Heavy metal stalwarts Iron Maiden have yet to receive the "royal treatment" when it comes to the anthology section of their surprisingly consistent catalog (we'll just let the two records with Bruce Dickinsin' replacement Blaze Bayley disappear into the ether), but Sony's Somewhere Back in Time: The Best of 1980-1989 provides listeners with a semi-decent set of heavy metal crib notes from the group's most popular era. Like previous compilations, the inclusion of cuts like "Run to the Hills," "Number of the Beast," "2 Minutes to Midnight," and "The Trooper" is a no-brainer, and great album tracks like "Powerslave" and "Evil That Men Do" make for a fun listen, but one has to question the validity of populating a greatest-hits collection with four tracks culled from a live performance. Love them or hate them, when it comes to live albums, 1985's Live After Death is one of the better ones out there, and there's no denying the electricity that runs through "Aces High" and "Wrathchild," but why deny first-time listeners the fine studio versions of both, especially Paul Di'Anno's "Phantom of the Opera" and "Iron Maiden?" Also, where are all of the tracks from 1983's landmark Piece of Mind album? For such a beloved metal institution, there are precious few quality retrospectives and a whole bunch of merely adequate ones, guess which camp Somewhere Back in Time falls into?
AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger