What does it sound like?:
Steve Harris, the captain and founder of Iron Maiden, once said “the only legacy I want to leave behind with Iron Maiden is that everybody remembers us as a bloody great live band”. And it´s probably safe to say most people who have experienced them live will do. The Book Of Souls: Live Chapter is a live album (two CDs or three vinyls) documenting various shows all over the world during the band´s latest tour in support of their first studio double CD, The Book Of Souls. Two million people attended the tour. Pretty good going for a band with no history of radio play or proper hits. And 37 years in, they´re still getting bigger. Now with three generations of fans celebrating their music.
More than one third of the album´s fifteen songs come from The Book Of Souls. It´s one of their stronger, later efforts (later means post-millennium), the progtastic title track being a particular favourite for all its glorious eleven minute duration, along with the slightly trimmer Death Or Glory.
The rest of the songs are mostly the usual suspects. Fear Of The Dark, The Trooper and Number Of The Beast are all here. A lot of the usual suspects, however, are not here. Too many classics, so little time. But we get deep(ish) cuts like Children Of The Damned and Wratchild.
It´s a nice combo of songs about war, horror movies and climbing like a monkey. Not a single song about fencing or bringing your daughter to the slaughter, which is a good thing.
Some might say 1985´s Live After Death is the only Iron Maiden live album you need. Some might say sunshine follows thunder. Go and tell it to the man who lives in Hull. Those people are wrong, even if it is a great album.
(End of intermission)
Hardcore-fans have quite a collection of live albums by now. This is the fifth in 15 years, not counting reissues and such. We don´t have to buy them all of course, but we do anyway. Also, and a bit more surprisingly, for people who are not fans but would like to dip their toes, this would be a nice place to start.
All but two songs are short and snappy, ie under eight minutes. You can hear the love and excitement in the audience participation during fan-favourite Fear Of The Dark, and if you know the exact moment Eddie (the lovely chap gracing all their albums and t-shirts) shows up during Iron Maiden the song you can hear the excitement there as well. The audience´s respons to singer Bruce Dickinson´s often repeated invitation to “scream for me” gives me goosebumps, because I´ve been there. Though some of the slightly too loud backing vocals do not give me goosebumps.
And a final warning! If you listen to this album and haven´t experienced Iron Maiden live, chances are you´ll want to. These six guys take their fun very seriously. Catch them while you can and enjoy the ride. They won´t be around forever.
What does it all *mean*?
A lot (most of) the heavy metal I was listening to as a teenager sound awful to me now. Iron Maiden still sound great. And the good kind of silly doesn´t grow old.
Goes well with…
Air guitar, air bass, air drums, jogging and jumping about in general. Perhaps a cool bottle of their own Trooper beer afterwards.
Might suit people who like…
Classic heavy metal, NWOBHM, big choruses, a bit of prog, history documentaries, gallop bass, three guitars playing in harmony, drums all over the place, high pitched singing and tempo changes. Oh, and Spinal Tap. There´s that element as well.