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Numbers From The Beast - An All Star Salute To Iron Maiden (CD)

Numbers From The Beast
An All Star Salute To Iron Maiden
by Orpheus Spiliotopoulos at 11 November 2005, 9:11 AM

In the year 2005 if someone told you there's an Iron Maiden tribute CD out, you'd probably reply I got a big ugly zit dwelling on my ass and maple sauce won't make it go away. But what if someone told you there's an All Star Tribute To Iron Maiden out? I for one would probably go define All Star…
Well, let's take a quick look at what's inside this tribute album: Iron Maiden, KISS, AC/DC, Motorhead, Anthrax, Dio, Judas Priest, Ozzy's band, Testament, Twisted Sister, Extreme, Slaughter, Whitesnake, Led Zeppelin, Mr. Big, Poison, MSG, Helmet, Styx, UFO, Lynch Mob, Suicidal Tendencies, Dokken, Rob Zombie, Rainbow, The Firm, WWE Wrestler Chris Jericho…
Wow! Press pause before continuing. Did you read the above paragraph carefully? Well, when I first saw each track's lineup, I definitely noded positively to the term All Star. I mean, I should have expected something like this since Mr. Bob Kulick's behind it. Michael Schenker (M.S.G., ex-U.F.O., ex-Scorpions), Tim Ripper Owens (Iced Earth, Beyond Fear, ex-Judas Priest), Lemmy Kilmister (Motorhead), Joe Lynn Turner (ex-Deep Purple, ex-Rainbow), John Bush (Armored Saint, ex-Anthrax), Chuck Billy (Testament), Paul Di'Anno (ex-Iron Maiden)….shit, I got dizzy just by typing those few names. But what are all those dudes doing in this tribute album? Let's take a closer look at every track…
Run To The Hills: Legendary all-time Iron Maiden classic, found on one of the greatest Heavy Metal albums ever released, Number Of The Beast (1982, EMI) - and was also on the first (same titled) single for that album. Though Robin McAuley gave me the feeling he'd do well on this track (at first), after a while I didn't feel I liked the vocals, they just felt a bit weird I guess. Not bad, definitely not bad overall (and Michael Schenker kicks ass as usual on guitars), it's just that I'd probably like someone else on the vocals of this particular cover. Of course it's always hard to get used to someone else other than Bruce Dickinson…
Wasted Years: Probably Iron Maiden's MOST nostalgic song ever written, found on 1986's superb Somewhere In Time (which also features the never-to-be-witnessed-at-a-gig ode to the great Greek general…Alexander The Great) and of course on the same titled single which came out in 2 different versions, one of them featuring the really entertaining (in a funny sense) The Sheriff Of Huddersfield (written for their - now - longtime manager Rod Smallwood). Oh my, Dee Snider (Twisted Sister) gives his own - awesome - vocal version of this song, accompanied by ex-Dokken musicians George Lynch and Jeff Pilson (on guitar and bass respectively), the always magnificent Bob Kulick on guitar and a legendary drummer's son (who's also one hell of a musician), Jason Bonham. What more can I say? This is one of my favorite tracks on this tribute.
Wrathchild: Now here's a weird cover… Killers (1981, EMI) was singer Paul Di'Anno's final album with Iron Maiden (and the band's second full length). Ages went by, Iron Maiden marched on a glorious highway to glory and are now one of Heavy Metal history's most significant bands. But what about Di'Anno? He really vanished for a long period from the scene and re-appeared somewhere in the late 90's with a rather obscure style than what we were used to - definitely not Maiden - but later (apparently) noticed how unsuccessful all that was and focused more (I guess) on doing live gigs, playing his all time classics from back in the day when he was a part of Iron Maiden. Well, to be quite honest with you, I was quite afraid of what I'd hear when I read Paul Di'Anno - vocals on this track's lineup. Thank goodness, Paul's performance (this time…) was fairly ok, unlike what he sounds like live, at times. I guess the studio's always an easier place to be singing in rather than on stage. I'm not really here to judge a musician who's played a major role in the music I love the most - just to express the concern I had before listening to the track. All is well though, there's even a high-pitched scream by the end of the song that really amazed me. I only wish he could constantly keep it this good…
Flight Of Icarus: Featured on 1983's Piece Of Mind (EMI), the best track in my opinion off this Maiden record - also a single that came out in 2 versions (again). For those of you who don't know who Ripper is, I guess you don't listen to a lot of Heavy Metal, do you? Ex-Judas Priest singer, probably the best (back then) replacement Priest could have found after the band's split with Metal God Rob Halford. Now in Iced Earth he's screaming behind the microphone on behalf of guitarist/mastermind Jon Schaffer and I guess all goes well anyway. Ripper's voice is one of the best I've ever heard for Heavy Metal covers of all sorts. He's covered (apart from Judas Priest tracks before joining them) known songs before, like for example Black Sabbath's War Pigs or Ozzy's Mr. Crowley and now the time had come to cover this Iron Maiden classic along with oh shit, oh shit: Dio/Whitesnake guitarist Doug Aldrich, Dio/ex-AC/DC drummer Simon Wright and Dio/ex-Rainbow bassist Jimmy Bain. Best cover on this tribute - a remarkable performance by Ripper.
Fear Of The Dark: One of Iron Maiden fans' favorite sing-along tracks all over the world. Originally found on the 1992 same titled full length release, I never wondered how come it's almost on every best of/live Iron Maiden compilation. Here we have an interesting vocal approach by Testament's Chuck Billy, a more brutal (no, not brutal as in Deicide's Glen Benton, hehe) version, an overall more dark interpretation of this song. Nothing to blow my whistle about but definitely of some interest. Mikkey Dee (Motorhead) is behind the drums here…
