The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame 2023 Nominees

The nominations for the 2023 class of the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame were announced last week. As always, the nominee list sparks a lot of outrage and argument. People love to get hot and argue over who should or shouldn’t be considered for induction, and this generates a lot of talk.

And that’s really the point – the more times the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame gets mentioned, especially on the Internet, the more they win. It’s been a series of heated arguments for many years now – the Rock Hall powers that be only select inductees based on marketability, they let in too many non-rock acts, such-and-such legendary artist should have been inducted ages ago, etc. It’s all over the place, both when the nominations are announced and the inductees are revealed a few months later.

I personally have wished to avoid talking much about the Rock Hall. I used to blog about it decades ago but it got old arguing over the same old things. It’s easy content, but it’s also just a hamster running a wheel. It never goes anywhere.

I’m not really talking about this today because I want to rehash a bunch of old arguments. I know the Rock Hall functions as a cash siphon, that much is evident in a number of high-dollar “lures” paid to the Hall to get them to set up shop in Cleveland and for hosting ceremonies, etc. I also know the Hall inducts non-rock artists and honestly I don’t care if they do. That ship sailed a long time ago and I’m not going to waste time worrying about rap and country acts being brought in today. It’s a pointless battle.

If it’s not already obvious why I’m writing about the Rock Hall in wake of the nominee announcement, l’ll go ahead and make that clear now. There are 14 nominees for the 2023 Class, the list of which can be found here if you’re interested. While there are a handful of stories among the nominees, my interest revolves around exactly one.

That’s right, Iron Maiden are again up for Rock Hall consideration. They were nominated but not selected a few years ago. Things on the surface look brighter in the wake of the Judas Priest induction last year. The (nearly useless) fan vote sees Maiden presently in 6th place in voting, just a spot out of the top 5 cutoff. (The fan vote does not guarantee induction, it’s just some BS they put together to make people feel like they have a say in the matter).

While I don’t consider the Rock Hall a huge part of my music life, or a part at all, I’m not going to just sit idly when my favorite band is up for consideration. I did finally give up on the Hall after the ignorant sagas of bands like Kiss, Rush, Deep Purple, Alice Cooper and others who took far too long to be inducted, as well as some deserving acts that still aren’t in (Steppenwolf, hello?). But the new interest in and drama of the British metal bands has me casting an eye back in the Rock Hall’s direction.

The Hall seems to have softened on their “no heavy metal” stance. Judas Priest was inducted last year when an old award was repurposed as the Musical Excellence award to bring in acts who maybe fall under the “mass appeal” radar, as Priest fell short in the fan voting. I’m sort of expecting Iron Maiden to get in under that same banner this year if they aren’t selected for outright induction.

There is an additional wrinkle to Iron Maiden being selected – the Rock Hall powers that be are very shy of controversy and also can tend to be vengeful against those musicians who speak out against it. Well, bear witness to this 2018 quote from Bruce Dickinson, as found on a NME article

“I actually think the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame is an utter and complete load of bollocks, to be honest with you. It’s run by a bunch of sanctimonious bloody Americans who wouldn’t know rock and roll if it hit them in the face.”

I’m gonna guess that the Rock Hall elite didn’t take kindly to this, or the other times Dickinson has railed against the institution. Now, this is mitigated by the fact that a Maiden induction would be drama free, the only question being if the living former members up for induction (Paul Di’Anno and Dennis Stratton) would join Maiden for the live performance. Whether they did or not would not lead to any drama, the likes of which poisoned the inductions of Van Halen, Guns N’ Roses and others. That might work in Maiden’s favor.

Some have wondered if Iron Maiden would even show up for a Rock Hall induction. Bruce’s comments don’t lead anyone to think so, but at the end of the day Maiden are savvy marketers and the Rock Hall is a marketing opportunity, if only a fleeting one. My guess is that the band would attend the ceremony, then Bruce could give his full thoughts to the press later if he wished.

So the big question remains – will Iron Maiden get into the Rock Hall this time around? We’ll find out sometime after April so we’ve got a minute. I think it’s more likely than not that they do, but I could also see them missing again. If anything, I feel like they’ll get put in with the same Musical Excellence thing Judas Priest got last year.

And yeah, I really hope Iron Maiden gets in the Rock Hall. Because once they’re in, I honestly never have to give a damn about that place ever again.

