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
Women In Uniform (you are here)
Run To The Hills
The Number Of The Beast
Flight Of Icarus
2 Minutes To Midnight
Run To The Hills (live)
Running Free (live)
Stranger In A Strange Land
Be Quick Or Be Dead
From Here To Eternity
Out Of The Silent Planet
The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg
Empire Of The Clouds