In the mid-80s, Iron Maiden released "Live After Death", widely regarded as not only one of the best live albums ever recorded by any band, but also one of the best rock albums ever. It captured the band at the height of their powers, and still sounds fresh and exciting when listened to today.
These two albums, however, were recorded in the early 90s. Bruce Dickinson had anounced his intention to leave the band at the end of the tour on which these recordings were made, and the future of Maiden was uncertain. And it shows... The band simply aren't at their best on these recordings - at times they sound like a bunch of individual musicians who happen to be sharing a stage. The energy that was evident on "Live After Death" is notably absent, and even the standard of musicianship has taken a noticeable dive.
This is then compounded by the sound quality. Mixed by Steve Harris, the bass guitar seems to overwhelm everything, and the vocals get completely lost in the mix - it is as if Harris was trying to remove Dickinson from the recordings to reflect the fact that he was no longer in the band.
Finally, there is the track selection. "A Real Dead One" offers inferior versions of 7 tracks that were on "Live After Death", and none of the others are particularly vital. "A Real Live One" offers 6 tracks from "No Prayer..." and "Fear Of The Dark", generally regarded as the poorest albums Maiden recorded. There are some good selections from "Seventh Son...", and a single track from the underrated "Somewhere In Time", but the poor sound quality spoils them.
There is very little doubt that these two albums represent the lowest point in Maiden's career. Buy "Live After Death" or "Rock In Rio" instead - this set is only for completists.