Back in 2006 Joey Bruers, bassist for Up The Irons – an Iron Maiden tribute band from Holland – was asked to do a show for the Dutch Iron Maiden fan club convention and decided to do something different from the usual tribute / cover set, ultimately getting together with a few musicians from various bands to perform a set of Iron Maiden songs acoustically.
Following a great reception at the convention – including approval from Steve Harris of Iron Maiden – Bruers decided to take things more seriously and began to work with guitarist Ruud Jolie of Within Temptation on acoustic arrangements of a number of Iron Maiden songs for an album under the banner Maiden United.
Featuring Bruers and Jolie alongside vocalist Damian Wilson from progressive metal band Threshold, drummer Mike Coolen from Within Temptation and pianist Marco Kuypers from Cloudmachine, the first album “Mind The Acoustic Pieces”, released in 2010, was a re-imagining of Iron Maiden’s 1983 “Piece Of Mind” record.
In 2012 “Across The Seventh Sea” was released, this time with tracks from various points in Iron Maiden’s catalogue re-imagined.
Line-up changes saw new drummer Stef Broks of Textures, pianist Huub Van Loon of Dearworld and keyboardist Thijs Schrijnemakers of Orgel Vreten joining the nucleus of Bruers, Jolie and Wilson for third album “Remembrance”, which features guest vocal appearances from ex-Iron Maiden singers Blaze Bayley and Paul Di’Anno as well as Marcela Bovio of Stream Of Passion and Dutch hip-hop singer Wudstik.
The album starts with current single “Strange World” and I’d have to say that, although at first glance you might think that the idea of Iron Maiden’s songs performed with a piano-heavy, acoustic arrangement wouldn’t work, overall I think it does.
There is, granted, something a little odd about hearing the lyrics to “Charlotte The Harlot” sung against a piano, bass, drums, acoustic guitar and organ backing – yet the same thing works more effectively for “Killers” which is no less a heavy song originally, and actually the approach makes for a refreshing change and shines new light on the strength of the actual songs.
This album won’t be for all Iron Maiden fans – as I touched on recently when addressing Whitesnake’s “Purple Album” there will always be some fans for whom the original recordings are sacred and untouchable. However, whilst I would have to admit that I would listen to Iron Maiden’s versions more often than these, if you’re prepared to give it a chance this is actually a pretty decent record – and one that you could play quite happily if you want to hear music without it being too intrusive. That’s not to say that this is musak for elevators etc., there’s much more to it than that, but at the same time it is a far more relaxed approach than found on the original versions!
1. Strange World / 2. Charlotte The Harlot / 3. Killers / 4. Remember Tomorrow / 5. Burning Ambition / 6. Futureal / 7. Aces High / 8. Prowler / 9. Still Life ’15
1, 2, 4 and 8 originally from “Iron Maiden” (1980) / 3 originally from “Killers” (1981) / 5 originally the B-side of “Running Free” single (1980) / 6 originally from “Virtual XI” (1998) / 7 originally from “Powerslave” (1984) / 9 originally from “Piece Of Mind” (1983)