Maiden has put out quite a few live releases over the years, to their credit, they do rotate their setlist from tour to tour, and from one live release to another. So it does give you something to look forward to when picking an album or DVD/BluRay up. Here are my top 5 Iron Maiden live albums.
5 – Flight 666 – I’m a sucker for music documentaries, and I tend to check out releases by bands or genres I don’t tend to care for, so imagine checking something out by the band that along with Kiss are my all time favorites. The documentary is a great watch, visually stunning, and the accompanying soundtrack really well put together.
4 – Maiden England – Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son is possibly my favorite Iron Maiden Album, that said, I can say that Killer, Piece Of Mind and Powerslave are not far behind. But there was something special about this album and tour for me, maybe it was Adrian Smith’s last album, or the last in a series of great album, what I consider a great collection of songs. And if you’re part of the MTV Generation, the Headbanger’s Ball generation who could forget the video for “The Clairvoyant”, which was footage of 1988’s Monsters Of Rock Castle performance at Castle Donington over top of the album track. The Maiden England album was long out of print, it was a VHS release, that had found its way to DVD bootleg (which I also own), before it was finally remastered, repackaged with a new cover and re-released in 2013. The album contains a lot of tracks off of Seventh Son, but also the first time I had heard Bruce Dickinson sing the track Killers, and a favorite like Still Life. It was also the first time I really felt the influence of Clive Burr, as much as I love Nicko and his playing, Clive just had something, and it is very apparent while Nicko is playing “The Prisoner”.
3 – Rock In Rio – I was lucky enough to see the Brave New World tour, which had Queensryche and Halford opening up. Brave New World stands as the last great Iron Maiden album in my eyes, it was the first studio release since the return to the band of Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith, and as much as I’ve liked songs here and there, no album has measured up to this one in my eyes. So the tour that came after once again featured a bunch of tracks off of the instant classic of an album, as well as “The Clansman” and “Sign Of The Cross”, which were originally done by Dickinson’s replacement, Blaze Bayley. He did also do “Futureal” on a previous tour, which appeared as a b-side on a single. The album sounds great, and really provides a great cross section of material by the band.
2 – Maiden Japan – The rawness, the grit, the energy that was Paul DiAnno’s Iron Maiden, I absolutely love this era of the band. Yes this was an EP, but there are bootlegs out there with the entire show, and although there are b-sides that do include DiAnno live with the band, the greatness here is hard to deny. I get instant goosebumps hearing DiAnnoy say “I Want You To Sing For Me” before the band plows through “Running Free”. As cool as it sound with Bruce, it is hard for the fully produced stage show to come close to the specialness of the live renditions of these early tracks.
1 – Live After Death – I have listed to this album thousands of times, I have it on double cassette which put together forms what looks like the open gatefold of the vinyl release. I have owned it on single CD, which due to EMI/Capitol’s infinite wisdom they edit “Running Free” to remove the crown participation portion, and omit the classic side four, which was recorded at the old Hammersmith Odeon, instead of Long Beach Arena like the other three sides of the album. And I currently possess one of the many reissues the band and their management has decided to release over the years. Apparently, Steve Harris doesn’t care for the album, because a lot of the songs are sped up, but that’s what makes it special for me, that it isn’t the same as the studio album, and has a unique feel to it, making it seem like you were there, sending Bruce Dickinson to the hearing doctor! Also, gauge the uniqueness of a band that was selling out several nights at arenas in the US, and was still playing a hometown show that was at venue only held around 5,000 people.