Women In Uniform – The Iron Maiden Singles Series

On through the singles series we go, today we essentially re-visit the very first one. While Live Plus One was a Japan-only release, this one was released in a wide variety of formats and to many different countries.

Already with the cover art we have some differences in versions. Posted above is the typical cover for most of the versions. It features British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in an army uniform with a gun, ready to ambush Eddie as he strolls along with a few lovely ladies. Maggie’s revenge is for Eddie killing her on the cover the of the Sanctuary single.

Now you can see that I have a different version of the release and a fairly generic cover that’s just the debut album cover with some hype text. I don’t know if they did this in case they needed a censored version of the cover, but it seems the Thatcher original got to market in good shape.

Women In Uniform

On now to the songs, and the feature track this time is a cover. The original was a very recent tune from 1978, the original artist were Skyhooks, an Australian glam rock act. Skyhooks had achieved some level of success in their home country but didn’t break through internationally. Women In Uniform as a Skyhooks single charted at number 8 in Australia and hit a modest 73 on the UK charts.

Iron Maiden were persuaded to record the song by their management team and record label. The recording process did not go the way Iron Maiden wanted, with information provided in Mick Wall’s 2004 edition of his biography of Iron Maiden, Run To The Hills: The Authorised Biography Of Iron Maiden.

Steve Harris and his outfit were keen on recording a heavy version of the song. The record label hired producer Tony Platt, who had worked as an engineer when Mutt Lange produced his run of AC/DC albums. Platt was under instructions to get a hit out of the Maiden recording sessions, and tinkered with the mix behind Harris’ back. When Harris found out, he canned Platt and did the final mix himself.

Harris was always dissatisfied with how Women In Uniform came out and this led to a deep distrust of outside interference in his music after that. It wouldn’t matter much, as Iron Maiden’s remarkable run with Martin Birch as producer was just on the horizon. But the incident might have contributed greatly to a “control freak” approach from Harris, which has been a topic of much discussion in Maiden circles in years since.

Women In Uniform was a decent single for Iron Maiden, heading to 35 on the UK charts. The band also filmed a music video for the song, the band’s first. This was also a bit before MTV was a thing so it was something of a novel concept for an up and coming act to film a video. This was the only time Maiden released a cover as a single – while that statement isn’t technically true, the other instance is a very limited promo item and also I don’t own that one so as it stands, this one is all we need to worry about.

The single is noteworthy as the final work of guitarist Dennis Stratton in Iron Maiden. Stratton left the band soon after, citing musical differences, but truly due to conflicts with Steve Harris and manager Ron Smallwood. Stratton reportedly was complicit in helping Tony Platt attempt to re-engineer this song as a radio hit, so this might actually be his reason for exiting. He would be replaced by some guy named Adrian…

There is another issue surrounding the song, and that is how it is viewed in a modern context. In short, it isn’t viewed highly. It is considered crude and objectifying to women, and has been dismissed by a fair number of people. Sure, it’s a bit raunchy, but there’s far worse out there. I honestly don’t see the huge problem with it – the lyrics are pretty dumb on the surface and this isn’t a song that should be taken seriously. I don’t think the song is that bad and I feel like it’s a bit of posturing over what are some juvenile at worst lyrics. I don’t have a problem with people wanting their music to be more conscientious, but I think this song is barely a blip on the radar and isn’t worth the hassle.

The rest of this 12-inch single has two live cuts that are also found on the Live Plus One release – Phantom Of The Opera and Drifter. I’ve already been over them (link is below on the list if you missed it) so I’ll just leave things at that.

Three more cuts from Paul Di’Anno’s tenure in Maiden await. Also the list continues growing, at least for as long as I keep finding decently priced stuff. That time might soon be at an end.