The Trooper: Talk about famous Iron Maiden tracks… Originally found on Piece Of Mind, it was also a single release (featuring Crosseyed Marry…ah, what a track!). I've heard various Rock/Metal vocalists try to cover this one before. Yup, I've heard Sentenced kill the poor song, I've heard Machine Head try it out (bleh), Dream Theater cover it quite well, etc. I never really expected though to hear Motorhead's Lemmy sing it… On the other hand, he has sung Sex Pistols' God Save The Queen and Metallica's Enter Sandman before and he always seems to have what it takes to make a song even groovier in a way. You either love his vocals no matter what he sings or you hate him - but to my knowledge most rockers/metalheads love him, so you'll definitely enjoy this cool version of The Trooper. Note: bass duties are not handled by Lemmy on this track (must have felt weird for him…) but by Chuck Wright (Alice Cooper, Quiet Riot).
Aces High: Is it ever an easy thing to say this album's the best Iron Maiden album? Surely not for me. Nevertheless I would consider Powerslave (1984, EMI) one of Iron Maiden's star releases, Aces High being in it, along with other classics like 2 Minutes To Midnight, Powerslave (covered in other tribute albums), Rime Of The Ancient Mariner and Flash of The Blade etc. On the other hand, you've got Jeff Scott Soto, a musician who knows the word covers all too well. He's sung on covers ranging from Madonna's Frozen and Prince's Purple Rain to Ozzy's Shot In The Dark, Steppenwolf's Born To Be Wild etc. The question was for me, though, how well he'd manage to sing a song like this one. Verdict: Just fine, especially in the refrain. The rhythm section (which is a vital part of this song apart from the vocals) is handled by one of the best bassists around nowadays, Mr. Billy Sheenan and I hope you don't go who's this? when I say… drummer Vinny Appice (well, in an case: ex-Black Sabbath, ex-DIO, ex-Axis etc). Really good cover.
2 Minutes To Midnight: Again, a track off the Powerslave album, which was also a two-versions single - one of them being a real rare collectible, the 2 Minutos Para La Media Noche Mexican release. Joe Lynn Turner is (as most of you might know) quite the here and there singer, meaning he's been involved in more things I could remember right now (Deep Purple, Rainbow and HTP being the bands that come in mind straight away). I was really curious to listen to this cover sinceTurner's the singer on one of my all-time favorite Rainbow tracks, Street Of Dreams (1983, Polydor). He's not bad on 2 Minutes To Midnight, nor are his famous mates on this cover - Ritzie Kotzen on guitar (I bet it was easy to have him play on this track since they're friends), Chris Slade (!!) on drums and oh well, Bob Kulick (of course) and Tony Franklin - but I have the feeling he could have done a tad better.
Can I Play With Madness: If there's an album that absolutely marked my life as a teenager, that would definitely be 7th Son Of A 7th Son (1988, EMI). Iron Maiden's darkest album with Bruce Dickinson in my opinion; a feeling you certainly don't get from nowadays' releases. Mark Slaughter's singing wasn't cheesy as I was afraid it would be. Of course, Can I Play With Madness is one of my least favorite tracks off that unimaginably exceptional Heavy Metal album and personally I would have loved to listen to this lineup try out for example Moonchild or The Evil That Men Do (instead of Chris Jericho, who's effort I didn't really like…). Anyway, it's a nice attempt.
The Evil That Men Do: As I mentioned in the paragraph above, this cover is definitely - to me - the worst cover on this tribute album. I don't dislike WWE wrestler and Fozzy mainman Chris Jericho, it has nothing to do with that, it's just that his voice sucks so much this time - it really made me wonder why on Earth he chose to cover this track instead of anything else. The only one saving the situation here seems to be guitarist Paul Gilbert (Racer-X, ex-Mr. Big) whom I really admire as an axeman.
The Wicker Man: Ah, one of Iron Maiden's tracks from their recent chapter (the reunited, post-Blaze era we're currently in). Originally found on 2000's Brave New World album, also released as a single in 3 (!!!) different versions (I'm not sure if there's a 4th one but there may be…), Wicker Man is a catchy Maiden song but not one of the best songs on that album. The Armored Saint/Anthrax team of John Bush (vocals), Jeff Duncan (guitar), Scott Ian (guitar), along with the rest of the lineup on this trac, could have covered something else and surely in a better way than what they did on this cover. Yup, I'm not impressed, thrilled or happy with this one - unfortunately - and it's a pity since they're all great musicians.
To come to a meaningful conclusion, I must say that there have been tributes and there have been tributes to mega-bands like Iron Maiden in the past. Numbers From The Beast though surely tops all of them with a distinct difference and class. This is what I'd call a proper Iron Maiden tribute though I'd also like to listen to something even more wicked than this; maybe for example Rob Halford covering an Iron Maiden song (or Maiden covering a Judas Priest song - hehe, that would be interesting too, indeed). Maybe it won't impress you straight away (apart from 2-3 tracks) but from the second time you'll spin it in your CD player, I'm sure you'll start liking those covers even more.
I had a lot in mind to say about Iron Maiden since I was given the opportunity but it would require a whole new Internet dedicated just to that. I don't think I can really rate a tribute album to such a glorious Metal band but I can at least rate the effort of the musicians involved…
I don't like being recognized, I have no interest in being famous at all, I just do what I do. If I could be like Captain Kirk and beam myself up and then beam myself down, I would! - Bruce Dickinson

