Skip to content

Iron Maiden – The Essential Iron Maiden

It’s a bit hard to fathom what Sanctuary Records had in mind when producing The Essential Iron Maiden. Anyone who was even remotely near Coors Amphitheatre last Tuesday heard what is truly the essential Iron Maiden, and unfortunately this newly released two-disc offering falls shockingly short of the title’s lofty claim.

Taking a brief break from its gig on this year’s Ozzfest tour to play its only North American headlining concert of 2005, Iron Maiden ripped through a furious set of songs from nothing but the band’s first four albums. Now that’s what I call essential.


Which isn’t to say that Iron Maiden didn’t do anything noteworthy after Piece Of Mind. Certainly Powerslave, Somewhere In Time and some of its work released since then are still considered worthwhile. But the double disc doesn’t come close to fulfilling the listener’s expectations, which just serves to diminish the value of any subsequent release from the sextet.

Disc One is comprised almost entirely of new-era Maiden material. With all due respect to the boys, half of this side is nothing but throwaway material. Apparently, Sanctuary’s concept with this release was to compile songs from each and every lineup that Maiden has put forth over the years. The formula doesn’t work, getting mired almost immediately with a few tunes from vocalist Blaze Bayley, who briefly subbed for Bruce Dickinson and remains a blip on the radar that most fans would just as soon forget.

Fortunately, Disc Two rescues what little value is left, relying primarily on classic Maiden and some select live cuts. The Paul Di’Anno era gets a nod in the form of some choice tracks, although Bruce sings two of the live tunes that were originally Di’Anno’s.

Perhaps Sanctuary felt that multiple live albums, box sets and greatest hits discs put them in the position of thinking creatively. My advice would be to slowly step away from the think tank and go back to what got you there.


Sign up to our newsletter and get updates to your mailbox