dennis stratton

REVIEW: Lionheart – Hot Tonight (1984)

LIONHEART – Hot Tonight (1984 CBS, 2008 Kreshendo reissue)

Are you fan of Iron Maiden?  The early stuff, circa their first LP?  If so, read on — but don’t get your hopes up.

If you’re a long-time reader, you may remember Lionheart from Record Store Tale Part 133: Die For Love.  A used copy, a Japanese import, came into the store in 1996, and I stupidly passed on it.  The story went:

“$20 used, but with my discount more like $15.  Still, I ended up passing on it.  I only really liked the one song, and I had other stuff to buy that week including the new Scorpions and King’s X.  So, I made a judgement call and threw it on the shelves.  I put a sticker on it that said “Dennis Stratton ex-Iron Maiden” and it sold in a couple weeks.

What I forgot to mention in that Record Store Tale was that some customer who claimed to be a “huge Iron Maiden fan”, who had “all the albums” didn’t know who Dennis Stratton was.  He saw the sticker on the disc and claimed we had it wrong.  Little did he know, he was shopping in the store managed by LeBrain.  And LeBrain was not wrong.

Yes, Dennis Stratton was in Iron Maiden for a little while.  He played on the legendary first album, and Lionheart was hyped as a “New Wave of British Heavy Metal” supergroup because the guy that was in Def Leppard before Rick Allen (Frank Noon) was also in Lionheart for a little while.  There were stupid amounts of lineup changes before and after the album, which also featured Rocky Newton who later ended up in M.S.G.  The singer was a hearthrob named Chad Brown who had a voice, though not a particularly unique one.

Their debut album release was a keyboard-inflected 80’s rock record with lots of attempts at concert-ready songwriting.  That means lots of synth.  The drums are hot, echoey samples and the keyboards are ubiquitous.  It’s all very sterile and smacks of ambitions unachieved.  There are attempts at Queen-like harmony vocals, but underwhelming attempts.  They were clearly trying to write songs with epic qualities that would impress the musically inclined.  The opening track “Wait for the Night” has shades of Phenomenon (particularly a song called “Kiss of Fire”), another “metal” supergroup from around the same time.  Phenomenon however had Glenn Hughes singing.  Chad Brown can sing, but his voice doesn’t have enough character.  He sounds exactly like a guy singing in a Foreigner tribute band, or perhaps Coverdale-Lite.

The best song is, by far, the single “Die For Love”.   The music video is legendary cheese.  I love videos where bands have to embark on some kind of adventure.  Remember when Queensryche had to defeat the Queen of the Reich?  Or Grim Reaper vs. a man-beast in “Fear No Evil”?  (For more on this subject, check out Record Store Tales Part 206: Rock Video Night.)  Lionheart had something like this for their “Die For Love” clip.  I know if I ever need somebody to rescue a damsel in distress from a weird creepy doctor, I’m picking the rescue team with no shirts under their jumpsuits!  Look at Dennis fucking Stratton!  He takes a dude out with a kick, while riffing on his guitar.  Talk about multi-tasking; where do you see this kind of skill set today?

Unintentionally funny video aside, “Die For Love” wins as a song.  With an unforgettable chorus, backed with a memorable riff and great performance, the track gets full marks.   Just like a stopped clock must be right twice a day, everything clicked on “Die For Love”.   For most people, it won’t make buying the album worthwhile.  Given my history with the song, and then letting the Japanese import slip through my fingers in ’96, I don’t regret buying this album for one song.

Even the title track, the decent and hard rocking “Hot Tonight” doesn’t save the album.  Ultimately, when you put the album away and try to recall how the songs went, they have completely evaporated.  Only “Die For Love” and parts of “Hot Tonight” and “Nightmare” still linger in my memory banks.  No focus.  Everything on this disc has been done by someone else, only better.  Whether it be Styx, Night Ranger, Whitesnake or any of the other bands that Lionheart sometimes sounds like, it’s all been done.

2/5 stars

Advertisements

REVIEW: Iron Maiden – The Essential (2005)

Part 38 of my series of Iron Maiden reviews!

SAM_1658

IRON MAIDEN – The Essential (2005)

…And the era of Maiden compilations had begun.  And I did buy them all.

The Essential is a series.  I have The Essential Johnny Cash as well as others.   So, this one was not put together by the band.  There’s no Eddie on the cover, no exclusive content, no liner notes from Rod Smallwood nor Steve Harris.  Instead there are liner notes from Lonn M. Friend of RIP Magazine.  They’re aimed at newbies, but at least all songs get full musician and writing credits.