The Iron Maiden Singles Series

Live! + One

Running Free

Sanctuary

Women In Uniform (you are here)

Maiden Japan

Purgatory

Twilight Zone/Wrathchild

Run To The Hills

The Number Of The Beast

Flight Of Icarus

The Trooper

2 Minutes To Midnight

Aces High

Run To The Hills (live)

Running Free (live)

Stranger In A Strange Land

Wasted Years

The Clairvoyant

Infinite Dreams

Holy Smoke

Be Quick Or Be Dead

From Here To Eternity

Out Of The Silent Planet

Rainmaker

Different World

The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg

Empire Of The Clouds

Sanctuary – The Iron Maiden Singles Series

On we go through the Iron Maiden singles series. There is still a handful of Paul Di’Anno stuff to get through and today’s 12-inch record sports a studio track, two live songs and a cover tune.

Sanctuary was released in a variety of formats, though most everything has the same contents. Mine is a press from the Netherlands, totally no-frills packaging, just a sleeve and record. The cover art is its own bit of lore, of course. We clearly see Eddie having just finished with the act of gutting then-British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The cover was designed because Thatcher had just finished a visit with the then-USSR, who dubbed the PM the “Iron Maiden.” The band was not into having to share their name with the politician, hence the cover.

Some pressing covers were “censored” by having a strip placed over Thatcher’s eyes so as not to recognize her likeness, as though that would work. The idea to censor the cover actually originated from Maiden manager Ron Smallwood, who guessed that the whole thing might get more press. He was right, and Maiden’s salacious cover art got news articles and condemnation from Thatcher fans.

The following video has 3 of the single’s 4 tracks, omitting only Prowler.

Sanctuary

Our title track was not released on the debut album in England but did get added to the album pressings for the US. Sanctuary worked its way through the UK on a compilation record and then this single.

Sanctuary is a good mash-up of rock and punk, the hybrid sound Maiden took out in their early days. The rolling guitar is signature early Maiden and the lyrics plead the case of a fugitive needing a place to hide out after doing some really bad stuff. It has been a staple of many live sets over the years and I’d guess it’s one of their most-played songs overall.

Prowler

This is a bit of a bonus to the single and only available on the 12-inch vinyl format. Prowler was the opening track to the debut album and a pretty big statement from the band – it introduced the band’s sound in a big way and even has the feel of stuff Maiden would do after the first few albums. I’ll save the discussion for whenever I cover the debut record, but this is one of my favorites from that album. The main riff on this just screams MAIDEN! It is something to behold.

Drifter

The B-side opens with a live version of Drifter from the Marquee Club in London. While a live version of Drifter from the Marquee was on the Live Plus One EP, this is actually an earlier gig from April of 1980. It’s a good performance with an extended call and response bit where Paul Di’Anno mimics the end refrain of The Police’s Walking On The Moon. Pretty funny stuff. Drifter would appear in studio form on the band’s next album, 1981’s Killers.

I’ve Got The Fire

And we head out with a slightly modified title and a cover of the Montrose song I Got The Fire. Maiden do kind of pound through it, which is fair for both their sound at the time and the live club setting. While this doesn’t outshine the original by any stretch, it is a pretty good rendition. This won’t be the last time Montrose comes up in one of these Iron Maiden singles, either.

That wraps it up for Sanctuary. Next week is a special treat because I’m going to talk about a handful of songs I already talked about before. That’s why I didn’t really talk much about one of them last time. And we’ll get to see ol’ Maggie again.

The Iron Maiden Singles Series

Live! + One

Running Free

Sanctuary (you are here)

Women In Uniform

Maiden Japan

Purgatory

Twilight Zone/Wrathchild

Run To The Hills

The Number Of The Beast

Flight Of Icarus

The Trooper

2 Minutes To Midnight

Aces High

Run To The Hills (live)

Running Free (live)

Stranger In A Strange Land

Wasted Years

The Clairvoyant

Infinite Dreams

From Here To Eternity

Out Of The Silent Planet

Rainmaker

Different World

The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg

Empire Of The Clouds

Running Free – The Iron Maiden Singles Series

It’s time to get back into the series and an actual, proper single this time. This is one of a very few 7-inch Maiden singles I own. It makes today simple as it’s A-side and B-side, the 12-inch singles have some beefy contents sometimes.

