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Published: May 08, 2008
When older Maiden fans were wrinkling their noses as Blaze Bayley was announced as Bruce Dickinson's replacement, an emerging generation of future fans were still, literally, in nappies. And so, to make sure there's absolutely no reason for them not to be belting out these classics as loudly as men old enough to be their fathers, they're allowing first-timers to hear the tracks online for nowt, before shelling out for the full version. Those with a full set of '80s Maiden stuff needn't worry they're missing out on anything. All this is available elsewhere, but as a homework piece, metal collections don't come much more solid than this. The Trooper's full-throttle charge will never get old. Nor will the mournful intro to Hallowed By Thy Name, or the moment of unparalleled excitement when The Number Of The Beast kicks in. It's all obvious stuff, and you won't find an Alexander The Great or Sunlight And Steel, but that's not the point here. These tracks are the absolute bread and butter of an Iron Maiden gig, and making sure everyone's up to speed is the perfect way of ensuring maximum metal enjoyment for all concerned.
The chances are you'll never get laid to an Iron Maiden song, ever. While there is no denying that Maiden are truly the greatest metal band the world has seen, the chances of seduction to the likes of 'The Trooper' or 'Run To The Hills' are minimal. If you have succeeded, Rock Sound wants to know how. And that's the unique thing about Maiden, 'cos we're sure even COF have secured a few orgasmic moments here and there. The other unique thing is thay've managed to come up with yet another compiliation album! Offered in a special way (download this for free and play three times before you buy permanently, if you like what you hear), this compilation focuses on the early years (and for many, the definitive Maiden setlist) and it's being marketed at younger fans who don't know the back catalogue. The songs sound great (but we knew that already), and we know you'll never have sex to '2 Minutes To Midnight' - but if you haven't got these songs on your iPod, at least now you've got the opportunity to get choice cuts with minimal fuss. Cash-in or clever marketing, it really is hard to get bored of the likes of 'Powerslave' and 'Aces High' regardless.
Not many bands could get away with releasing what amounts to a fourth 'best of' compilation without being roundly decried as money-grabbing bastards, but then Iron Maiden have made a habit of bending the rules to fit their own illustrious forward march. In fact it's a testament to this band's enduring appeal that the official justification for Somewhere Back In Time sounds so reasonable. This may not be the most essential of collections for those who have lived and breathed these songs for two decades or more, but as an introduction to the British metal titans' all-conquering 80s catalogue for wide-eyed newcomers who have signed up to the pro-Maiden cause over the last few years it takes some beating. When the means of delivery is taken into account - these 15 tracks will be available to download for free in a high-quality audio format; the only drawback is that the files will expire after three plays - it's clear that the Maiden camp are simply moving with the times and acknowledging the changing requirements of their fan base, while doing little to damage their reputation for looking after the faithful in the process. Largely a selection from their current setlist, this is a relentless, 10-minute crowd pleaser marathon, taking in most of the hits from Maiden's first decade, plus a smattering of worthy album tracks. Timeless anthems that still make the adrenalin surege and the sinews stiffen after all these years; everything from the blistering Live After Death version of Aces High, through to perennial show-stopper Hallowed Be Thy Name continues to exude that indefinable 'it' that has long enabled Maiden to stand apart from peers and pretenders alike. And if you're still not convinced that there's any need for this compilation to exist, try imagining yourself as an acne-plagued 12 year old discovering Maiden for the first time, cranking up The Trooper, The Number Of The Beast or Poweslave and gaining free entry into the life-affirming, magical world of Iron fucking Maiden. There's no going back.