Review: Eddie’s Archive (2002)

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Iron Maiden’s first proper box set is a mixed bag, or box, as it should be. It runs the gamut from throwaway B-sides to essential live recordings, and a long lost concert from 1982 is the most precious jewel in the package. When Maiden opened their vault there was much to enjoy.

Eddie’s Archive
Released 4 November 2002

Iron Maiden had dabbled in box sets before. The First Ten Years was released in 1990, in the run-up to Maiden’s latest record No Prayer For The Dying, collecting the maxi editions of the band’s singles on either vinyl or CD. There had also been the remastered Eddie’s Head collection of enhanced CD albums in 1998. But Eddie’s Archive would be the first box that unearthed previously unreleased material.

Well, there’s a scroll with a family tree printed on it, and a shot glass, and the box is rather nice. But let’s face it, the music contents will always be the deciding factor when it comes to Iron Maiden.

The package consists of three double-CD sets, mostly culled from the 1980s. When enjoyed in the order here described it makes for a really great three-course Maiden meal that will last all night. Warm up nice and easy with the BBC recordings, get pleasantly pummeled by the intensity of Hammersmith 1982, and then drift through the B-sides as a diverse nightcap. Check it out:

BBC Archives
Produced by Tony Wilson
Recorded 1979 – 1988

bbcarchives2

CD cover artwork by Derek Riggs.

The British broadcaster is in possession of a treasure trove of Maiden recordings, and luckily the fans get to enjoy that over the course of two discs in Eddie’s Archive. First up is the live (or nearly so) performance in the BBC‘s radio studio on 14 November 1979.

The collection opens with a ludicrously fresh and heavy Iron Maiden, in this reviewer’s opinion the best recorded version of this song that there ever was. The sound is full and clear, arguably better than what Maiden would achieve soon after when recording the debut Maiden album in early 1980.

This is also the only recorded evidence of Maiden’s late 1979 line-up: bassist Steve Harris, guitarist Dave Murray and singer Paul Di’Anno, joined here by drummer Doug Sampson and guitarist Tony Parsons. The latter delivers a very cool and unique guitar solo in this rendition of Sanctuary, and only a few weeks of time and the determined minds of Harris and manager Rod Smallwood separates Sampson and Parsons from the first Maiden album.

lineup1979.5

A Ross Halfin shot of the late 1979 Iron Maiden line-up in a great mood. Left to right: early Maiden drummer Doug Sampson, singer Paul Di’Anno, short-lived Maiden guitarist Tony Parsons, guitarist Dave Murray and bassist Steve Harris.

We’re quickly moving on to Maiden’s Reading Festival appearances on 23 August 1980 and 28 August 1982, as Maiden morphs into line-ups with guitarist Dennis Stratton and drummer Clive Burr, and then singer Bruce Dickinson and guitarist Adrian Smith.

Highlights of Reading 1980: Paul Di’Anno on absolutely scorching form, particularly when delivering a career-high performance of Remember Tomorrow. And there is an early version of Killers in the set, with Dennis Stratton noodling away in the right channel, not quite finding the right riffs at the right time but filling in with plenty of nice melodic touches to make up for it.

lineup1980.7

The good mood continues in 1980, left to right: Murray, new guitarist Dennis Stratton, Di’Anno, Harris and new drummer Clive Burr.

Highlights of Reading 1982: The sheer energy of a Dickinson-led Maiden on their first world tour, basking in the glory of their breakthrough The Number Of The Beast album. But it’s not as great as the main course recording of the box, coming up soon.

Producer for all of these BBC recordings was Tony Wilson, and he achieves a fatter and heavier live sound than Maiden would often do with official releases, even the classic Live After Death (excellent as it is, the low end is not its greatest strength) and most definitely the 1993 live records produced by Steve Harris himself. The BBC tapes seem to prove that there is a way to hear a rough-and-ready Iron Maiden that still sounds powerful and exciting.

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Maiden still smiling in 1982, left to right: Burr, new guitarist Adrian Smith, new singer Bruce Dickinson, Harris and Murray.

Capping the first double-disc set of the box is a partial presentation of Maiden’s headlining appearance at the Donington Monsters Of Rock festival on 20 August 1988. Having been offered lower billing at the event for years, Maiden finally went for it with a full-on top-of-the-bill performance, heralded then and looked back on now as their crowning glory.

