Pretty Maids – A Blast From the Past

The annals of unlikely rock ‘n roll box sets include the 21-disc Smithereens Mega Box and “Weird Al” Yankovic’s 15-disc Squeeze Box. There’s also The Complete Archies Albums Collection. But nothing seems as unlikely as Pretty Maids showing up with an extensive album collection that proudly captures their run from 1995 to 2016. Even weirder, that doesn’t even cover the Pretty Maids’ most commercial period – when the melodic Danish metalheads briefly got pushed alongside Danger Danger and Prong as part of a global metal revival quickly wiped out by Seattle.

But most of those impressive albums from their ’83 to ’93 run can be found pretty cheap. Things got a lot pricier for Pretty Maids fans trying to catch up on the band’s later years. Fortunately, A Blast From the Past starts with their final major label bid on 1995’s long out-of-print Scream. That was around the time that the struggling band became a vehicle for frontman Ronnie Atkins and guitarist Ken Hammer, although some new members would wisely settle in for over a decade of spirited glam-metal unfettered by commercial concerns.

By the time of 1997’s Spooked, Pretty Maids had a better handle on melodic hard rock than veterans like Redd Kross or aspiring AOR acts like Foo Fighters. Anything Worth Doing is Worth Overdoing then closed out the ‘90s with Pretty Maids easily outclassing fellow oldies acts including Van Halen and Def Leppard.

Pretty Maids would then maintain and sustain through the new century for seven more albums. That doesn’t match the output of They Might Be Giants, but Pretty Maids are just as consistent in a genre where their work is desperately needed. You can skip the occasional They Might Be Giants album. Records like Pretty Maids’ Pandemonium and Kingmaker were a lot more vital in, respectively, 2010 and 2016.

UFO didn’t release any albums those years. Iron Maiden did, but their later output hasn’t been matching Pretty Maids’ stellar recent efforts. Every album in this box set is worth owning, and the $83.99 list price isn’t bad if you consider what collectors have paid for just one of these records in the past.

The box isn’t burdened with dopey extras, either. Bonus tracks pop up irregularly, but you’re also not paying for some dopey reproductions of a Pretty Maids ticket from 2003, or some concert DVD that you’ll never bother playing. Instead, you get the fine Screamin’ Live from 1995 featuring early classics, plus 2002’s Alive at Least.

And there’s one last punchline with this collection carefully presenting each album in its own jewel box. That’s in an age where Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen get their lives’ work tossed into skimpy cardboard sleeves to make up a career overview. The respectful packaging also means that you’ll be storing A Blast from the Past next to the LPs and your other 12×12 box sets – including those two Dean Martin Reprise Years boxes from the Bear Family label in Germany. We’re lucky to have those, too, but Bear Family still insisted on cramming plenty of albums into just four jewel boxes.

Pretty Maids
A Blast from the Past