Reviewed: July, 2020
Released: 2020, Frontiers
Although it is certainly not a contest, I’m probably the biggest Pretty Maids fan on staff here at Metal-Rules.com. So when the band released their fourth live album, for me it was a no-brainer to review.
When I reviewed the bands last studio album (early in 2020) these were still early days in the news cycle about vocalists, Ronnie Atkins cancer diagnosis and prognosis. I concluded my review of UNDRESS YOUR MADNESS by saying, if that album is the last thing they ever do, the band can be proud they went out on a high-note. Imagine my surprise when not much later the band announced they had an entire live album in the vault, slated for release a mere five months later! Not only was the bands fourth live album on deck it is a cool album with a theme. The band played their iconic and arguably most popular album, (FUTURE WORLD, 1987) in it’s entirety in Japan for the 30th anniversary. That means they have had this album in the vaults for at least two years. So the cynic in me thinks, maybe this is a stop-gap release while Ronnie is in recovery or maybe even the dreaded contractual obligation’ record. Either way, it is good news for me as a fan compounded by the fact that the most recent news on Atkins cancer is very positive. The band will likely continue on!
MAID IN JAPAN, a very clever and classic live album title if there ever was one, that old-school Metal fans will kick a kick out of, is a straight up single disc album. There actually is a bonus DVD, but oddly enough it is not the concert (which is also another clue that maybe it wasn’t filmed or ever intended for release as a live album) but the DVD has a ton of videos, which is cool. 11 videos from the Frontiers era to be exact. It also sports a nice eye-catching album cover with a white motif and the classic logo.
As you might have guessed from the sub-title the band play FUTURE WORLD and add five other tracks, mostly recent stuff, making this a 15 cut, 74-minute album. What I appreciate is that, aside from the obvious exceptions of the Future world songs, there is very little crossover from the other live album. It is the second time the band has recorded a live album in Japan, which is a bit of a stronghold for the band. The album just starts off the top and plays the album in the album sequence with lots and lots of audience participation. What struck me is how well the songs hold up even 30 years later. In the live environment they have a bit more kick to them as well.
Pretty Maids have always achieved that nice balance of being a heritage band with a classic and loved 80’s album and being contemporary with lots of current records which are just as good or better than their 80’s material. MAID IN JAPAN captures this duality very nicely in the live environment.