Live After Death

Iron Maiden

Raw Power Records, 1985

REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy


Some live albums work. Not as a cheap way to sell more albums without doing any recorded time in the studio, but as albums that genuinely add to a band's collection of work. That is especially evident if the band is known for delivering a great live show. Dozens of albums come to mind. Bob Dylan's electrifying live album released this year, Nirvana's MTV show that showcased their softer side and James Brown's live stuff comes to mind. Oh yeah, and Iron Maiden as well.

Yup. 'Dis the Irons as much as you want, but in the '80s they were known for their over-the-top theatrical shows. Their Powerslave era was the beginning of an era where the stage of an Iron Maiden concert looked like it could make a football-sized stadium look cramped. The full-Egyptian stage of my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Powerslave provides the basis of their excellent Live After Death CD.

The introduction is pure heavy metal camp at its finest: A sprawling speech by Winston Churchill. After Churchill declares, "We Will Never Surrender", the thunderous "Aces High" comes on. It's Maiden's declaration of war and for the next hour, Maiden owns your boom box.

Bruce Dickinson's vocals (sorry folks, he IS the voice of Iron Maiden, as much as Sean Connery is James Bond) translates extremly well live. Many of the songs, especially "Two Minutes To Midnight," "Powerslave" and "The Number Of The Beast" sound very much like the studio versions.

With no drum solos, audience cheering to a minimum, Live After Death isn't an excessive example of self-promotion. You know the crowd is going nuts, from the audience singing the chorus of "Two Minutes To Midnight" to the playful banter that Dickinson has with the audience.

If Dickinson is the star of this album, bassist Steve Harris is certainly the co-star. His jaw-dropping technique makes songs like "The Trooper" and "Rime Of The Ancient Mariner" stand out as Maiden classics. The highlight of the concert comes from the ferocious version of "Run To The Hills." In that song, Dickinson sounds like he is as possessed as the zombified mascot, Eddie in the background and Harris creates a galloping bassline that will have even jaded critics pick up an air bass.

Sadly, there are a couple of tracks on the CD version that are not on the cassette version. I picked up Live After Death used on CD last week and to my surprise, "Phantom Of The Opera" and "Die With Your Boots On" were not on the CD version. Given the power of how much a CD can store, I'm surprised as to why these songs were not included. They may have not been the best songs on the album, but they added a continuity to the album that is not on the CD version. (Editor's note: Sean obtained a copy of the original Capitol release. Live After Death has since been re-issued in a two-disc format which has the entire show, as well as multimedia selections.)

CD version or cassette version, Live After Death stands as one of the best albums in Iron Maiden's collection. With material this good, it's hard not to look at their later efforts after Somewhere In Time with some degree of sadness.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1998 Sean McCarthy and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Raw Power Records, and is used for informational purposes only.