This six-disc, casket-packaged set will pretty much kill off whatever market there might be for Iron Maiden bootlegs in 2002. Consisting of two discs each of B-sides, BBC-recorded tracks (mainly live) and Maiden's 1982 "Beast on the Road" live show (recorded at Hammersmith Odeon), "Eddie's Archive" is all the non-LP Maiden you could ever need. And it gloriously makes the case for the band as the pre-eminent heavy metal band of the '80s (if not all time).
Live tracks obviously make up the bulk of the set, and performances from the Reading Festival (1980 and 1982) as well as other gems like a 1980 club performance of "Drifter" are testament to the inarguable live power of the band. (Not to mention that "Beast Over Hammersmith" utterly smokes "Live After Death" in the raw power department.) Although the B-side discs provide some loose-limbed studio laughs ("That Girl?"), the real treasure is the 1979 Maida Vale BBC sessions. Four tracks -- "Iron Maiden," "Running Free," "Transylvania" and "Sanctuary" -- recorded live in the studio with the original lineup are as punk as they are premetal. It's an amazing band at work here; a band that would be utterly ashamed of tripe like "Virtual XI."