Much like 1996’s Best of the Beast, the tracks are reverse-chronological.  This time, it works better than on Best of the Beast.  The cool thing is that this means you start with the incredible epic “Passchendale” from Dance of Death.  What an opening.  Every album (studio and live) is visited, including four Blaze Bayley tracks.

Everybody bitches about what tracks should have been left off, and which should have been included.  Here’s mine:

1. I would have included no Blaze tracks, and instead included live versions of Bruce singing them.

2. Those are the only times I would have included live tracks.

3. I could do without “Holy Smoke” and “Bring Your Daughter”.  Give me “Tailgunner” instead.

4. Give me “Stranger In A Strange Land” instead of “Heaven Can Wait”.

But that’s about it.  You get a healthy mix of hits along with great album cuts such as “Wrathchild”, “Killers”, and glory be, “Phantom of the Opera”!  Those, plus “Passchendale”, make this a passable greatest hits disc.

Tracklist is below, but only you can decide if this one’s worth buying.  I bought it for “the collection”.  As far as a complete career-spanning set goes, this is about as close as it got without having to buy multiple sets.  However it’s now out of print, so the point is moot.

3/5 stars

Disc: 1
1. Paschendale
2. Rainmaker
3. The Wicker Man
4. Brave New World
5. Futureal
6. The Clansman
7. Sign Of The Cross
8. Man On The Edge
9. Be Quick Or Be Dead
10. Fear Of The Dark
11. Holy Smoke
12. Bring Your Daughter..To The Slaughter
13. The Clairvoyant
Disc: 2
1. The Evil That Men Do
2. Wasted Years
3. Heaven Can Wait
4. 2 Minutes To Midnight
5. Aces High
6. Flight Of Icarus
7. The Trooper
8. The Number Of The Beast
9. Run To The Hills
10. Wrathchild
11. Killers
12. Phantom Of The Opera
13. Running Free (Live)
14. Iron Maiden (Live)

REVIEW: Iron Maiden – “The Number of the Beast” (2005 single) / The Early Days (DVD)

Part 34 of my series of Iron Maiden reviews!

SAM_1613

IRON MAIDEN – “The Number of the Beast” (2005 CD/vinyl single)

I’ve decided, much like my idol Martin Popoff, to stick pretty much to audio releases when it comes to this series of Maiden reviews.  To get into video just opens a big can of worms that I don’t think I can handle.  However worth mentioning is the excellent Maiden DVD The Early Days.

SAM_1611A two-disc set, The Early Days combines an excellent documentary with lots of rare early Maiden footage featuring Di’Anno and Dickinson.  Live At The Rainbow, Beast Over Hammersmith (audio available on Eddie’s Archive), Live In Dortmund, and Live at the Ruskin Arms are all a part of this, as well as some videos and Top of the Pops performances.  The documentary chronicles the early days and features interviews with ex members Paul Di’Anno, Clive Burr, Dennis Stratton, Dave Sullivan, Terry Rance, Doug Sampson, Ron “Rebel” Matthews, Terry Wapram and Bob Sawyer.  There are very few members missing from this documentary; most notably singers Paul Day and Den Wilcock, and drummer Thunderstick.

The following year, Maiden re-released “The Number of the Beast” as a CD single, with an advertisement promoting The Early Days on the back.   Therefore I’ve decided to consider this single as promotional to The Early Days, which also contains the video for “Beast”.

The tracklisting is as follows:

  1. “The Number of the Beast” (original version)
  2. “The Number of the Beast” (live at Brixton ’02)
  3. “Hallowed Be That Name” (live at Brixton ’02)

plus videos:

  1. “The Number of the Beast” (Camp Chaos version — essentially has added animations)
  2. “The Number of the Beast” (live at Brixton ’02)

I also have a red vinyl 7″ single with a lovely poster.  This one just contains the two versions of “Beast”.

These live tracks being ’02, they featuring the six-man lineup of Steve Harris, Bruce Dickinson, Dave Murray, Janick Gers, Adrian Smith, and Nicko McBrain.

So what can I say as far as an actual review goes?  Well, it’s Maiden live in ’02, two of their all time best tracks.  “Hallowed” in particular smokes with fiery solos by Dave and Janick.  Janick simply burns up the fretboard with the kind of speedy fingerwork that the fans love him for.  Bruce is in top voice.

As a nice little extra bonus single for the fans, I have no complaints.

