seventh son of a seventh son

VHS Archives #75: The craziest Iron Maiden interview you’ll ever see (1988)

Bruce Dickinson is extra naughty and caffeinated here with bandmate Dave Murray and Power Hour host Erica Ehm!

Seventh Son of a Seventh Son was brand new and the music video hadn’t even come out yet.  Bruce and Dave discuss:

  • The concept
  • The video
  • Lucifer
  • Whether Deep Purple are good football players or not
  • Recording
  • Bruce’s forthcoming book The Adventures of Lord Iffy Boatrace
  • Going folk?

This hilarious interview is a must-watch for Maiden fans worldwide.

REVIEW: Iron Maiden – Maiden England ’88 (2013 CD reissue)

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MAIDEN ENGLAND FRONT

IRON MAIDEN – Maiden England ’88 (2013 CD reissue)

It only took 25 years, but Iron Maiden have finally released a complete 2 CD edition of their legendary Maiden England recording.  A video was released in 1989, and a truncated CD version in 1994.  These were great, but less than 100% satisfying.

The first thing you notice is the striking cover art.  This is by somebody named Hervé Monjeaud.  It resembles Derek Riggs’ Eddies enough to fit in fairly seemlessly with the 1988 era.  I wish they used the original motorcycle cover art by Derek Riggs, but at least they credit him inside as the original artist.

Also checking the credits, I was pleased to find that the audio was not remixed.  This is the same mix that Martin Birch produced at the time.  The three unreleased songs are freshly mixed by Kevin Shirley, but there’s no tampering.  This is the authentic Maiden England.

Last year when I reviewed every Maiden release in a row, I discussed Maiden England.  Please check that review out if you’re looking for a more comprehensive review of the songs and content. Back then, I gave it 4/5 stars.  I found the sound a tad muddy, I complained about the brief running time, and I didn’t like that the CD did not include every song from the VHS version.  The missing songs were “Hallowed Be Thy Name” and “Can I Play With Madness”.  This edition restores them to the running order, and even adds three more songs that were cut completely from the original release!  So right there, two of my beefs have been addressed.

What about the sound?  Bloody great!  Whatever it was about the first CD release, the flatness of it, is gone.  It’s like when you take your car to the wash, how it shines.  Maiden England ’88 sounds so much better than the original CD.  And of course there’s a nice substantial booklet with photos and lyrics.  No notes from Steve or anybody else, disappointingly.  I always like those “producer’s notes” or what have you.  But that’s window dressing, this is really such a pleasure to listen to, I assure you.  As I wrote these words, Dave Murray was wheedly-wheedly-ing in my ears.  And I liked it.

With the added material and fresh sound, Maiden England ’88 takes its place alongside other Maiden classics such as Live at Donington or Rock In Rio.  Of course it cannot usurp Live After Death, nothing ever will.  Maiden England ’88 has some really awesome Maiden material that didn’t make Live After Death, such as “Still Life”, which remains dramatic and stunning.  “Killers” and “Sanctuary” are two other songs that were not on Live After Death.  Not to mention, by 1988 Maiden had two more albums to draw from.  That means you’ll also hear “Wasted Years” and “The Clairvoyant”, songs that stand strong among the old stalwarts.

The three unreleased songs are “Run To The Hills”, “Running Free” and “Sanctuary”.  These were the encores.  They are not mixed onto the end of the show, but follow a pause and have a noticeably different sound.  It’s hard to describe how the sound differs, but you can hear a change.  I’m not sure why these weren’t included on the original VHS.  Surely not for quality reasons.  The running time of the original video was 95 minutes.  Would another 15 have bumped them into a higher, tax, uhh, you know?  (120 minute tapes were common back then too.)

There’s a DVD too, but I don’t have that yet.  One thing at a time!  Send me a copy, EMI, and I’ll be happy to review it!

5/5 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

REVIEW: Iron Maiden – No Prayer For the Dying (1990, 1996 bonus disc)

Part 13 of my series of Iron Maiden reviews!

IRON MAIDEN – No Prayer For the Dying (1990, 1996 bonus disc)

Regrouping after a six-month break, Maiden returned to writing mode a changed Beast.

