Part 1 of my series of Iron Maiden reviews!
IRON MAIDEN – The Soundhouse Tapes (1979)
I do not own this EP in its original form, unfortunately. I probably never will — there were only 5000 made, independently. Maiden were one of the first metal bands to release an indi EP, and among the most successful. For now I’ll have to be content with the CD bootleg that I have, which is called The Soundhouse Tapes and More. It’s a physical format, at least. I think Trevor snagged this one for me, at his store.
The Soundhouse Tapes was Maiden’s first official release, a 3 song limited edition. Guitarist Tony Parsons had just left the band and Maiden did the EP as a four piece: Founder Steve Harris (bass), longtime guitarist Dave Murray, Paul Di’Anno on vocals and drummer Doug Sampson.
It sounds essentially like a well recorded demo. The songs lack the energy, speed and fire of their live counterparts, but they are flawless blueprints. “Prowler” is present with all its components intact, but without the cocky breakneck pace. It sounds like Maiden were warming up, and perhaps in a sense they were!
- “Iron Maiden”
“Iron Maiden” and “Prowler” made the first album, and I probably don’t need to tell you how awesome these songs are. These versions are inferior, but having said that, they still smoke most of the NWOBHM releases of the time. “Invasion”, a somewhat lesser song, was destined to become a B-side later on. Steve would revive the subject matter (the Norman conquest of England) and some of the lyrics later on too….
A fourth song, an embrionic “Strange World” with prototypical solos, was recorded but left unreleased for the next 17 years. It finally came out on 1996’s Best Of The Beast. As an added bonus to vinyl collectors, Best Of The Best contained a reissue of the entire Soundhouse Tapes, but only if you bought vinyl. Which I had the opportunity to do, but not the balls to spend that much in one place, and I blew it. This remains the EP’s only official reissue, and will remain so for the forseeable future.