5/5 stars

REVIEW: Iron Maiden – Eddie’s Archive (2002)

Part 30 of my series of Iron Maiden reviews!

IRON MAIDEN – Eddie’s Archive (2002, limited edition)

Eddie’s Archive was released simultaneously with another (!) greatest hits compilation called Edward The Great.  We’ll talk about that one next.  This is the real meat of it all!

This box set defines limited edition. I’m not sure how many copies were made, but the first printing with blue inlay was sold out nearly immediately. That’s the version I have. It was soon reissued with a red inlay to differentiate it, but even it is long out of print.

Inside you will find three individually packaged jewel cases, each containing 2 CDs for a total of 6 discs. These three “double albums” (for lack of a better term) are:

BBC Archives
Beast Over Hammersmith
Best of the B’Sides

The main reason to buy this set are the first two albums, BBC Archives and Beast Over Hammersmith.  To me, the Best of the B’Sides only scratches the surface of the treasures to be found on the numerous Iron Maiden singles and EP’s.  And as loyal LeBrain readers know, I’ve talked about ’em all.

BBC Archives contains numerous goodies. It starts off with a rare four song session by an ealy version of Maiden featuring Doug Sampson (drums) and Tony Parsons (guitar). Listening to “Sanctuary” as an example, you can tell it’s a guitar player you’re not familiar with. This is Parsons’ only recording with Maiden, but “Sanctuary” was previously released on the very rare NWOBHM compilation that Lars Ulrich put together.  I love the pure fire and raw youth of these early recordings.  “Transylvania” feels very different from its album incarnation.  You can tell it’s a different drummer.  And of course since it is the BBC, they are expertly recorded.

From there it’s a scorching ’82 set with Dickinson at Reading. Then back to 1980 for a Di’Anno Reading set, and finally to 1988 for a Seventh Tour of a Seventh Tour (Donington) recording. All of these are pure smoke and it’s great to hear Bruce in peak voice. Unfortunately, on this album alone, you will hear “Iron Maiden” four times!  It is what it is.  You wouldn’t want them to leave any tracks out, would you?

Next disc has the ’82 Hammersmith show. A couple tracks from these were issued as B-sides on the “Run To The Hills” single from Rock In Rio. Anyway, like the BBC discs, this is pure smoke. It is a pleasure to finally have a full concert with Clive Burr on drums and Bruce in top form. Of course you will hear “Iron Maiden” and numerous others again. With a box set of this nature it’s inevitable. If you’re a Maiden fan, you don’t care.  Do you?

Finally, the B’Sides.  Everything here has been made available before on singles.  There is nothing truly “unreleased” here as far as Maiden goes. There’s also nothing that is previously unreleased on CD unfortunately, like Maiden Japan or “I Live My Way” from the “Man On The Edge” 12″ single. For me, these discs are more just a “best of”. There are some cool tracks here such as the Montrose cover “I’ve Got The Fire”. (Maiden chose Dickinson’s version rather than Di’Anno’s, which is fine.) Other highlights include the pop metal goodness of “That Girl” and “Reach Out”, as well as originals such as “Burning Ambition” and “Invasion”. The covers that Maiden selects are mostly obscure enough (Nektar? Marshall Fury?) that they may as well be originals.

Then you get some of Maiden’s little-known jokey material: “Sheriff of Huddersfield” for example. I’m not sure how well it works as an overall listen. I prefer the singles in their original context, personally. As I mentioned, this is far from a complete set, and you can argue all you like for what you would have included. Certainly you can make solid arguments in favour of the Thin Lizzy cover “Massacre” or the rare “I Live My Way”.

Each CD jewel case features its own extensive booklet with photos, Derek Riggs cover art, and liner notes, with the exception of Beast Over Hammersmith. That one contains a booklet which is a reproduction of the original tour programme! Works for me! Otherwise, there is no book for the box set itself.

What you do get includes a neat scroll with the Iron Maiden family tree on it, wrapped inside a metal ring. (I’m sure this family tree is loaded with errors like the previous one included inside A Real Dead One, I’ve never bothered to check.) You also get this cool shot glass with Eddie’s face in the bottom. A cool treat. The box itself is a shiny tin masterpiece. It snaps shut securely and it is very detailed and cool looking.

What are you willing to pay for this set? That’s entirely up to you, but if you don’t have it, expect to pay through the teeth. Personally, to me it’s all about the music. Decide how much you’re willing to pay for approximately four discs of previously unreleased Maiden and purchase accordingly.

For me? 4/5 stars!

