This is hard... Cos they do change a bit depending on my mood... And I've never been much of a Number of the Beast fan. Great album yes... I love it... But, I love the others so much more... I think right now I'd pick:
1. Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. It opens with the epic Moonchild. Slows things down a bit with Infinite Dreams, but that song is amazing. Then you get back up with Can I Play With Madness one of Maidens all time best tracks. And then we go to my All Time personal Fav, The Evil That Men Do. Just an amazing song, and that guitar solo... That is how guitar solos should be. They don't need to be blazing fast, but they should emote, and they should have passion. And of course fit the song. Just a perfect solo that shows what a master Adrian is. Not the best, not the fastest, but he plays with such emotion and truly sounds unique.
Then this is where the album does start to suffer a bit. The title track is a bit bloated, but still a good song. And while the prophecy is my 2nd least favorite song on the album. Its still good filler and would be a good song on many other bands albums, just not a good song for maiden. Then things pick up again with the superb clairvoyant... Which truth be told I use to think was a ho hum song when I was younger, but its really really good nad not boring at all. I was just too hyper in my youth to appreciate this song. And then the album ends on a weak note with only the good die young. Not a horrible song, just boring and bad for maiden. But, I do like how it ends where Moonchild begins... The whole album is a concept album and you have to applaud that. But, that doesn't make it great. What makes this album great is it has 3 all time amazing songs on it, and the little filler(I hate calling it that) is still strong and appealing.
2. Piece of Mind
The only real criticism I have of this album is a lot of the songs I thought were amazing and smart when I was in jr high and high school, I find a bit puerile today. But, lets go track by track. The album opens strong, where eagles dare is a classic. Great intro, great song, great theme, and a decent clint eastwood movie. A small factoid this movie is has actually the highest body count of on screen kills in any clint eastwood movie. Not his best, but its worth a watch.. Then the next song is quite possibly my 2nd favorite Maiden song ever. Revelations. Just a great song and I wish they played it live more. But, I've heard it live at least once... Maybe twice... Then next up is Flight of Icarus. Great song, and I always loved greek myths. So I really always liked this song. Now the next song is Die with your Boots on. I LOVED THIS SONG! When I was young... Now its a great fast and fun and powerful song. But, its a bit... Dumb... For Maiden I mean. I get it, its making fun of doomsday prophets and I like that. But, the whole chorus is just a bit puerile, but it sounds amazing. Sadly this song is not based on Errol Flynns fun movie. But, you should watch it anyway. Its a good bit of silver screen. Next song is the Trooper, which is one of Maiden's all time great songs. Then is Still LIfe, which is where the Piece of Mind for the album title comes from. I use to love this song too. But, now its a bit silly and campy... But, still fits the horror movie motif that Maiden leans heavily on. A bit silly, but when I was younger I LOVED IT. Still rocks out though. Quest for First was always campy fun. But, the song just has a nice tempo and moves along. And is just fun that I forgive it. Feels a bit like a Robert E Howard story. Sun and Steel is a really good song, its about Samaria and living the warrior code. Solid song. Then we come to the last song on the album and this is really the only one I don't like. I know some people love this song. I'm not one of them. Which is funny, because its about my all time favorite book DUNE. The song just doesn't flow to me, and to much of it seems forced. Just filler. And I seldom listen to it. But, I do sometimes and it never has grown on me. A
3: Powerslave. Starts off strong with Aces High, then kicks it into even higher gear(didn't think that was possible) with another all time great song 2 Minutes to Midnight. Which is probably like my 3rd favorite Maiden song. Loser words is an instrumental, but provides a nice break and chance to cool down, while still keeping the engines warm. My biggest criticism for this album lies within the next two songs. Flash of the Blade and the Duelist... Similar sounding and themed songs. At least that's how I always felt about them. Good songs though. Back in the Village is just a nice song. Then we go to the title track and its a nice epic. Then we end things with maybe my 4th favorite Maiden song ever. Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner. And I think the guitar solo once it kicks in... Ohhh man. I love that so much. One of my all time favorite solos. Gives me chills, cos it rocks so hard. And Mariner is a song that sometimes I think, Ive heard this a thousand times, I'm bored with this song... And then I hear it again, and it rocks me to my soul. And I realize I can never get bored of that EPIC EPIC SONG!
And I know you asked for 3 albums.
But, I'd put Somewhere in time at 4, because I just love the whole sonic sound of the album. And not one bad song on it.
Then at number 5 I will put Dance of Death. Paschendale, Rainmaker, Title track, and Monsignor are epic, epic songs, along with Journeyman.
So that's my list. But, really you can't go wrong with Dickinson and Maiden albums.
Only one to steer clear of is the X factor.