away with you." As Steve Harris says, you really do get the feeling of horses at full pelt across the fields in battle with the galloping strums on the guitar strings. This is very easily my all-time favourite Iron Maiden song, partly for the nostalgia of being a kid and buying the single and partly because it's a very good number.
The Number of the Beast
The song begins with actor Barry Clayton reciting a verse from Revelations:
"Woe to you, oh earth and sea,
for the devil sends the beast with wrath
because he knows the time is short
Let him who hath understanding reckon the number of the beast
for it is a human number. Its number is six hundred and sixty six."
Steve Harris said "In America, a right-wing political pressure group accused the band of being Devil worshippers and of trying to pervert their kids. It was mad. They completely got the wrong end of the stick and they obviously hadn't read the lyrics. They just wanted to believe all that rubbish about us being Satanists." Musically, it's one of Iron Maiden's most famous songs and no concert the band puts on is without the song in the set list somewhere. Here's the strange thing, though. Don't let the song title fool you for one second because it's almost a happy-go-lucky number but with metal roots. The chorus is very pop-like and you can't help but sing along to it. Even close to the end of the song where Bruce sings, "I'm coming back. I will return. And I'll possess your body and I'll make you burn", you still get the feeling that it's a joyous song with no evil intent. Ask many fans what their favourite Iron Maiden song is, and a lot will tell you it's this one. Others will say the next one on the album, too.
Flight of Icarus
A song I always look forward to hearing when Maiden plays live. It's a song based on two characters in Greek mythology, Daedalus and his son, Icarus, who made wings out of feathers and wax. Icarus took the wings and flew too close to the sun, the wings melted and he fell to his death. Bruce Dickinson co-wrote the song with Adrian Smith and he said that while it clearly deals with Icarus' wings, there is also an alternate meaning where teenagers rebel against their parents. Steve Harris commented about the song "It's a really good song but we much prefer it live as we tend to play it faster on stage. Looking back on it now we feel we could have played it at a faster speed on the album. This gives little extra touch but a bit more fire." There's a great solo from Dave Murray in the bridge which is backed up by some wonderful guitar riffs, but as Steve Harris pointed out, it does seem a little too slow on record. I do love the guitar parts leading to the outro of the song, too.
This is my favourite Iron Maiden songs of their entire discography. I like everything about this song from the opening to the galloping guitars with a good dosage of brilliant vocals from Dickinson and wonderful solo playing by Smith & Murray. I especially like the way the two guitarists play the same main riff but with slightly different pitches. It's a song about the Crimean War between 1853-56 and Lord Tennyson's poem "The Charge of the Light Brigade", published in 1854. Steve Harris said "The opening is meant to try and recreate the galloping horses in the charge of the light brigade. It's an atmospheric song." When Maiden plays this song live, Dickinson will don a British officer's uniform from that time period and wave the British flag on stage. That is something I really look forward to when I see the band in other countries.
2 Minutes to Midnight
We dabble into the realm of the Cold War here, and the title is a reference to the Doomsday Clock, which once reached 11:58pm, the closest to global nuclear war it's ever reached. The main riff on this song is one of the best off the album, and the lyrics are obviously quite dark and heavy. Dickinson's vocal range is tested to the limit in the chorus, but it's once again the sound of that bass which steals the show with its trademark chugging that you just can't get enough of.
This was the lead single from "Somewhere in Time", peaking at No.18 in the UK singles charts. The song has made appearances on Iron Maiden set lists on a rotation basis over the years and was part of the North American tour of 2012. It's a song that has meaning for most of the band, in that while on tour it's easy to forget who you really are and what your home life means to you. You go out on stage every night and bring joy to the thousands that come and see you play, and while that's meaningful in its own right, family has to come first. Musically, it's staple Iron Maiden. It sounds great and it's played to a tight beat - the kind of sound you get with a band that has so much togetherness. Some of the best soloing I've ever heard comes in on this record, and the song is definitely part of compilation mixes I create, even now.
Can I Play With Madness
The track is perhaps one of the most well-known Maiden songs, and deals with the father of the seventh son going to see a prophet to find out what his visions mean and what, if anything, he can do about them. The prophet is telling him he really doesn't want to know what he knows but the man needs to know. It's a cheerful song with some great guitar work by Murray and Smith who seem to be on another planet when it comes to recording music, in the sense that they're together in perfect unison. You don't really hear Steve Harris' bass too much on this song, but that's not the be all, end all, because it's a song that doesn't require much bass or drums, and when you've got those twin guitar attacks backed with Dickinson's amazing voice, the rhythm section is barely noticeable.
The Evil That Men Do
This is one of my favourite songs, and it's pretty difficult to choose favourite amongst these fine specimens. There's a soft guitar intro before Nicko chimes the rest of the band into the song and classic Iron Maiden, packed full of riffs, wonderful bass tones, great drumming and, of course, the excellent vocals of Bruce Dickinson, who, it has to be said, has never sounded any better than on the album it came from, "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son". The song is about how the seventh son has now been conceived and the devil's daughter is very prominent in his life with her wishes and commands. The devil wants nothing more than for her to seduce him so that he will give his life to Satan but maybe his daughter is having second thoughts. Maybe she is not beyond saviour.
This begins with Steve Harris' wonderful bass sound playing before the guitars and drums join in. This is the turning part of the story as far as the seventh son is concerned as he loses the battle with himself. He's getting stronger by the day but loses complete control of himself which leads to his death and being reborn again. With the story taking the path that it does, you'd imagine the song would be sombre and heart-felt, but instead it's pretty up-beat. With a brilliantly catchy chorus of lyrics which end with the true statement of "As soon as you're born, you're dying". This is one of my favourite Maiden songs and I love the artwork on the single.