REVIEW: Iron Maiden – Best of the Beast (1996 2 CD edition)

Part 22 of my series of Iron Maiden reviews!

IRON MAIDEN – Best of the Beast (1996)

I’m not sure what prompted Iron Maiden to put out their first greatest hits disc in 1996, but at least they did it in style.  Originally available as a limited edition 2 CD book set, it was pretty extravagant packaging for the time.   My only beef is by the nature of such packaging, the paper sleeves will always scratch your discs, 100% of the time.

This album was also available in a standard edition single disc, with the songs in a different running order.  I don’t have that one so I’m not going to talk aboot it.

The 2 disc version, perhaps to emphasize that Blaze Bayley is the current Maiden vocalist, starts at the present and then rewinds all the way back to the beginning, closing with The Soundhouse Tapes!  An interesting approach indeed.  As a listening experience I’m not sure that it works that well.

Since we’re starting at the present, the album kicks off with a new song.  “Virus” is 6:30 of same-old same-old X Factor Maiden, but not as good as anything on that album.   It drags and drags for three minutes before finally kicking into gear, but it is otherwise repetitive and boring until then.  Lyrically, it is another attack on the sicknesses in society, much like “Be Quick Or Be Dead” and “Justice of the Peace” were.

Then back in time one year, to “Sign of the Cross”, the dramatic 11 minute epic from The X Factor, as well as “Man on the Edge”.  (I would have preferred “Lord of the Flies” to “Man on the Edge”, but perhaps “Man” was the bigger single of the two.)

To bridge into the Fear of the Dark album, a new live version of “Afraid To Shoot Strangers” is featured, with Blaze Bayley singing.  It’s a good live version, but it’s immediately obvious that Blaze is no Bruce.

Bruce takes over on the next track, “Be Quick Or Be Dead”, and we’re back in the saddle.  Singles (including the popular live version of “Fear of the Dark”) and album tracks are counted down from 1993 to 1986’s Somewhere In Time album, ending disc 1 with “Wasted Years”, a great closer.  My beef here:  I would have preferred the single “Stranger In A Strange Land” to the album track “Heaven Can Wait” (but I know the Heavy Metal OverloRd doesn’t agree with me!)

Disc 2 is the glory years, if you will, everything from Live After Death to the beginning.  It begins with the epic “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, a ballsy move for a greatest hits album, and the live version at that.  Chasing it is the live single version of “Running Free”.  Then we count them down, all the singles from Powerslave to “Run To The Hills”, plus “Where Eagles Dare” and  “Hallowed Be Thy Name” thrown in for good measure.

Then it’s the Di’Anno years, which are given an unfortunately brief expose.  “Wrathchild”, from Killers  is one of the best songs from that era, but the only included track from that album.  Maiden’s first epic, “Phantom of the Opera” and the single “Sanctuary” represent the debut Iron Maiden.  Finally, an unreleased track from The Soundhouse Tapes sessions (“Strange World”), and the rare Soundhouse version of “Iron Maiden” close the set.  To read my review of The Soundhouse Tapes and these tracks, click here.

There was also a 4 LP vinyl edition available, with 7 extra tracks:  “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son”,  “The Prisoner”, “Killers”, “Remember Tomorrow”, an exclusive live version of “Revelations” from the Piece of Mind tour, plus the final two songs from The Soundhouse Tapes, “Prowler” and “Invasion”. You can read a story about the 4 LP edition by clicking here.

And there you have it, Maiden’s first greatest hits set, with lots of the hits and plenty of rarities thrown in for the collectors.  I confess that I don’t listen to it often, and this time for this review was the first time in roughly two years.

The cover art was once again by Derek Riggs, doing a sort of mash-up of his (and nobody else’s) Eddie’s.  It’s a suitably glorious piece of art for such a monument of metal.  The inside of the book is loaded with concert dates, lyrics, liner notes, and chart positions, as well as more Eddie’s and photos!

I still want to talk about the single, “Virus”, but I think that it should get an article of its own.  Check back soon for that!

Curiosity: the cover features an ad for the never-to-be Iron Maiden video game, Melt!  Maiden did eventually release a video game, but we’re not going there yet….

For the 2 CD edition of Best of the Beast:

4/5 stars

Part 133: Die For Love

RECORD STORE TALES PART 133:  Die For Love

1996 was my first year of managing my own store.  In the very first weeks of business, in came this little gem, Japanese import, never seen it before.

