Become a fan of h2g2
On this day, at the time of writing (9.30pm), I have listened to Iron Maiden's 1998 album Virtual XI twice. Though there are songs on there which I've heard about a dozen times.
An inferior version of The X Factor.
Of course, that was just my first impression. After I'd listened to it, I reminded myself what I'd said about those people who'd given The X Factor a hard time. I wasn't giving Virtual XI enough of a chance. Plus, when I first listen to an album I tend to be a bit sceptical of it. So I listened again...
Like The X Factor, this is a misunderstood item of genius.
Well, maybe not as good as The X Factor (but remember I'm still getting used to this).
Futureal - A great opener for the album. No warning, just leaping straight into the song. And a stonker it is. This is like a 90s version of what Maiden sounded like in the 80s. Brilliant.
The Angel And The Gambler - I'd first heard this song on the single, which was what spurred me on to buy the album. The single version is just 6-odd minutes long, as opposed to nearly 10 minutes on the album. The missing bits are slow peices, so if you bought the single then you'd have a pretty heavy peace on your hands. The album version has calmer spots.
The constant repition of the chorus works well, especially in the slow parts where it's mumbled. Add the keyboards (which so called Maiden die-hards will hate - though luck Philistines!) and you have one great song.
Lightening Strikes Twice - Once you've got this far, you know what the overall sound of the album is like. This is one of the ok tracks, but just not as good as what follows...
The Clansman - Another 9 minute wopper, this starts off very calm and tranquil. Even your granny may like it. Two calm verses, then the mandatory hard music that Maiden love. The Clansman tells the story of the Celts fighting for their land against the Romans, and the lyrics are short and snappy. Stonker.
When Two Worlds Collide - Iron Maiden frequently tell stories with their songs, and if you only skimmed through the lyrics for this you'd be forgiven for thinking this was a tale about Earth being splatted by a meteorite. But no, this is just an excuse to play great music. There is great potential in this song, but it has not been used. Well, I'm not writing them...
The Educated Fool - I doubt you'd care much about this one. More of the same. Good for passing the time and providing background noise.
Don't Look To The Eyes Of A Stranger - Good song.
Como Estais Amigoes - A brilliant closing track for the album. This is actually pretty poignant, starts of quiet, then speeds up.
When I was listening to this for the second time, I was playing Goldeneye in the N64, and was armed with two RC-P90s. Then came the chorus at the end, over and over again:
No more tears, no more tearsThat came when I was just into a massacre. I saw shots coming from behind me...turn around and there's a guy I missed, he's got blood over his arm but he's still shooting me. For his bravery he died.
If we live for a hundred years
Amigos no more tears
Then came the soldiers who hadn't time to move before I lay into them. A scientist tried to get out, but by the time the door was opening I'd leapt beside him and orphaned his children. More soldiers came running down the stairs - they died as soon as they got to the bottom. And as this is happenening I've got "No more tears..." coming from my right...amzing stuff.
Notes on album
Once the album was finished, I had a bath. and while I'm in there I start thinking: "Why hasn't Steve Harris got a knighthood for his songwriting?" Hey, the Beatles got MBEs, so surely Harris deserves something before he dies?
ONe thing that put me off buying this album earlier was the fact that there are only 8 tracks. But on closer inspection the album lasts 53.22 minutes. Check out the times for each song:
- Futureal - 3.00
- The Angel And The Gambler - 9.51
- Lighhtening Strikes Twice - 4.49
- The Clansmen - 9.06
- When Two Worlds Collide - 6.13
- The Educated Fool - 6.46
- Don't Look To The Eyes Of A Stranger - 8.11
- Como Estais Amigoes - 5.26
So, would you want to buy this album?
If you're a first time buyer, probably not. Depends on your tastes. If you prefer 80s metal then you'll hate this, and vice versa. Generally I'd recommend any other album over this for a first time buy.
If you're an experienced Maiden fan, then it depends how open-minded you are/whether you liked The X Factor or not.
Me? I'm still getting to grips with it...