The Seventh Son of a Seventh Son album was artistically rewarding but the band were eager to return to their stripped down heavy metal roots and make a live-sounding album more like Killers or The Number of the Beast, without the production values and ten minute songs that were becoming the norm.

Both Adrian Smith and Bruce Dickinson were coming off solo albums (A.S.a.P.’s Silver and Gold featuring Zak Starkey (Oasis, The Who), and Bruce’s Tattooed Millionaire).  Bruce’s was successful commercially and critically, Adrian’s less so.   Still, it came as a complete shock to the fans when it was announced that Adrian Smith had left Iron Maiden.

Or, perhaps, been nudged out.  Steve Harris was worried that Adrian was becoming unhappy, and it was especially obvious during the writing sessions for the next album.  While Steve, Dave and Bruce were contributing heavy songs, the usually prolific Adrian had nothing but a song called “Hooks In You” that he had written with Bruce.  He was clearly unhappy that Maiden were not progressing down the road pointed to by Seventh Son, and were going heavier.  Steve took him aside.

When asked how into it he was, the answer came “about 80%”.  Steve has always had a simple policy for membership in his band — you had to be into it 110%, or it wouldn’t work.  The fans wouldn’t buy it, and Steve couldn’t look them in the eye knowing somebody on stage wasn’t completely into it.  Adrian was out.

The band already knew Janick Gers, and he and Bruce had developed a successful writing partnership on his Tattooed Millionaire solo disc.  Janick was nevertheless shocked when Bruce phoned him up and asked him to learn some Iron Maiden numbers.  Janick initially said no, because he assumed Bruce was talking about his solo project, and they had already agreed to do no Maiden numbers.  When Bruce explained it wasn’t for the solo band, it was for Maiden, Janick was horrified.

Janick Gers was really the only guy I can think of that was right for Maiden, also being from the era of the NWOBHM bands (White Spirit).  He’d also been in Gillan (the incredible Magic album) and worked with Fish.  The songs for the album were already written, all Janick had to do was head over to Steve’s farm, where they were recording the album, and learn the songs.

But that’s all just background, just context.  That’s all important, especially to this album, but what is also important is the bottom line.  And the bottom line is that this is the first time Maiden turned in something that was almost universally received as a disappointment.

While some fans were clamoring for a return to basic heavy metal songs, short and bangin’ and to the point, others preferred the epic scale of Seventh Son.  And it was clear that you can’t just replace Adrian Smith.  The songs on the new album, titled No Prayer For the Dying, seemed less finished and not quite up to standard.  Not to mention Janick and Dave hadn’t had time to properly gel together, and never quite sync up on this album the way Dave did with Adrian.

The opening song “Tailgunner” is good enough though, not quite an “Aces High” but certainly adequate.  Being tailgunner might have been the worst job on the Lancaster bomber, since it didn’t have a belly gunner! (Neither did Enola Gay, tailgunner was certainly the worst job on a B-29)!  But Steve and Bruce failed to really nail it lyrically, with lines such as “nail that Fokker, kill that son, gunna blow your guts out with my gun” not living up to past Maiden historic glories.

Steve and Bruce also wrote “Holy Smoke”, the first single.  This reckless fast number showcased a manic Janick Gers solo, demonstrating how different he was from Adrian.  Where Adrian used to compose solos with beginnings, middles and endings, Janick just went for it!  Dave was also somewhere between the two approaches.  Now, without Adrian’s melodic touch, the band were moving sharply to a more live and spontaneous guitar style.

“Holy Smoke” is about TV preachers, and while they always make a good target in heavy metal songs (I prefer Ozzy’s “Miracle Man”) this one also fails to excite.  As a song it doesn’t have much in terms of melody.  On No Prayer, Bruce is shouting as often as he’s singing, and with the songs’ new emphasis on raw power, there’s less memorable melody to go around.  Janick’s manic gonzo solo does fit the vibe of the song!

The title track is third, a number that tries to be an epic in under 5 minutes.  It does indeed have all of the trademark qualities of a Maiden epic except the length:  Multiple parts, multiple tempos, soul-searching Steve lyrics, and ample anthemic guitar melody.  Yet the song fails to nail it home like, say, “Hallowed Be Thy Name” did.