We begin at a slow pace with Bruce's vocals almost whispering over the downturned instruments but it's the pre-chorus where things get interesting. Some would call this song a ballad, but not me. I've never been a fan of keyboards with a straight out heavy metal band like Iron Maiden but they definitely add to the song here and in the bridge before the solos, Nicko's drumming shines through, and Steve Harris' bass is as good as ever. It's a song about the father of the seventh son (who has not yet been conceived) who has visions of the future and doesn't like what he sees but is too scared to do anything about it. The vocals of Dickinson are absolutely outstanding on this song, and the duelling riff near the end is great. That riff, incidentally, can practically be heard on Papa Roach's "Last Resort", although slightly slower. I knew there was a reason why I don't like that band!
What we get here is a fun song which is about American televangelists who hide behind religion in order to get rich. It's one of the softer tracks Maiden has done but it still punches above its weight, especially in the guitar solo department. The writing partnership of Dickinson/Harris has always been a good one, and this is another song which doesn't let that down. If I had any criticism about the song, it's that Dickinson's vocals seem a little strained at times. That could be down to Bruce Dickinson's need for change, and two years later he had quit the band.
Bring Your Daughter... to the Slaughter
This is the best song off of "No Prayer For the Dying". Not just because it reached number one in the UK singles charts, but because it rocks more than any other, which isn't that difficult on an album that doesn't quite pull the strings. There is a very catchy chorus with some neat guitar work along with it that made it a live favourite for some years to come, and I always look forward to hearing it whenever I see the band play.
Man on the Edge
A song which is based on the brilliant Michael Douglas film, "Falling Down" and some of Blaze Bayley's best work - it doesn't get much better than this as far as Maiden is concerned at around this time in their careers. I like a lot about the song, especially the vocal harmony and the bass line, but what strikes me the most is the story of the film which becomes a big part of the song. I won't give the game away if you haven't seen it, but everyone, at some point or another, reaches that line where once they teeter over it, all hell breaks loose.
This is possibly Blaze Bayley's best performance on an Iron Maiden record. It's got all the elements of a classic Iron Maiden song - fast-paced, not too long, and, more importantly, it rocks. The unfortunate thing is, I keep wanting to hear Bruce Dickinson's vocals on this song, even though Blaze delivers it quite well. There are some nice riffs from Murray & Gers and you just can't get enough of Steve Harris' clunky bass. Of the Song, Steve Harris said "This was an idea that I'd had for quite some time but hadn't worked up into a full song until the writing started for the album. I Worked up all the music and vocal melody lines but I didn't have a suitable lyric, so I asked Blaze to write something for it and very fine it is too!"
The Wicker Man
Right from the start of "The Wicker Man" it's clear that Iron Maiden have a winning formula once more with Dickinson back in the band and the new three guitar line-up for the "Brave New World" album. I really like the opening riff and Bruce's vocals sound as good as they've ever done, stamping out the doubts that he was done as a singer. For those that don't know, his vocal performance on the "Fear of the Dark" album was a little raspy on some songs and his successor, Blaze Bayley, just couldn't cut the mustard with Iron Maiden. I thought he was a great singer for Wolfsbane, but Maiden is a different animal altogether. The bellowing of "Your time will come" in the chorus proves the doubters wrong, but it's not all about Bruce. Steve Harris' bass clunks away as dominant as ever and Nicko on the drums is a wondrous sound. Bruce Dickinson said "This song is called "The Wicker Man" because there's one line in the song which mentions The Wicker Man as in the 1970s film of the same name. And the song is, I think, the best single Maiden have had out in ages. It's a really rocking song. I was just thinking about when I stand up in front of thousands of people singing, just thinking about the buzz I get out of it; I'm thinking about the buzz I used to get when I was a kid and I used to go to rock festivals you really felt you belonged to something bigger than yourself on that one day. You also felt in some ways that you could change something; you could change the world a little bit that day because you're all in that field. And that's what's the song's about, hence the chorus, "Your time will come". You suddenly feel you are a part of everything.
Fear of the Dark
This is probably in the top ten of my all-time favourite Iron Maiden songs - it really is that good. There are not many better feelings at a concert than watching the band play this song when it's an open-air gig and the sky is black. I've witnessed this a few times and it really doesn't get much better than that. This is the song that Dickinson gives it his all in his vocal capacity and it's a real shame that he didn't let go with all guns blazing for most of the others. Bruce Dickinson: "Steve, who wrote it, is really afraid of the dark. It's the story of a man who walks in a park at night and, as it's getting darker, he sees all sorts of worrying things. He becomes totally paranoid because his imagination is working overtime. It's a great track."
As this is Maiden's third 'best of' album, you would think there was something different on it, but there isn't, really. Steve Harris said that "Edward the Great" is aimed at the kind of person who didn't really know what the band was about, and if that really was the case then I guess it sort of works, but there are no songs from the Paul Di'Anno era, and he sang on the first two albums which are just as important as any other which is why I've marked it down as low as I have. Of course there are good songs on here, but there are many that could have been as well.
1. Run to the Hills
2. The Number of the Beast
3. Flight of Icarus
4. The Trooper
5. 2 Minutes to Midnight
6. Wasted Years
7. Can I Play With Madness
8. The Evil That Men Do
9. The Clairvoyant
10. Infinite Dreams
11. Holy Smoke
12. Bring Your Daughter... to the Slaughter
13. Man on the Edge
15. The Wicker Man
16. Fear of the Dark (Live)
My rating: 6/10
Summary: It's good, but you may want something different.