There are some different versions of this single around, but in this case they’re mostly just territorial presses and all of the versions have the same content. Mine is a UK pressing in a cardboard sleeve, nothing special to it.

This was the true debut multi-territory single from Iron Maiden, in so far as conventional single releases go. It was put out in advance of the debut album. This is the first official cover appearance of Maiden’s most famous member, Eddie. But as you can see he’s not that easy to make out – the band wanted the album to be his true “reveal” so here you see his face obscured. Putting his face on the label of the single’s record itself probably didn’t generate much suspense for the future “reveal.”

This official video from IM’s channel features both sides of the single in one clip.

Running Free

Maiden’s first single is a very simple and basic rock song, one of the relative few the group recorded. Paul Di’Anno penned the lyrics about being wild, young and free, somewhat inspired by his own young life.

The song is a long-time staple – it’s been played live a trillion times (don’t quote that) and is still one of the band’s best-known even in a career with 17 albums and a peak a few years away yet. A live version got its own single release a few years down the road, which I’ll cover when its time comes.

While Running Free doesn’t necessarily fit the mold of a quintessential Iron Maiden song, it’s one I enjoy quite a bit. It’s simple and pleasing and it works great live. It’s a massive part of the Maiden lexicon even if it got technically outclassed by other material.

Burning Ambition

There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to Maiden B-sides, and honestly a lot of it isn’t good. But we come out of the gate with what might be the best B-side the band ever did. The song comes out with a classic rock vibe uncommon in Iron Maiden’s music but hits pretty hard once Di’Anno starts singing. The song deals with someone who warns his significant other not to hold him down as he pursues something beyond the mundane life.

Burning Ambition has a bit of band trivia behind it – it marks one of the few recorded performances of drummer Doug Sampson. Sampson played on the famous Soundhouse Tapes demo and a handful of other demo tracks, but that is all of his Maiden recording history for his year or so in the band.

Burning Ambition is on the short list of “best Maiden B-sides.” It does feel like enough of a departure to excuse its absence from an album but its quality is undeniable. The song has surfaced on some reissue and archive material over the years but is still a bit of a hidden gem in the catalog.

That’s all for today. It’s on through a run of 12 inch singles next, all with a bunch of stuff on them. Also the list will get a bit bigger next week – I’ve got a few CD singles in, and also I discovered that I have a few more records that what I thought I did. Thanks for not updating, Discogs.

The Iron Maiden Singles Series

Live! + One

Running Free (you are here)

Sanctuary

Women In Uniform

Maiden Japan

Purgatory

Twilight Zone/Wrathchild

Run To The Hills

The Number Of The Beast

Flight Of Icarus

The Trooper

2 Minutes To Midnight

Aces High

Run To The Hills (live)

Running Free (live)

Stranger In A Strange Land

Wasted Years

The Clairvoyant

Infinite Dreams

From Here To Eternity

Out Of The Silent Planet

The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg

Empire Of The Clouds

Live Plus One – The Iron Maiden Singles Series

It’s time to kick off the Iron Maiden singles series. Today’s initial offering gives a nice glimpse into something uncommon within the Maiden official release series – live material with Paul Di’Anno on vocals. This also marks some of Maiden’s earliest live recordings.

There are a few different versions of this EP, I have and will be going over the original Japanese pressing containing four tracks. There is a later Greek pressing with additional tracks but it isn’t cheap while this Japanese version is pretty easy to obtain.

Also of note – my copy is a corrected version. There is a misprint version, the error is on the back in the bottom right corner. The corrected copy says “Play Loud” while the misspelled version says “Play Roud.” And yes, the misprint is a collector’s item that goes for even more than the Greek pressing with extra tracks.

Anyway, enough of yammering about different versions, let’s get into the songs. Three of the songs are live from a show at The Marquee Club in London during July 1980. The Marquee was a very historic club for decades and was a highlight spot for the emerging metal scene of the 1980’s. It was of special importance to the New Wave of British Heavy Metal scene, which is obviously what we’re talking about here.

