So this is my hard cover coffee table book in which I have two or three Maiden experts per studio album go off about all things Maiden, Paul vs. Bruce vs. Blaze, a coupla guitars vs. three, the adventures of Eddie, Martin Birch vs. Kevin Shirley, Bruce’s songs vs. Steve’s… a full love-in (and sometimes not) with every last Maiden studio album.
Gorgeous book, same very cool 10” x 7” dimension as my recent Zeppelin book (as well as the Clash, AC/DC and Floyd), gorgeous hard cover, tons of rare pictures throughout, of the band, of memorabilia. Nice leather look spot varnish on the cover. Long intro reviews of each album by me, followed by the extensive Q&A breakdowns.
Our panel of experts tearing apart and putting back together all the Maiden albums consists of… Blaze Bayley, Rich Davenport, Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth, Marty Friedman, Matt Heafy, Tim Henderson, Chris Jericho, Jimmy Kay, Sean Kelly, Mike Portnoy, Franc Potvin, Kirsten Rosenberg, Brian Slagel, Nita Strauss and Ahmet Zappa.
As my Introduction in the book says…
Can’t say I was Eddie-on-the-spot with The Soundhouse Tapes, and for that I blame the fact that I was from a small town in British Columbia, an ocean and a very large continent away from Iron Maiden’s hunting grounds, the hunt being any other New Wave of British Heavy Metal band that would dare stumble into their path on the way to renaissance rock dominance.
But there I was at Quintessence Records in Vancouver, paying $14.99 for my import copy of Iron Maiden on May 28, 1980, snatching up on that same trip (what I was doing on an eight-hour car drive away from home during the grade eleven school year is beyond me) a copy is Saxon’s Wheels of Steel for $16.00.
Getting home to Trail, I’m sure I was struck with how the Saxon had at least a leg-warmer-clad toe in the ‘70s, while this band that I knew was already soaking up all the oxygen in the scene was all about the new decade, Steve’s long struggle through the second half of the ‘70s notwithstanding (for how were we even to know about such things back then?).
And thus began a dizzying bout of Iron Maiden mania. Killers was purchased through my work at the local record store, Kelly’s, no price recorded, on May 30, 1981, followed by the Maiden Japan EP, $3.99 on December 12, 1981. The Number of the Beast was snagged at A&A Records in Vancouver, on a trip my dad made to visit me during first-year university, where I had been lonely and stressed, having—long story—put three-fifth of my eggs in one basket for an experimental arts program called Arts One, where the prof decided to give almost everybody some variation of C minuses. In any event, me an’ pops went to, I believe it was three Vancouver Canucks playoff games, which were rare indeed in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Back to Maiden, that one was purchased brand-new for $4.97 on April 7, 1982. Flash forward to May 26, 1983, Piece of Mind ran me $7.99 at Sam the Record Man in Victoria. Powerslave? $6.99, September 20, 1984 at A+B Sound in Victoria, and then Live After Death for $9.99 on November 27, 1985, at Cheapies in Hamilton, Ontario, now that I found myself submerged in the MBA program at McMaster. Anyway, thanks for indulging me the use of my green Duo-Tang record purchase record that I’d lost for fifteen years and only recently found.
I’ll hit you with one other date. The first time I ever saw Iron Maiden live was with Saxon and Fastway supporting in Spokane, Washington, July 24, 1983, and again, the lapse I’ll blame on coming from the boonies, the bush, nowhere, or at least nowhere near the rock ‘n’ roll tour circuit. But what a show, and to this day, as it was then, in my personal ranking Piece of Mind, Power & The Glory and Fastway are titanic equals of each other, and, strangely enough, in my opinion the three best records of the catalogue by each of them bands.
In any event, grind forward a few weeks and then some and here we are, in a position to celebrate together this legendary band that is still vital and vitally writing, making the same kind of music they brought us in the heady days of the NWOBHM, at which time they quickly leapt ahead, through determination, through talent, through personality, through a pile of creativity, through Rod Smallwood through Derek Riggs and Eddie.
For those who are unfamiliar with the structure of this book, Iron Maiden Album by Album is the follow-up to similar tomes I’ve written on Rush, AC/DC and Pink Floyd, the concept of each of those as well as this one being the assembly of a panel of deep fans and experts from all walks of life, and a subsequent jaw session over each of the band’s studio albums. What resulted for these folks in many cases (because they’ve told me so), myself for sure, and hopefully for you the reader, is a rekindling of the love affair you might have had for this band at one point but has since dimmed amongst the sensory overload that is modern digital life.
Like I say, that’s certainly been the case for your intrepid moderator, because I gotta tell ya, through the long journey through the Maiden catalogue with these folks, many of them friends and all of them at least acquaintances through the years (save for the two gals I’d not known before, Nita Strauss and Kirsten Rosenberg, along with Ahmet Zappa—all a delight), I’ve come out the other end affirming something I’d suspected for many years. And this is it: even though there’s no way that for an old man like me that anything the band makes will be able to usurp or knock down the deep sentimental love I have for the first five Iron Maiden records, absolutely nipping at their heels and hugely enjoyable near start to finish are the last four albums, with The Final Frontier being my favorite, followed closely by The Book of Souls.
Alas, Brave New World I like about as much as I did during the excitement we all had as we interviewed the guys and wrote about the reunion in our mag Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles eighteen years ago. But land sakes, Dance of Death and A Matter of Life and Death... I used to sneer at the similarities in those titles, but now the word “death” in an Iron Maiden record title is synonymous with top-shelf quality—with these two albums, it’s almost code for the elixir of youth.
And dammit, I love when that happens. I love when a heritage act I grew up with can keep me enthusiastically engaged with their new music. In this light, I put Maiden in the same camp as Motörhead, Deep Purple, Cheap Trick, Kiss, and as the next generation goes, Metallica, Megadeth and Overkill. Saxon and Accept ain’t doing too bloody badly either.
Anyway, thanks for allowing me these wayward introductory musings. I hope you enjoy reading the thoughts of my esteemed and knowledgeable panel as much as I did gathering them up. It was an absolute joy getting told and re-sold boldly seemingly one minute to the next by these people, on the many deep virtues all over the vast Maiden catalogue, especially, as I say, across the astonishing run of super-long and involved records since Bruce bounced back. With that happy thought lingering, I now ease myself into the comparatively passive moderator’s seat, and present to you, Iron Maiden Album by Album.
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