There must certainly exist a complete recording of this show, and it really should see the light of day. A further three tracks (not included here) were available on the live The Clairvoyant single in 1988. Hopefully Maiden will get around to doing special editions of their albums at some point, like Steve Harris’ favorite band Jethro Tull have been up to for years now, and there will be occasion to share complete concerts with us nerdy and paying fans.

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Maiden in 1988, the year of their first Donington appearance: Smith, Murray, Harris, Dickinson and “new” drummer Nicko McBrain.

A highlight of this recording is a completely diabolical Moonchild that opens the show. And this rendition of Infinite Dreams edges the Maiden England version with the sheer power of its attack. It is admittedly evident that the insane touring schedules of the 1980s has really hurt Dickinson’s voice by this point, but we are still experiencing vintage Maiden magic here.

Speaking of which, let’s move on to the second set of CDs in the box, the main course on the meny.

Beast Over Hammersmith
Produced by Doug Hall and Steve Harris
Recorded 20 March 1982

beastoverhammersmith

CD cover artwork by Derek Riggs.

When Iron Maiden started their world tour in support of The Number Of The Beast in early 1982, they filmed and recorded their show at London’s Hammersmith Odeon with the intention of releasing a concert video. Being unhappy with the filmed result, they decided against it. Some tracks were later included in the retrospective video 12 Wasted Years in 1987, and more would see the light of day with the DVD release The Early Days in 2004. But it was here in Eddie’s Archive that the entire audio recording would surface.

And what a recording it is.

This is Iron Maiden on the cusp of international success. The Number Of The Beast is two days away from release, so they don’t yet know that they have recorded a worldwide smash hit. But this live recording testifies to the fact that Maiden with Dickinson at the helm are 100% sure of their own power. Bursting onto the stage with a glorious Murders In The Rue Morgue from the Killers album, all cylinders are firing. I might be one of the few who dislikes Drifter, particularly when incorporating Bruce’s version of Paul’s “yoyoyo” singalong, but the rest of this recording is pretty much undeniable.

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Iron Maiden live on stage in 1982, taking their Beast On The Road.

Highlights range from a definitive version of Children Of The Damned to unbelievable Dickinson performances of The Number Of The Beast, The Prisoner and Hallowed Be Thy Name. Add to that massively powerful renditions of Phantom Of The Opera and Killers, among others, and we have a bonafide classic recording on our hands.

Props must also be given to Steve Harris and longtime sound engineer Doug Hall for capturing and mixing what is certainly one of the best-sounding Maiden live recordings of all time.

Beast Over Hammersmith, the live album that never was, and then finally was after all.

Best Of The B-Sides
Produced by Gary Edwards, Martin Birch, Steve Harris, Nigel Green, Kevin Shirley, Doug Hall
Recorded 1979 – 1999

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CD cover artwork by Mark Wilkinson.

Iron Maiden have always taken great pride in providing bonus material for fans who buy their singles. Back in the day, most bands would simply issue an album track with another album track, but Maiden went the extra mile in releasing live versions and non-album cover songs that made their singles fun and worthwhile to collect.

Since there is such a mass of tracks piled up over the years, a selection must somehow be made to fit onto two CDs. Some good tracks must be left out, 1982’s Total Eclipse (an original Maiden track) and 1988’s Massacre (a Thin Lizzy cover) are missing in action here, but the overall selection is fair enough.

Highlights of the B-sides: Most of the first disc, to be honest, and particularly the 1986 B-sides Reach Out (sung by Adrian Smith) and Juanita from the Somewhere In Time sessions, and the 1988 re-recording of Prowler from the Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son sessions.

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Iron Maiden in 1995, left to right: “new” guitarist Janick Gers, Murray, new singer Blaze Bayley, Harris and McBrain.

The lowest point is the increasingly uninteresting B-sides from the 1990s, meaning much of the second disc. An exception to this is the welcome inclusion of the Blaze Bayley era track Justice Of The Peace, which failed to be included on The X Factor for reasons only Steve Harris could possibly explain. Judgement Day is not as good, but both of these tracks contain some of Bayley’s best performances with Maiden, wasted as B-sides but thankfully included here to complete the picture.

Also of interest are the two live recordings of obscure Bayley material, Blood On The World’s Hands and The Aftermath. A box set like this should dig deep, and these tracks certainly count as deep cuts. Rounding the entire thing off are 1999 live versions of Futureal and Wasted Years, two widely different Maiden songs from widely different eras, both performed with elan by the millennium line-up of Maiden that saw Dickinson and Smith return to the band.

lineup1999.5

The ultimate Maiden at the dawn of a new millennium, with Smith and Dickinson back in a six-man line-up.

