In general, I think that tribute albums are a good thing. They
allow fans to reminisce over a band's glory days and hear different
interpretations of their old favorites. They also provide a "safe
buy" to younger listeners when the bands that they are familiar
with get to play the songs that influenced their own musical careers.
Numbers From The Beast though, is a little different in
that most of the contributing bands were either Iron Maiden
contemporaries, or from the following decade. This is almost exclusively
an "old fan" record that will have a hard time marketing
itself to a newer audience, and that's too bad.
One of the other elements making for a good tribute album is
that the contributors have to do a good job with their re-interpretation
of the source material. Assembling a record of cover tunes from
a multitude of sources can be an even more daunting task than
assembling the originals. Fans can be fickle with their regard
of bands they hold sacred; deviate too far and you lose their
interest because they don't recognize the song anymore, but
if all you offer is an exact copy of the original song, they
wonder why they don't just listen to the real thing.
But, someone(s) took their time with this album and it shows.
Some of Iron Maiden's best songs are showcased here, and even
the odd combinations of band members assembled for each song,
some of which look so wrong on paper, (Testament / Styx
/ Dio / Motörhead on "Fear of the Dark")
still come out sounding pretty good. Or at least, very interesting,
as is the case with Lemmy's vocals on "The Trooper",
which still sounds great even if it is funny to think of Kilmister
trying to sing like Dickinson before a befuddled producer
finally tells him to sing in the same octave he's always sung
The end result is that this is a must-have for every old metalhead
out there, even those that aren't terribly familiar with IM
(I'd only heard a handful of their songs before, but I'm definitely
going to look for more of their stuff now). Or, if you just
want to re-live the tense moments of the Reagan-era Cold War,
these songs will resurrect the memories of that paranoid dread
that could only be experienced by the omni-present barrage of
terms like "nuclear winter", "ground zero",
and "fallout shelter."
1. Run To The Hills
2. Wasted Years
4. Flight Of Icarus
5. Fear Of The Dark
6. The Trooper
7. Aces High
8. 2 Minutes To Midnight
9. Can I Play With Madness?
10. The Evil That Men Do
11. The Wickerman
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