There's a keyboard part that is very reminiscent of the bagpipe bit in Long Way to the Top.
The joy of Futureal immediately wears off within the first thirty seconds of The Angel and the Gambler. Steve Harris plays a Casio keyboard stuck on a ridiculous string section patch over bland AOR riffs and it only goes downhill from there. Blaze recounts the tale of a gambler and the angel trying to save him by repeating the words, “Don’t you think I’m a savior, don’t you think I can save ya, don’t you think I can save your life?” literally 22 times. Twenty-two times. Think about that. It’s endless. The song is nearly ten minutes long and I despise every second of it. It’s ill-conceived, poorly recorded, and just a boring mess of nothingness. And to make matters worse, this was the first single from the album! As a musician, even if you really liked this song (for some unknown reason) and fought to keep it on the album, how could you, in good conscience, ever release it as a single, much less your lead-off single, the track meant to lure people into the album? It boggles my mind. Hands down, The Angel and the Gambler is the worst thing Iron Maiden has ever done. It is the musical equivalent of chronic diarrhea.
I'm listening to The Angel and the Gambler for the first time in several years right now to see if my mind's cha- and nope. Nope. Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope. It's still far and away the band's worst song.
Just... God, Steve, did you really think this song was so necessary to add to the band's discography?
To be fair, I get that he wanted to make a tribute to the rock bands that influenced him during the 70's. But the style isn't what Iron Maiden is really about. It all feels at odds with itself throughout. The production of the album also makes the song sound thin as hell too. And good lord, everyone knows about those damn lyrics.
Steve would later do some songs in the reunion era that I think work far better as (light) homages to older bands that influenced him while still keeping in spirit of what Iron Maiden is about musically, most notably the opening track off of AMOLAD. But we'll get to those songs later.
For now, there's... the monstrosity.
Oh and there's the rest of Virtual XI too, I guess. There's a few good numbers on the album, imo. Overall though it's a big drop off in quality from The X Factor and an utter embarrassment when staked up to the likes of both Bruce's Accident of Birth and the crown jewel that's coming up....
I will say, while the production is bad on both The X Factor and Virtual XI, I think it has a much more negative effect on this album than its predecessor. On Virtual XI, it really feels like I'm listening to a CD full of demo tracks, rather than the finished product of a full-fledged album from one of metal's biggest bands. It all sounds incredibly thin.
Further complicating matters is that, as others have mentioned before, Nicko really seemed like he was on auto-pilot during this period in Iron Maiden's history. So not only does the production come off as rather thin and weak-sounding, but Nicko's drumming feels pretty lifeless during a lot of this album. There's none of that signature energy that Nicko's drumming usually injects into the music.
That all plays a huge factor into why a song like The Angel and the Gambler doesn't work. It's already a song that doesn't really "fit" what makes Iron Maiden the band it is, but when you add that together with it also being roughly six minutes too long, the laziness of the lyrics' repetitions, the production being bone thin and Nicko sounding totally lifeless on the drums here, it all culminates in a disaster of a song.
The song drags on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on a- You probably already skipped most of those "on and on"s just to get to this point in the writing, didn't you? Because it's all pointless and you hate feeling like something's wasting your time, right?
That's what it's like to listen to The Angel and the Gambler. That's why it's so easily the worst song Iron Maiden ever made. There's nothing wrong whatsoever with a long song that challenges you to put in some effort yourself to listen to it. But on that rare occasion when a song comes off as being lazy as hell on practically every conceivable level and is also almost ten minutes long, it drives you bananas.
Already said a little something about this song here before, but it's time to review it for good. Oh my, where to start? Well, right off the bat, this song is a very complicated one! It's definitely the Maiden song I took more time to digest. There was a time, as I said in my previous comment, when I considered this to be Maiden at their worst. It's a good thing that I don't anymore. This song is not a masterpiece, in any way, shape or form. But that's not to classify it as a bad song either. It's actually a very strong song, for that matter! Yes, the chorus, repetitive for itself, is repeated a little too much (22 times is really something). But I have come to learn to ignore that issue and enjoy this song for what it is, and once I did, I realised: it's very, very good. Not as good as "Futureal", and an awful choice for a lead single, but a very strong follow up. This gets a 7.I have just registered here 10 days ago, but I had been reading some stuff from here way before that. This thread was one I read in its entirety just last month, and I must thank most of you who commented positively on this song here (especially SinisterMinisterX).
Just until last month, I couldn't stand listening to this song. It wasn't just because of the 22-time repeating chorus, it was the whole thing: it sounded weird and so non-Maiden to my ears. However, I was doing some research on Maiden a few weeks ago and I came across this very thread. I read it. I laughed at it. "How can anyone enjoy this monstrosity?", I thought.
Then, I gave this song another shot.
Before I knew it, I was listening to it on repeat.
It's catchy. It tells a pretty cool story. It sounds so awesome.
So, yes, if it wasn't for you guys I wouldn't be able to appreciate it as I do now. It has really grown on me, and while it may no be the best Maiden song ever ("Rime of the Ancient Mariner" will always hold that title for me), it is a great song on its own.
Thank you again.
He wrote the song by himself, he has every right to dictate that kind of thing in this case. It should sound like he wanted it to sound.I doubt Steve is dictating things down to the level of "thou shalt tap these notes rather than pick them", but who knows. Maybe he is that much of a control freak.
I doubt Steve is dictating things down to the level of "thou shalt tap these notes rather than pick them", but who knows. Maybe he is that much of a control freak.
Songwriting credits are for melody, lyrics, and structure, not for arrangement and performance. For example, Steve doesn't write the guitar solos for songs where he has sole writing credit. It's not a given that he dictated the specifics of how that part was played beyond the melody, but it's certainly possible.He wrote the song by himself, he has every right to dictate that kind of thing in this case. It should sound like he wanted it to sound.