Stay tuned later this year for our look behind the scenes of the 1999 Maiden reunion!

A footnote to this collection: On the same day, 4 November 2002, Maiden also released a compilation CD titled Edward The Great. This was clearly aimed at potential new fans, and it holds no interest for the longtime fan. The band’s first compilation, Best Of The Beast from 1996, was a much more interesting package. The 1999 video game-cum-greatest hits, Ed Hunter, was also better, even if the US version desecrated the original 1981 Wrathchild by having Bruce replace Paul’s vocals…

The Eddie’s Archive box, however, is a great piece of Iron Maiden archeology. In the early years of the 2000s, boxes like this one was the thing to do for the legacy type of hard rock and metal bands, and Maiden did it well. But twenty years later there is a need for something new and much more comprehensive: Iron Maiden should now step up and create immersive special editions of every studio album, packing boxes of CDs and DVDs with new remixes, associated recordings, live audio and video concerts. We will happily buy each and every one of them, won’t we?

Before signing off here, fans take note: There are two different versions of this box set out there! The original limited edition has a blue inlay and a numbered family tree. The later reissue has a red inlay and an unnumbered family tree. Both versions are pretty easy to come by second-hand, but the former (blue) should obviously be considered more valuable to the collector.

Christer’s Verdict: 5/6

6/6 Masterpiece
5/6 Great
4/6 Good
3/6 OK
2/6 Disappointing
1/6 Crap

23 thoughts on “Review: Eddie’s Archive (2002)

  1. Hi Christer,

    I’m a big fan of Maiden’s 80s and early 90s b-sides. Agree they never redefined any genres but in an era before Spotify etc, their b-sides were a gateway drug into Golden Earring, Thin Lizzy, Free and Montrose to mention a few awesome bands I’d never have got to otherwise. I spent a lot of time and my paper round money in CD fairs round Leeds trying to seek out the full set of the First Ten Years CDs. Some of the early live stuff was like dynamite as well – I guess you won’t be a fan from the review but the live version of Drifter with Paul (Sanctuary b-side I think?) is incredible IMO. Even the deliberate piss takes were always worth a spin – I still get a chuckle out of Rod/Bruce’s line “I like to think of myself as a creative Geoffrey Boycott” but that might just be my Yorkshire roots…

    Agree on Justice of the Peace, although I thought the lyrics were a bit naff even at the time it came out the start of Steve’s middle aged attempts at social commentary that reached a dismal conclusion on The Age of Innocence.

    It makes me nostalgic for physical media – in the early 90s there were some amazing bands churning out more high quality music than they could fit on albums. Not sure if you are into the Wildhearts (if not you should be!) but they were the masters of it – their live shows still feature several songs that were only ever released as b-sides. Can’t imagine Maiden closing their sets with Burning Ambition these days but it’d be nice if they did.

    Anyway, nostalgic rant for my teenage years is over now – keep up the good work, cracking insight as always

    Dave

    • Dave, when Maiden and all sorts of metal bands went downhill a bit in the 1990s (at least they did in my opinion), The Wildhearts was one of the bands I turned to. I know most fans would prefer their earliest stuff, but to me P.H.U.Q. was and is an incredible album. Wildhearts, Paradise Lost, Therapy? and The Almighty (particularly Crank) kept me going at that time.

      I completely agree about the Justice lyrics, and like you I’ve always found Age Of Innocence to be its closest Maiden relative. Even without a British background, I find those lyrics universally embarrassing. Maybe for this reason alone, Justice was better left off The X Factor?

      • Good to see the Wildhearts getting a mention. They’re second only to IM in my favourite bands list. And if you’re into B sides you might recognise my user name Zomboid as a B Side from the Endless Nameless era (their version of the Blaze era? Certainly divisive). I remember Ginger saying that he just wrote songs when they needed some B sides and recorded them. And some turned out to be stone cold classics like 29x the Pain and Two Way Idiot Mirror.

        What have they got in common? Riffs and Melody lad, Riffs and Melody. It’s what makes the world rotate. (Read it in Bruce’s pretend Yorkshire accent…)

        I really want the music in Eddie’s Archive. I’ve got almost all the pre 1995 B sides because I bought the 1995 box set of the first 9 albums + Live after Death, but the content of the other two discs are sadly missing from my collection. I don’t care about the box and so on (I’d probably rather not have it to be honest, I’ve got enough things that only occupy space in my house), the music is what’s important.