Better is the badly titled “Public Enema Number One”.  This Dickinson/Murray rocker is riffy, straightforward with some decent melodic bits.  But again Bruce is hoarsely shouting the verses, and the song careens from section to section that don’t feel like they quite all fit together probably.  Like other songs on No Prayer, the song sounds slightly unfinished.

And better again is “Fates Warning”, this time written by Steve and Dave.  The opening soft guitar part is a nice change of pace, and a great example of Dave Murray’s tremendous feel.  Perhaps in a past life he was a bluesman.  Nicko then kicks the song into gear while Steve’s lyrics question the seemingly random nature of life and death.  In the middle, is an old-school dual Maiden guitar lead, before Dave nails another perfect one of his own.

Side two begins with the stuttery “The Assassin”.  Written solo by Steve, it is rhythmically complex as it is propelled forward.  It has a fairly decent chorus but it doesn’t quite resolve itself nicely.  Some of the guitar and bass melodies are reminiscent of “To Tame A Land” from Piece of Mind.

This is followed by the superior “Run Silent Run Deep”  Submarine warfare is a good topic for a Maiden song, and the song chugs forward like those big diesel engines.  This is one of the better songs on No Prayer.  Steve and Bruce wrote it together, and Nicko’s precise drum fills accent the song perfectly.

Next is the worst song on the album:  Bruce and Adrian’s “Hooks In You”.  Lyrically this is one of the worst things ever on a Maiden album. Judging by the opening line, “Got the keys to view at number 22,” it sounds like Charlotte is back to her old tricks.  Unfortunately, the band subjected people to this song live.  I’ll admit it’s got a great little riff, but Bruce’s shout-growl vocals, lack of melody, and lack of any lyrical intelligence just sinks this one.

And then the baffling #1 single, “Bring Your Daughter…to the Slaughter”.  This Bruce song is actually an outtake from his solo project.  He recorded and released the original version with Janick Gers on the soundtrack to A Nightmare on Elm Street 5.  I seem to remember that soundtrack being panned as “the worst soundtrack of all time” at one point.  Steve heard the song, went nuts, and said, “Don’t put it on your solo album:  I want to save this one for Maiden.”

Somehow, Steve was right, as it went straight to #1 in the UK, the first and only time this has happened to Iron Maiden.  I don’t get it.  I don’t get what people like about this song.

“Mother Russia” ends the album on a sour note.  Lyrically simple, musically pretty good, “Mother Russia” is certainly not up to the standards of past Maiden album closers.  Although it tries to be an epic along the lines of “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” (featuring a similar keyboard section in the middle), it’s just not as great as past epics.  At five and a half minutes, “Mother Russia” is the longest song on No Prayer.  It is made up of excellent components; I like the melody and the solos big time, but it’s just…not comparable in quality.

Nicko McBrain said on MuchMusic that No Prayer was “the best Iron Maiden yet.”  Steve said that the album’s biggest problem is that it didn’t sound live enough without an audience track.  I disagree with both.  I think the album has an abnormally high quantity of unfinished songs and filler.

Even the cover art was substandard.  To go with the live, stripped down sound, Riggs too stripped his artwork of the symbolism and fantasy.  Instead, Eddie goes for the throat of a groundskeeper as he emerges (once again) from the grave.  All hints to continuity are gone, as Eddie’s lost his lobotomy scar, cybernetic implants, and that bolt that kept his skull on!  He even has his hair back.  I guess somebody wasn’t happy with the artwork, because it was heavily tweaked for the 1998 remaster, repainting much of it and removing the groundskeeper.

The B-sides to the first single, “Holy Smoke” were the excellent “All In Your Mind” (a cover from somebody called Stray) and Golden Earring’s “Kill Me Ce Soir”.  Both songs are pretty damn good.  I prefer both to some of the album tracks!

“Bring Your Daughter” had two of its own B-sides:  “Communication Breakdown” and “I’m A Mover”.  Maiden tackle Led Zeppelin and Free less successfully than they did they other two B-sides.  “I’m A Mover” ain’t bad as it allows Maiden to get into a groove they normally wouldn’t, and Bruce seems to have fun with the vocal.