Sanctuary

The lead-off track is noteworthy as this is the only official place to find this recording. The other tracks would all be re-released on other material later. The song was part of the debut album but initially only offered on North American pressings.

This version is pretty good, it’s decent sounding for a 1980 live recording. Di’Anno’s vocals come out clearer than anything but the band is recognizable. I always enjoyed this song quite a bit so having another live version of it with the OG singer works for me.

Phantom Of The Opera

Another song from the debut record, the band rips through it in a bit of rough and tumble fashion but that’s very fitting for the early era of Maiden. It is the full 7 minutes of the song as presented on the studio record so the band didn’t truncate it at all (they never really do that anyway).

Drifter

This is a track that would appear on the second album Killers but that album was several months away still, so the band were airing this one out early. This is a really good version featuring some call and response stuff between Di’Anno and the crowd, it’s the kind of stuff that makes live recordings worth it.

Women In Uniform

The last song is the “plus one” alluded to by the EP’s title. This is a studio recording and also a cover song, originally done by Australian band Skyhooks in 1978. There are some discussion points around this cover song – both with the troubled story of Maiden’s recording of it and also how the song is viewed in a modern context. But since this very single is coming up in a few weeks I’ll save those discussions for then.

That wraps up the first of the singles series. Now the ball is rolling and it’ll be a monster when it reaches the bottom of the hill. If this wasn’t enough for you, you’re in luck because in a few short weeks 3 of the 4 same songs come up again.

The Iron Maiden Singles Series

Live! + One (you are here)

Running Free

Sanctuary

Women In Uniform

Maiden Japan

Purgatory

Twilight Zone/Wrathchild

Run To The Hills

The Number Of The Beast

Flight Of Icarus

The Trooper

2 Minutes To Midnight

Aces High

Run To The Hills (live)

Running Free (live)

Stranger In A Strange Land

Wasted Years

The Clairvoyant

Infinite Dreams

From Here To Eternity

Out Of The Silent Planet

The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg

Empire Of The Clouds

Pre-Game – The Iron Maiden Singles Series

I’m getting everything set up to kick off my run through the Iron Maiden singles series. I’ll begin it next Thursday and it will run until its conclusion. Right now that appears to be sometime in June, though I expect the list will grow between now and then.

As it stands, everything I have in my collection is a vinyl single. There are some CD singles I want to get and as they aren’t expensive it will be the area I focus my collecting on the next few months so the list will grow a bit. This could run through the bulk of the summer if I get the ones I have my eye on. The vinyl list might grow some as well. And obviously I will revisit the list when I acquire new ones after I’ve made my initial run through.

This is by no means a complete collection of Iron Maiden singles. They have a bunch and there are a few that carry insane prices. My collection will never be complete, short of winning the lottery or finally getting that huge contract from a baseball team that I’ve been patiently waiting on for decades. But I’ve been able to gather a fair collection together and the Maiden stuff I have would be the absolute last I’d part with, only in an absolute catastrophe would I unload anything.

I am simply using the order these pop up on in Discogs sorted by year, so I don’t know if the exact release dates are in proper order. It’s not that big of a deal – everything will come out in the wash. Also I am including what would probably be considered EP’s here. Maiden only have a few released truly considered EP’s and I don’t see any point in keeping them out of what is a huge list anyway.

That’s about all for now, the series kicks off next Thursday. Until then, up the irons!

The Iron Maiden Singles Series

Live! + One

Running Free

Sanctuary

Women In Uniform

Maiden Japan

Purgatory

Twilight Zone/Wrathchild

Run To The Hills

The Number Of The Beast

Flight Of Icarus

The Trooper

2 Minutes To Midnight

Aces High

Run To The Hills (live)

Running Free (live)

Stranger In A Strange Land

Wasted Years

The Clairvoyant

Infinite Dreams

From Here To Eternity

Out Of The Silent Planet

The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg

Empire Of The Clouds