      • Ah I could talk about the Wildhearts and Maiden all day every day! @Christer – Wildhearts/PL/Therapy?/Almighty is pretty much the entirety of my early 90s listening. Add a bit of Reef and Terrorvision and you’d have it made 🙂

        Age of Innocence is basically a Daily Mail article read aloud over a middling chord progression – there is a punchy riff in the middle 8 though, they should have built the song around that!

        @Zomboid – agree on the stone cold classics! The Suckerpunch single which both of those b-sides were on is incredible. Some bands would never have hit singles as good as those tunes, let alone putting them on a b-side. Fire Up, SIN in SIN, Hate the World Day, Girlfriend Clothes, Shut your f’n mouth, all incredible…I didn’t mind Endless Nameless actually – clearly the production is a little challenging but the melodies and riffs are all there and the songs as good as ever. I’ve seen them play several of the songs from there on later tours and they sit perfectly with the rest of the set. New album and tour in September! I loved Renaissance Men and thrilled that Danny is back, even if he’s got fewer legs than he had back in the day.

        Sorry, a bit off topic for a Maiden blog!

      • @Dave strangely enough I’d probably say that Suckerpunch is the weakest song on that single. And it’s the “A Side”.
        The Endless Nameless production isn’t exactly easy listening, but I personally love that about it. It’s not badly produced, it’s supposed to be distorted, noisy, brutal and hard work. The square wave distortion when Pissjoy kicks in makes me happy every time I hear it.

        But I can’t think of any way to tie that back to Iron Maiden…

      • I went for a long run this lunchtime (am training for a marathon), the soundtrack consisted solely of Wildhearts b-sides inspired by this convo 🙂 Will get Maiden b-sides on Saturday’s run

      • Ps @Zomboid – I’d kinda agree re: Suckerpunch being the weakest tune on its own single (toss up with Beautiful Thing You), but these are relative terms – Suckerpunch is one of their best ever songs! I know the boys did a lot of drugs back in the day so their judgement may have been clouded but can you imagine putting such quality out as b-sides that only hardcore fans would ever hear?? I saw WH with Terrorvision and Reef on their recent nostalgia tour and they absolutely wiped the floor with both other bands. IM will always be my favourite band but I am constantly amazed at the consistent quality of WH output

      • @Dave the drugs and hedonism etc is a critical part of their history, but just if Ginger had displayed the single minded focus in the mid 1990s that Steve Harris did 15 years earlier to go along with his talent…

    • @Zomboid, perhaps we should set up a Wildhearts blog! Got to be honest, I think in Ginger’s case the drugs and hedonism went hand in hand with the unbridled creativity so you can’t overlay Steve’s work ethic on top of it – I think Ginger wrote such essential tunes because of his lifestyle, not despite it. Compare and contrast with Mr Harris – I think it’s a given that we’re both massive Maiden fans but we can probably both appreciate that their success is a combination of Steve’s single minded focus and a formula of harmony guitar/punishing bass/E minor chord progression/working like a dog on the road executed incredibly well. (Earth) vs a band like the WH where the wild spontaneity manifests itself in something like Love U til I don’t which is basically a collection of riffs that keep on getting better, with a bunch of outrageous harmonies laid over the top. I bet you anything Ginger wrote it in 5 mins while wasted – Steve simply couldn’t have written that after a couple of pints of mild. Not totally sure of the overall point I’m trying to make here – maybe it’s that we are lucky to have two such incredible (and different) bands in our lives 🙂

      • It’s impossible to go to that parallel universe where Ginger wasn’t a hugely talented junkie for the 90s to find out. But I don’t think they’ve got the same kind of substance problems now, and his solo work and the Renaissance Men are not exactly major drops in quality. But as it stands, the fact that they’re not absolutely fkin massive is probably underselling the level of talent that he has, and that’s probably s result of the drugs etc. And putting F and C bombs into songs that otherwise would be ridiculously radio friendly!

        I think I heard it said that of the two main men in the Beatles, Lennon was really talented, whilst McCartney got good through hard work. If that’s true, Ginger is probably more Lennon and Steve is probably more McCartney. And they’re both awesome.

    • Agree, the WH (and Ginger specifically) should be bigger than they are. The Lennon / McCartney comparison is also spot on and got me thinking, can you imagine an alternate history where Steve hired Ginger instead of Janick in the early 90s??