3.5/5 stars

REVIEW: Iron Maiden – Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (1988, 1996 bonus CD)

Part 11 of my series of Iron Maiden reviews!

Seven deadly sins…

Seven ways to win…

Seven holy paths to Hell and your trip begins…

IRON MAIDEN – Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (1988, 1996 bonus CD)

Maiden finally did it.  After years of denying that their albums had been concept albums, Maiden went ahead and wrote a concept album!  The circumstances were coincidental. The album was to be their seventh.  Steve Harris had already written his album epic, the title track “Seventh Son of Seventh Son”.  Meanwhile, Bruce had written down lyrics such as “Seven deadly sins, seven ways to win…”  Seizing this serendipitous moment, Maiden plunged forward with the tale of a boy born with healing powers and the ability to see the future…everyone’s but his own.

A boy born as the seventh son to a seventh son, in some folklore, was prophesied to have such powers.  But the inability to foresee his own fate was a cruel joke by none other than Lucifer himself.  In the story, the sides of good and evil battle for the soon-to-be-man’s soul, hoping to bend his powers to their will.

If Bruce was a basket case on the prior album, Somewhere In Time, he had bounced back by Seventh Son.  With no less than four writing credits out of eight songs, Bruce must have been satisfied that Maiden were incorporating acoustics, and keyboards.  It was all in the name of texture and light & shade.  Bruce had hoped that one day Maiden would make their Physical Graffiti and perhaps this is it.

I recall when it came out that there was some backlash:  Some Maiden fans did not take too kindly to the obtuse lyrics, acoustic guitars, and softer more progressive direction.  When you listen to both albums back to back, on a whole I think Seventh Son is heavier than Somewhere In Time, by a hair.  Yet compared to Powerslave or Killers, clearly this was new and different.  Some didn’t like that, while others took the time to get to know and love Seventh Son.  I can recall being perplexed by the lyrics, struggling to figure them out, and wondering if the symbols written on the lyric sheet were clues.

At the same time that Maiden were exploring new directions, so was cover artist Derek Riggs.  No longer wishing to draw Eddies with axes in people’s heads, he came up with something very different that suited Maiden’s more mystical musical direction.   Here’s another one I wish I had on vinyl!  Clearly no longer on our plane of reality, but still with his cybernetic implants, Eddie seems to be giving birth to a new generation of Eddies!  On the back, the Arctic ice forms seem to represent past Eddies.  Altogether, seven of them…

The acoustics and keyboards are evident right from the get go as they form a major part of “Moonchild”, written by Bruce and Adrian.  It’s a strong opener, quickly getting up to speed, with lyrical angels and demons swooping upon you as Bruce spits out the words.  I recall Bruce saying in a Canadian interview that he enjoyed playing multiple characters on the album, and when singing as the Devil, he drank “a couple cups of tea.”

Steve’s “Infinite Dreams” begins slow, in line with past Maiden ballads, the sound of precious Fenders caressing your ears as our protagonist emerges from a nightmare.  Soon the tempos change (more than once!) and Bruce lets loose a scream from hell.  (As kids, this is the first time we noticed Bruce losing some of the smoothness and range of his high voice.)

The first single, “Can I Play With Madness” is third.  It too was controversial in a way:  The music video didn’t have Iron Maiden in it!  Aside from some Powerslave footage playing on a TV in a catacomb, the video starred Monty Python’s Graham Chapman and a certain Mr. Eddie.  The mystical video did little to enlighten us kids on the meaning of the lyrics!  Musically, it’s another anthemic Maiden hard rock single, but perhaps the most commercial one yet.

The second single, “The Evil That Men Do” closed side one.  Like the previous song it was written by the triumvirate of Steve, Bruce and Adrian.  It boasts a powerful singalong chorus and some great guitar melodies.  Lyrically, our protagonist has now “slept in the dust with his daughter,” and I think you can guess who’s daughter he’s referring to.  This song represents one of the very few times Maiden sing about love, albeit in this case it’s a sub-plot of a concept album.

Side two opened with Steve’s 10 minute epic, “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” which essentially sums up the plot so far.  It’s not as dynamic as some past epics as “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, nor as riffy.  It is still quite an excellent epic, slow and meandering but of course with ample changes and parts to keep your attention.  Like “Rime” it has a slow spoken word section in the middle.