The band featured Iron Maiden’s former guitarist, Dennis Stratton.  Dennis of course played on the first immortal Maiden platter and a few B-sides too.  The album featured one great single, “Die For Love”, which had one of the cheesiest music videos of all time.  Band must rescue blonde damsel in distress from horny-looking mad scientist.

It’s actually a really cool song, very commercial but solid and I’d been hunting for it for years.  Yet another treasure that fell into my lap.  Japanese import, $20 used, but with my discount more like $15.

Still, I ended up passing on it.  I only really liked the one song, and I had other stuff to buy that week including the new Scorpions and King’s X.  So, I made a judgement call and threw it on the shelves.  I put a sticker on it that said “Dennis Stratton ex-Iron Maiden” and it sold in a couple weeks.  It was after it sold that I regretted my decision!  I didn’t realize how rare the disc was, and I underestimated how much I liked that one song!

Thankfully it’s since been reissued.  Still, wouldn’t it have been nice to have that Japanese import?  Yeah.

REVIEW: Iron Maiden – Killers (1981, 1996 bonus CD)

Part 3 in my series of Iron Maiden reviews!

IRON MAIDEN – Killers (1981, 1996 bonus CD, EMI)

After the masterful introduction that was the first Iron Maiden album, the band jettisoned guitarist Dennis Stratton to get the guy that Steve wanted years before:  Adrian Smith.  An old buddy of Dave Murray, Adrian fit like a glove and the next album was recorded.

Written entirely by Steve Harris except for one Di’Anno co-write, Killers was also produced by Martin Birch.  Birch had already helmed the biggest and best albums by Deep Purple, and was more than capable of capturing the Maiden sound in the studio, unlike former producer Will Malone.

Popular opinion is split on Killers.  Some fans see it as a significant up-shift from the previous, others see it as inferior.  Both aruments hold water.  There is no denying that the partnership with Martin Birch created a better sounding album, one more consistent with the band’s live intensity.  The addition of Smith on guitar meant that you’re hearing a more unified sound, two guitar players in great sync with each other.  The songs are also harder and more intricate, with even more sections and changes.

While Killers is a good album in those respects, the songs were not as memorable this time out.  There are two scorchers on this record that are among my all-time Maiden favourites:  “Wrathchild” and “Killers” itself.  Then you have some second tier goodies like “Murders In The Rue Morgue”, “Innocent Exile”, and “Drifter”.  Beyond that, there’s little else here that would make my Maiden road tape.  I don’t know why, but time after time, listen after listen, year after year, the rest stubbornly refuses to grow on me.

Killers contains one ballad (“Prodigal Son”, which is almost like Iron Zeppelin) and two instrumentals (“The Ides of March” and “Genghis Khan”).  Oddly enough, one of those instrumentals, “The Ides of March” is identical to a song by rival NWOBHM band Samson, called “Thunderburst”.  The song was originally an Iron Maiden idea; Samson’s drummer Thunderstick was very briefly in Iron Maiden during the late 1970’s.  Samson’s singer was some guy called Bruce Bruce, known to his mum as Bruce Dickinson.

This picture disc edition of Killers came with a bonus CD containing all the associated non-album songs.  “Twilight Zone”, included here, is actually an A-side of a non-album single.  The US version of Killers had “Twilight Zone” on the album.  Its selection as a single ahead of something like “Wrathchild” seems strange with hindsight.  I never really liked the song that much, aside from Di’Anno’s screamy chorus.  This one was a Dave Murray co-write as well.

Another non-album single, the infamous “Women In Uniform” is also included.  This is the one that the band hated, a cover from a German band called Skyhooks.  I liked it because of my early association with the cheesey music video.  I wouldn’t call it a standout track, but I like it better than “Twilight Zone”.  This single acually pre-dated Killers, and Dennis Stratton is still on guitar.  Its two B-sides, “Invasion” and “Phantom Of The Opera (Live)” are both included.  “Invasion” is an improved remake of the song from the first EP, The Soundhouse Tapes.  It’s still not up to the standard of anything on album #1, but it’s still an entertaining tale of the Norsemen comin’, “raping and pillaging, robbin’ and lootin’ the land.”  An early Maiden history lesson from Steve Harris.

I’ll have to say something about Derek Rigg’s artwork as well:  Now we know what Eddie was up in that back alley on the last album!  No good, clearly, as he’s weilding a bloody hatchet, as a man’s hands can be seen grasping his shirt.  Behind Eddie, you can see a “kinky sex shop” and the Ruskin Arms, where many legendary Maiden gigs went down.  Is that Charlotte in the red window?

