Various Artists: Numbers From the Beast: An All Star Salute to Iron Maiden

Rather than have, say, Metallica or Mötorhead cover one of their favorite Maiden songs, they took some of the best talent in the heavy metal genre, put them all in a rock ’n’ roll blender, and saw how it all mixed up.

VARIOUS ARTISTS: NUMBERS FROM THE BEAST: AN ALL STAR SALUTE TO IRON MAIDEN (Reckless)

Growing up Southern Baptist in the Midwest, there were two bands my pastor warned his young heathens not to listen to: Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. These bands were doing the Devil’s work and we, as young Christian soldiers, should do everything we could to avoid the Devil’s message.

As you can guess by now, not only did I not heed my pastor’s warning, I immersed myself in the wicked ways of the legendary British metal masters. I was enthralled with everything Iron Maiden had to offer—from the vivid imagery in their lyrics to the menacing scowl of their mascot, Eddie. Iron Maiden songs not only rocked hard, they served as an outlet for angry young men in the ’80s. Most of their songs had deep, dark lyrics coupled with crunchy, in-your-face guitars. Their songs were not for the faint of heart—Maiden fans reveled in the fact that the band never compromised its lyrics, despite heavy pressure from parents and religious institutions.

If ever there was a band deserving of a tribute album, Iron Maiden is that band. Bruce Dickinson and Co. paved the way for such legendary acts as Metallica, Metal Church, and Queensrÿche. The producers of this all-star salute to Iron Maiden took a different approach to the album. Rather than have, say, Metallica or Mötorhead cover one of their favorite Maiden songs, they took some of the best talent in the heavy metal genre, put them all in a rock ’n’ roll blender, and saw how it all mixed up.

The results are startling. On “Wasted Years,” Dee Snider (Twisted Sister), George Lynch (Dokken), Bob Kulick (Paul Stanley Band), Jeff Pilson (Dokken), and Jason Bonham (Foreigner) all collide to give the Maiden classic a decent kick in the ass. Likewise, on “Can I Play With Madness,” Joe Lynn Turner (Deep Purple), Richie Kotzen (Poison), Bob Kulick (Paul Stanley Band), Tony Franklin (The Firm), and Chris Slade (AC/DC) breathe new life into an all-time favorite.

While all of the collaborations on the album are sensational, the standout track has got to be “Run to the Hills.” Robin McAuley’s (MSG) vocals are remarkable, Michael Schenker’s (MSG) guitar riffs sensational, and Brian Tichy’s (Billy Idol) drumbeats flat-out insane. Along with Pete Fletcher (Pygmy Love Circus) on rhythm guitar and Tony Franklin (The Firm) on bass, this particular grouping not only delivered a flawless cover, they truly captured the spirit of Iron Maiden—rock ’n’ roll at its finest.

Each group of musicians seemed to give painstaking attention to detail to each song while maintaining the original Iron Maiden sound. I suppose if it isn’t broken, you shouldn’t try to fix it. This album is a must have for any Maidenhead.

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