“The Prophecy”, written by Dave Murray and Steve Harris, continues the story.  The seventh son has foretold a disaster and the village is doomed.  The townspeople do not believe him.   Yet disaster does strike while “Lucifer smiles, looks on and waits,” and the town blames him for bringing a curse!  Musically this is not the best song on the album, and it comes close to filler territory.  Yet the end of it is an intricate medley of sad acoustic guitars, weaving an ancient-sounding melody.  It is moments like this that are a great example of Maiden and acoustic guitars working together appropriately. The third single, “The Clairvoyant” begins with some of Steve’s patented rinky-dinky bass melodies before the dual guitars crash in.  This melodic winner, written alone by Steve, is one of the best.  Not only are the verses soaring, but it is taken to a whole higher level when Bruce digs into the choruses. Nicko’s drum fills are exactly perfect (as they always are) punctuating the right moments with thunderclaps and rain.  It ends with a bright note though:  “As soon as you’re born, you’re dying…to be reborn again!”

Does that happier fate befall our protagonist?  Spitting out disgust at the society that rejected him, he indicts them for their crimes.  “So I think I’ll leave you, with your bishops and your guilt.  So until the next time…have a good sin.”   Yet he finds that to be reborn again might not be a good thing after all, Bruce throwing in a hinting snicker at the end…The name of the song is “Only the Good Die Young”, and it is a great Maiden closer.  One of the best.  And you just have to love that ending!

Yes, Seventh Son is indeed a triumph.  I think the reaction to it at the time was more indicative of the times.  People feared for Maiden losing their edge, as Priest seemed to do (Turbo), while newer heavier bands citing Maiden as an influence gained some traction.  If Maiden had gone even softer after Seventh Son, then I think that a portion (a minority) of fans would have given up on them.  Maiden seemed to be aware of this, though…

I find Martin Birch’s production to be a tad muddy…just by a hair though.  I’d like it a little brighter personally.  Minor nitpick.

For the first time, fans had four singles to collect!  “Infinite Dreams” was thrown out there as a single at the end, right around the time of release for the new live video, Maiden England!

Singles breakdown is below.  For whatever reason, although the other nine songs are included, the 1996 2 CD reissue of the album excluded “Heaven Can Wait”.  Too bad.  There was room on the disc.

“Can I Play With Madness” included the comedy song “Black Bart Blues”.  Please allow Bruce to introduce you to Black Bart, a suit of armor that rode on the back of their tour bus!  On the heavier side, Maiden throw in an authentic cover of “Massacre” by Thin Lizzy.  As I kid I was amazed it was  cover, because it seems custom made for Maiden once you hear this version!

“The Evil That Men Do” (besides having the best cover art, that folded out into a Monsters of Rock poster) had two great B-sides:  Re-recordings of old Maiden classics, with Bruce singing!  In fact neither Bruce, nor Adrian, nor Nicko were in the band when “Prowler” and “Charlotte The Harlot” were originally done.  The new versions, dubbed “Prowler ’88” and “Charlotte The Harlot” ’88 are captured nice and raw, much like the originals but with better production values.  Bruce really nails it on “Prowler ’88”

“The Clairvoyant” was released a a live single surprisingly, in gatefold sleeve no less.  It contained live versions of “The Prisoner” (finally, since it wasn’t on Live After Death!) and the aforementioned “Heaven Can Wait”, complete with “whoah-oh-oh” singalong.

“Infinite Dreams”, which coincided with the new live video, was also live.  It was backed by awesome live versions of “Killers” and “Still Life”, two more songs that weren’t on Live After Death.  A CD version of this video didn’t come out until 1994 so for a while this was the only place you could get them.

The Seventh Tour of a Seventh Tour portended some changes.  The stage productions had gotten so large that the band were afraid of being lost in it all.  Bruce complained on Canadian TV that he’d sweat buckets on stage only to have a fan approach him and ask him something about the “fucking crystal ball”.  But deeper problems were afoot.  Bruce seemed creatively revitalized, but Adrian was clearly unhappy on stage.  The band knew it.  But in the meantime, Steve Harris had a live video to edit, and Bruce had plenty of time off for solo activities…

5/5 stars

1996 2 CD reissue:  4/5 stars – knocking off a point for excluding “Heaven Can Wait” live.

