Today it’s time for one of Iron Maiden’s most known songs, and also the most talked about B-side from their long career. And also perhaps one of the least talked about B-sides from their long career.
The cover art here is different in that it doesn’t feature Eddie front and center and that was by design. The single was going to release before the album and management didn’t want the full Somewhere In Time Eddie reveal before then, so Derek Riggs did up a time machine console thing with Eddie being the one piloting the machine. Just a glimpse of Eddie’s reflection is available. The cover art doesn’t stand as iconic compared to many of the other singles but it was done for an understandable reason and is still a nicely presented concept.
The version thing is the same here as with others – several 12- and 7-inch releases and a few on cassette. I have the 12-inch so we get the bonus B-side.
The single is again one of Maiden’s most recognized songs. It was composed by Adrian Smith and it features a very distinctive riff that is instantly recognizable anywhere. The lyrics explore the concept of being away from home out on the grind of tour, something Smith was feeling big time after the huge World Slavery tour Maiden were on prior to this album.
The song’s chorus implores the listener to stop searching for things outside of their scope and appreciate the moments they’re in. It’s a simple message but one that resonates pretty hard and this bit of simple wisdom from Maiden remains one of their top songs to this day.
The first B-side is the most talked-about “bonus track” in Iron Maiden history. It is the subject of a lot of discussion on forum posts and is often hailed as the group’s best B-side. There’s a lot to get into here, though I covered some of the general history last week on the Stranger In A Strange Land release.
Reach Out is a song written by Adrian’s friend Dave Colwell. Colwell had played in Samson just prior and would later go on to be a part of Bad Company, Humble Pie and many others. Reach Out was a song Colwell had in the can and he brought it to the Entire Population Of Hackney jam/show that Adrain, Nicko and others put on during Maiden’s downtime in 1985. Steve Harris suggesting using songs from that show to use as B-sides and that’s exactly what happened. Maiden did a studio rendition for the single, though they kept Adrian at lead vocals. Bruce does provide background singing here, and of course is instantly recognizable.
Reach Out is an obvious departure from Iron Maiden material and is more of a ’80’s radio rock/AOR track. It is a pretty good song and Maiden do an admirable job performing it. It does excite a lot more of the fanbase than it does me personally, though I have nothing against the track. I do think their most interesting non-album track lies a bit further down the road, but we’ll get to that in due time as it’s one of the singles on this list. But no matter what I think, Reach Out is a massive part of Iron Maiden lore and is a stone cold lock for many as the best non-album track they’ve done.
Sheriff Of Huddersfield
The 12-inch “bonus” B-side is, to be brief, a total shitshow. It is a joke track recorded loosely along to the song Life In The City from Adrian Smith’s prior band Urchin. The song is poking fun at the band’s longtime manager Ron Smallwood, who had recently moved to Los Angeles and was complaining about the move. The song has at Smallwood and his cushy kingdom in the Hollywood Hills. Smallwood himself was not aware of the song until just before the single was slated for release.
I won’t act like this is my favorite Maiden B-side, but then again a band who releases tons of material ought to be able to have a joke here and there. This wouldn’t be the last time Maiden used a B-side to poke fun of Smallwood either.
That does it for this one and the Somewhere In Time singles. Up next is Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son and also the portion of the list where my collection is incomplete. I do have the third single released from that album but not the first two. Those will hopefully make their way to me someday but for now I’ll just roll through the series with what I have.
The Iron Maiden Singles Series
Wasted Years (you are here)
Bring Your Daughter … To The Slaughter
Be Quick Or Be Dead
From Here To Eternity
Out Of The Silent Planet
The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg
Empire Of The Clouds