Rating Killers is very difficult.  It’s still better than most band’s best albums, yet it’s one of my least favourite.  Trying to be objective here, I will rate Killers:

3.5/5 stars

Also pictured below:  A bootleg CD from the tour called Another Live.

REVIEW: Iron Maiden – Iron Maiden (1980, 1996 bonus CD)

Part 2 in my series of Iron Maiden reviews!

IRON MAIDEN: Iron Maiden (1980, 1996 bonus CD, EMI)

Straight out of the gates, Maiden galloped onto the international scene, with their own sound and a debut album as strong as anybody’s.  An incredible album in fact, Iron Maiden had the benefit of containing songs that Steve Harris had been playing for years, in various incarnations of the band.  They were road tested and taut as muscle.

The cover by Derek Riggs depicts a prototypical, haunting version of Eddie.  But there he is still, roaring under the streetlight of some London back alley, probably up to no good.  This cover was re-painted for the 1998 remastered edition, but I think an original is always best.

Revised 1998 artwork

Although Harris despised punk rock, Iron Maiden is punk-like in its delivery.  While plowing through intricate riffs and time changes, they do so with the intensity of their punk rivals, feeling like they’re about to fly off the rails.  But they never do; Maiden were absolute pros even then.

Producer Will Malone did not capture the full-on Maiden sound, sonically.  It is however a step up from their EP, The Soundhouse Tapes.  Maiden would not find their studio sound until hooking up with Deep Purple/Rainbow producer Martin Birch, next album.

Every song is brilliant.  The opening wah-wah guitar intensity of “Prowler” warns away the timid, before the song trounces forward, propelled by Steve Harris and new drummer Clive Burr.  Paul Di’Anno is absolutely at his peak as a singer, with range, grit, and power to spare.  He throws it all into “Prowler”.

“Remember Tomorrow”, co-written by Paul, is a slow-burner, along the lines of those old slow Black Sabbath songs.  Paul sings his ass off, and if any one song was his showcase, I would say it has to be “Remember Tomorrow”.

The tempo picks up again with the first single “Running Free”, a song that I feel never peaked until released in a live verion.  Live, it’s faster and more intense.  In the studio, it feels like it never quite gets up to speed.  However, a classic song it remains, with Maiden’s first undeniable sing-along chorus.

7 minutes of “Phantom Of The Opera” closes side one of the original vinyl.  Steve’s first multi-part epic, this is the song that proved too difficult for many guitarists auditioning for the band.  Long time axeman Dave Murray could handle the material no problem.  Finding a second player proved difficult, until Dennis Stratton showed up and fit the bill.  “Phantom” proved to be his undoing nevertheless.  While the rest of the band were out, he overdubbed Queen-like choir vocals and guitar harmonies, which horrified Harris.  It wasn’t so much that Stratton had initiative and ideas to present, it was that they were so far off what what Steve’s vision of Maiden was.  Stratton proved to be the wrong fit, and this remains his only album with Iron Maiden.

Side two began with the instrumental stomper “Transylvania”.  This fades into a spacey ballad, “Strange World”.  “Strange World” is one of the most immediate songs on the album, perhaps because it’s different from the rest.  If I had to compare it to something else, it might be “Solitude” by Black Sabbath, but with guitars instead of flutes!  And solos too…Dave’s epic side of solo composition.

Dave’s first ever writing credit is up next, “Charlotte The Harlot”.  This fast one introduces the character of Charlotte, who turns up again in future Maiden songs.  This standout song is followed by the band’s signature closer, “Iron Maiden” itself.  I think it’s likely that this song will remain in Maiden’s sets pretty much forever.  Not only is the riff great, but the pace is absolutely perfect for headbanging!

The bonus CD comes with the associated B-sides for this album.  From the “Running Free” single, there’s “Burning Ambition”.  This is an early song that wouldn’t have fit on the album, as it is too much hard rock and not enough heavy metal for the album proper.  The bonus CD also contains the non-album single “Sanctuary”, another classic up there with “Iron Maiden”.  This song was slipped onto the US versions of the album.  It’s awesome of course!  Also from the “Sanctuary” single are live versions of “Drifter” and “I’ve Got The Fire”.  “Drifter” was another earlier song that would show up in studio form next album.  This version has Di’Anno’s reggae-ish “Yo, yo yo yo” singalong which I have always liked.  “I’ve Got The Fire” is an excellent Montrose cover, and not the last time Maiden would cover Montrose (nor this song)!

With an album this this under their belts, the future for Iron Maiden would be bright indeed.

5/5 stars