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
Run To The Hills

Robin McAuley (MSG) - Vocals
Michael Schenker (MSG, ex-U.F.O.) - Guitar
Pete Fletcher (Pygmy Love Circus) - Guitar
Tony Franklin (The Firm) - Bass
Brian Tichy (Billy Idol) - Drums


Wasted Years

Dee Snider (Twisted Sister) - Vocals
George Lynch (Lynch Mob, ex-Dokken) - Guitar
Bob Kulick (Paul Stanley Band, Meatloaf) - Guitar
Jeff Pilson (ex-Dokken, Foreigner) - Bass
Jason Bonham (Bonham, Foreigner) - Drums


Wrathchild

Paul Di'Anno (ex-Iron Maiden) - Vocals
Alex Skolnick (Testament) - Guitar
Chris Traynor (Helmet, Bush) - Guitar
Frank Bello (Helmet, Anthrax) - Bass
John Tempesta (Helmet, Testament) - Drums


Flight Of Icarus

Ripper Ownes (Iced Earth, ex-Judas Priest) - Vocals
Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake, DIO) - Guitar
Jimmy Bain (DIO, ex-Rainbow)
Simon Wright (DIO, ex-AC/DC) - Drums


Fear Of The Dark

Chuck Billy (Testament) - Vocals
Craig Goldy (DIO) - Guitar
Rickie Phillips (Styx) - Bass
Mikkey Dee (Motorhead) - Drums


The Trooper

Lemmy Kilmister (Motorhead) - Vocals
Phil Campbell (Motorhead) - Guitar
Rocky George (Fishbone, Suicidal Tendencies) - Guitar
Chuck Wright (Alice Cooper, Quiet Riot) - Bass
Chris Slade (ex-AC/DC, The Firm) - Drums


Aces High

Jeff Scott Soto (Soul Sirkus) - Vocals
Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme, Dramagods) - Guitar
Billy Sheenan (Niacin, ex-Mr. Big) - Bass
Vinnie Appice (ex-Black Sabbath, ex-DIO) - Drums


2 Minutes To MIdnight

Joe Lynn Turner (ex-Deep Purple, ex-Rainbow) - Vocals
Richie Kotzen (Forty Deuce, ex-Poison, ex-Mr. Big) - Guitar
Bob Kulick (Paul Stanley Band, Meatloaf) - Guitar
Tony Franklin (The Firm) - Bass
Chris Slade (ex-AC/DC, The Firm) - Drums


Can I Play With Madness?

Mark Slaughter (Slaughter) - Vocals
Bruce Kulick (Grand Funk Railroad, ex-Kiss, ex-Meatloaf) - Guitar
Marco Mendoza (Thin Lizzy, Ted Nugent) - Bass
Aynsley Dunbar (David Bowie, Whitesnake) - Drums


The Evil That Men Do

Chris Jericho (Fozzy) - Vocals
Paul Gilbert (Racer-X, ex-Mr. Big) - Guitar
Bob Kulick (Paul Stanley Band, Meatloaf) - Guitar
Mike Inez (Alice In Chains, Ozzy) - Bass
Brent Fitz (Vince Neil, Union) - Drums


The Wickerman

Jon Buch (Armored Saint, ex-Anthrax) - Vocals
Jeff Duncan (Armored Saint) - Guitar
Scott Ian (Anthrax) - Guitar
Blasko (Rob Zombie) - Bass
Ben Graves (Murderdolls) - Drums
Jason Miller (Godhead) - Backing Vocals

Record Label: Restless Records
     


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