      • That would have been absolute carnage! Ginger’s songwriting would have substituted for Adrian’s much more readily than Janick’s did (I’m not sure where he was in his progression in 1990, so let’s just assume he heads the same general direction). Not much of it would work for Iron Maiden though. I guess things would have iterated differently, but I’m just imagining Caprice on The X Factor and The Miles Away Girl on Fear Of The Dark, and it’s not really working! I could imagine Sky Babies or Channel Bop working in an Iron Maiden style though, musically if not lyrically.

        Steve would have tolerated his lifestyle (or rather the consequences of it) for about 15 seconds, and Ginger isn’t the kind of character to be on the sidelines too much. If it had burned at all, it would have been bright but brief.

        Maybe if that has happened though, Bruce would never have left, it would certainly have taken the band in a different direction which he might have found appealing.

      • I’m trying to imagine Fear of the Dark reworked as a pumped up riff fest about getting arrested in a tube station or Sky Babies with a slow spoken word section in the middle detailing the conquests of Ghengis Khan in the 13th century

  2. I’m enjoying this flurry of reviews, Christer: many thanks. Re. Eddie’s Archive, a glorified biscuit tin and ridiculously overpriced. I bought it, obviously. And had to sell it not long afterwards when I was skint… 😉 I liked the BBC Archives the best. There should really have been a third disc to accommodate all of the B-sides, and something like a supplement to ‘Listen With Nicko!’ would have been nice. Bruce does sound as if he’s been on the helium on Beast Over Hammersmith, but Doug Hall’s production is great. I imagine Steve’s input was fairly minimal. The guitar sound is beefy and Steve’s bass actually has some bass. It’s a world away from the 1993 ‘soundboard’ albums. Also liked Hall’s production on the Wickerman (and Out of the Silent Planet?) live b-sides.

    • Ross, yeah, paradoxically I think Hall’s credits on both the 1982 and 1999 recordings would mean that these are close to being actual soundboard recordings, while the 1993 live albums would have sounded much better if they were exactly that.

      • Haha! I think we’ve all got soundboard bootlegs, and even audience recordings, that sound better than certain official live albums.

  3. Dave Voss and zomboid81, let me know when that Wildhearts blog goes up, ’cause I’ll be a regular reader. 🙂

    • Once I’ve worked out what I could possibly say beyond “I love Schitzophonic” I’ll let you know.

      Seriously, maximum respect for the content you can come up with.

  4. Morning Christer, any thoughts on the writing on the wall? I’m really impressed by it, although I tend to be by most maiden releases and only tend to be a bit more objective over time! More complex than recent lead off singles (perhaps not Benjamin breeg) plus eastern influenced riffs and symbolism aplenty, it could easily sit on powerslave. Bruce a bit buried in the mix for me but overall ongoing evidence that they are taking their late career seriously and not just playing the hits on the road like soMETALLICAme I could mention

    • Morning Dave! I like it a lot. The best thing is that I can’t immediately think of a track similar to it in the Maiden catalog. The mix sounds much better on Spotify, I agree that Bruce disappears in the video version. I love the western-ish feel of the intro, and the solo section is fantastic.

      • TWOTW on initial listen lends more to a solo Bruce song from his earlier catalog, much like the song Son of a Gun. It’s more hard rock, than traditional metal, at least until the solos, then it kicks into more of metal. The lyrics and mood of the music capture the story being told in the video. For me watching the video along with the song was more pleasing than the listening to the song alone. Overall, I liked it, but was hoping for an “epic”. But usually, IM first single from an album is not the strongest material of what is to come. This song had elements of Mother Russia, The Nomad, and If Eternity Should Fail. It’s seems to be an extension or next part of If Eternity Should Fail.

      • Christer, re. TWOTW, agree about the solos, especially Adrian’s: WOW! But the odd southern/country/roots rock riff just sounds off to me. It is more suited to Smith/Kotzen’s classic rock vibe and jars with Bruce’s vocal. Listened to it on Spotify and Amazon Music; far better than YT but Bruce is still low in the mix.

        Dave, in no way can I imagine that this could ‘sit on Powerslave’. Excepting the solos, where is the dynamism that characterises Powerslave?

        Although short in length for a modern Maiden track, the song feels too long and plodding. The Belshazzar’s Feast posters had me anticipating a rather snappier and more metal single. However, I am curious to hear it in the context of the album, and it may be one of those tracks that clicks for me when performed live. I didn’t like Dance of Death at all until I heard it live.

      • I’m enjoying it. It’s really good that (probably) 17 albums in they can come up with songs which are distinct from the rest of the back catalogue. I did have it as an Adrian song pretty much right off though, not enough Em/C/G/D in there for a Steve tune 😉

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