Part 116: IRON MAIDEN’s Gonna Get Ya…No Matter How Far! (The first 10, in 2 CD picture discs!)

Alright folks, strap yourselves in and get ready for the ride.  After the positive feedback from my series of Kiss reviews, I’ve decided to go with popular demand and do all the Iron Maiden next.  We’re going to talk about every studio album, every live album, every compilation, and every rarity that I have access to.  But why not start off with a Record Store Tale?  Here’s how I acquired rare editions of the crucial first 10 albums….

 RECORD STORE TALES PART 116:

IRON MAIDEN’s Gonna Get Ya…No Matter How Far!

My love of Maiden is well documented.  The very first blog here at LeBrain’s Record Store Tales, Part 1, was called “Run To The Hills”. It describes the first time I ever heard the band.  I don’t need to explain to you why I love Iron Maiden.  If you’re reading this, chances are that you already understand.  Iron Maiden are more than just a band.  They are a passion.  With a band like Maiden, the fans strive to own everything.

The setting:  Early 1996, when we still carried new CD stock.  One of our suppliers dropped off a brand new catalogue.  Inside, was a new listing.  An exciting new listing!

Iron Maiden were reissuing their first 10 albums in 2 CD editions, with a bonus disc of B-sides!  Picture discs!  Iron Maiden, Killers, The Number of the Beast, Peace of Mind, Powerslave, Live After Death, Somewhere In Time, Seventh Son, No Prayer, and Fear of the Dark!  Knowing that Maiden usually released a minimum of two singles per album, with a minimum of 2 B-sides per single, this was a MUST for me.  I didn’t have all the Maiden singles.  Not even close.  Some of these songs, like “Burning Ambition” and “Invasion”, I’d never even heard before!  Now I was going to have the chance to own them on CD.

The discs were expensive, even with my staff discount.  But there was absolutely no way I was missing these.  As an added incentive, I didn’t even own all the Maiden albums on CD yet.  Most of these albums I still only owned on cassette or vinyl!  So really, it was a win-win situation.  Not only was I getting the B-sides, but I was also getting all the Maiden albums on CD with a minimum of overlap with my existing collection.  Plus, these were picture discs with Derek Riggs’ singles artwork.  Picture discs were something of a novelty at the time.  Today, most CDs are picture discs and nobody cares if they are.


My boss warned me:  “If you order these, you better make sure you buy them all.”  There was absolutely no question of that, I’m surprised he even mentioned it, knowing what a collector I am.  It’s too bad we didn’t order more, for stock.  The rarity of these discs has shown that we could have sold them quickly, or better yet, hung onto them for a couple years and jacked up the price once they were out of print.

The supplier we were ordering from, the name of which escapes me, was a small-time supplier, and usually couldn’t get everything we ordered.  They had about a 50% success rate.  Yet he listed all these European imports that our main supplier usually shied away from.  The Maiden reissues were all from Europe.  I crossed my fingers.  I wanted all 10.  Not “some”, but all!  “Some” would not do it!

A week later, the first five Maidens arrived!  The following week, another chunk of Maiden shipped!  They only failed to get me one disc: Fear of the Dark.  Resolving to get it somehow, it turns out I didn’t need to worry about it.  Two weeks later, even that one arrived.  Total expenditure:  About $300 with taxes!  I had all 10.  My Maiden B-side collection:  almost complete!  [Note:  When I go through the Maiden reviews, we’ll cover all the B-sides, including songs that are not on these deluxe editions.]

I settled in for some long, long nights of listening.  I made a compilation tape of all the B-sides that I had (including up to the current album, The X Factor), and it ended up being 3 tapes, 100 minute cassettes, which I still have.  To knock so many songs off my wishlist in one fell swoop like this was the kind of thing I lived for.  This was the perk of working in a record store.  What a score!  Today, I don’t know anybody else who has the full set of 10.

Be sure to check back in the coming days and weeks for all the reviews, starting with The Soundhouse Tapes, to the present day…