After the release of Keeper of the Seven Keys, Pt. 2, you’d think the world would be great for Helloween, since it cracked the top 30 in England, but instead, it turned into a world of shit for the band. First, their leader and guitar player Kai Hansen freaked out and quit the band on the verge of a tour. Then, they got a deal with EMI to buy them out of their contract with Noise Records, but it tied them up in a huge legal dispute for over two years. The product of that dispute was three live EPs, released by EMI to keep the band alive during their troubles.
I have to admit that I bought the US version of the EP when it came out. (There are also UK and Japanese versions, with different recordings, but only slightly different setlists. Oh, and the EPs have Kai Hansen on guitar, they were recorded before he split.) And for whatever reason, I listened to it a LOT. I still listen to it now and again. But I have to be honest with you: 85 percent of this 42-minute album is completely useless. I know, that’s heresey, but it’s true! Since it’s short enough, I will break it down for you track by track.
1: Intro/A Little Time: They waste a lot of time with the crowd chanting “happy Helloween.” Okay, I timed it, and it’s only like 25 seconds, but it’s such a huge waste of time, and this is a short album that’s only made to make us pay to keep thinking about the band until they put out another album, right? The song is not bad, with very Bruce Dickinson-sounding lyrics that are pretty tight, but then about three minutes in, there’s some vamping part that’s in there to kill time, probably while vocalist Michael Kiske slaps hands with people in the front row or something stupid.
2: Doctor Stein: Kiske spends TWO AND A HALF MINUTES babbling like a drunken idiot before the song starts. The song is okay, except where Kiske inserts a “1-2-3-4” before singing part of a verse, which drives me fucking homicidal.
3: Future World: About a minute and a half of rambling and guitar tomfoolery until the song starts up. Kiske tries to get the audience to sing the first verse, and only about three people know the words. For fuck’s sake, if you are singer, DO YOUR JOB and sing the song instead of trying to get the audience to sing it. Nobody cares.
Seriously. He does this in one or two other places, with predictable results. Then about six minutes into the song, they go into one of those huge audience participation wastes of time where the drums keep the same beat, and the guitar does dumb shit for six bars, and then the singer tries to get everyone to sing, etc. Iron Maiden did it on the song “Running Free” and it wasn’t even cool when they did it.
4: We Got the Right: About thirty seconds of guitar noodling, which is actually better than the song. I hate this song for some reason. It’s just mid-paced ballady bullshit. I wish the US version
of this EP had something better here.
5: I Want Out: Finally! A really good song, no stupid intros, no audience sing-alongs. Unfortunately, it only lasts four minutes, and then we get a bunch of chanting of “here we go, here we go, here we go,” as Kiske tries to rev the audience up for an encore. Another two minutes are wasted, as he sets up the next song.
6: How Many Tears: Perfect. Nine whole minutes, a great song, good solos, the lyrics are great, and it’s a great choice to end a set. THIS IS GOOD. I even like the fake finish and total speedy climax thing they do halfway through the song.
This album could be good. I’d up my score by two points if it was trimmed of all banter by the lead singer, and if track four was replaced, and maybe one other track was added to make up for the difference. I don’t have the other two import EPs, so maybe that’s what they did. But otherwise, this is just awful. This should serve as an example to all other bands who put out a live album that we really don’t care what is on your singer’s mind. Just play your damn songs. I’m sorry this is such a low review, and for some reason, I still listen to this a lot. But it’s also trained me how to operate the fast-forward on my iPod, so keep that in mind.
Rating: 5 (but the last track is like an 8)