Ranking The Iron Maiden Album Covers – Part Two

It’s back to the Iron Maiden album rankings and time to cap off the top 8. If you missed the first part of my ranking you can find that here.

8 – Brave New World

This was the other one that caused me a lot of deliberation and was pitted against No Prayer For The Dying. In the end I gave BNW the nod. While NPFTD has a more classic Eddie and this is more abstract, this is still a very nice piece of art. Cityscape and landscape stuff is art I like a lot so that is probably why this got pushed up the list. I also like storms, ports and Eddie so this one really has it all. It’s only missing beer.

Brave New World was an Album of the Week pick last year.

7 – Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son

No, I didn’t rank this here because of the number coincidence, this is really where I rank this cover. It’s a very striking image of a disembodied Eddie holding his own heart while hanging out over a frozen body of water. I have no clue what greater meaning this art possesses, if any, but it’s a pretty cool if not whacked out album cover. And just to prove I’m not ranking these based on my musical preferences, this is my favorite Maiden album.

6 – Killers

The second album is still “simple” in a way but features a more clever, purpose-filled and clearly malevolent Eddie holding an implement he most likely used on an unsuspecting victim. Maybe it was Margaret Thatcher. This is a very well done version of Eddie and is leagues above the debut album’s cover art.

Killers has been a past Album of the Week feature.

5 – Piece Of Mind

The classic fourth album features a very striking image of Eddie in a straightjacket, locked up and looking like he wants to take a piece out of someone’s mind. Poor Eddie has been lobotomized, I wonder how he’ll go on without his gray matter. This image was one of several from the classic run of albums that got millions of crazy kids into the band.

4 – A Matter Of Life And Death

It’s the highest-ranking reunion-era album cover and it’s WAY up there on my list. I absolutely love this album art with the band of brothers, skeleton edition heading into war. Eddie is not the highlight of the art and that did rankle some fans but I just totally love the art and didn’t place any importance on Eddie being more in the background. I have this back patch on my jean jacket and I’ll be gutted on the day the patch and/or jacket bites the dust.

A Matter Of Life And Death has been an Album of the Week.

3 – The Number Of The Beast

A magnificent cover featuring Eddie and every metalhead’s favorite pal, the Devil. Here Eddie is the one playing puppet master with the Beast. This duel between Eddie and the Beast plays out in many other art pieces and videos through Maiden’s history.

The really funny part about this cover was that Derek Riggs originally did it as the art for the single release of Purgatory. The band and management wisely held off on the art, correctly judging that it was too good for a single. And also this came out during the rise of the Satanic Panic in the US and the band caught a bunch of flak for it. LOL.

Coincidentally, Purgatory is next week’s pick as I run through my collection of Iron Maiden singles.

2 – Powerslave

Of all the covers and versions of Eddie, few hold a candle to this iconic art of Pharaoh Eddie as an ancient Egyptian monument. While the specifics of Eddie’s reign are lost to history, we have this spectacular image to educate us. It’s no wonder that Iron Maiden was a driving force behind 80’s kids at least pretending to care about history.

Powerslave has been an Album of the Week.

1 – Somewhere In Time

The top spot on my list goes to the 1986 album with the rad sci-fi cover. Eddie is a cyberpunk here in world definitely inspired by Blade Runner. Both the front and back cover art are chock full of easter eggs and references, head to the wiki page to collect them all.

This was the art I saw that got me into Iron Maiden, I knew I had to have this album when I saw the cover. And that’s the same tale with many fans of the group, no matter which specific album cover they first saw. These are some of the most striking and fascinating album covers in music history, and a big part of being an Iron Maiden fan.

Maiden Japan – The Iron Maiden Singles Series

On through the Iron Maiden singles I go, and this time with a bit of a note. I am fairly certain I’m out of order right now – Maiden Japan was Paul Di’Anno’s last recorded work with Maiden and there are still two singles from Killers to go after this.

How did I screw up so awfully bad? I ran with the order the singles came up on my list in Discogs. This release had different release dates across various countries, therefore it shows as simply 1981 on my list, and gets sorted before things with specific release dates attached to them. It’s not a major issue to me so I just roll with it, there’s no way I’m putting in the work needed to change the order on a list that is in several of my posts now. It fouls up the narrative just a little bit but I think it’ll be ok.

Today we have an EP as opposed to a single. This comprises five live tracks, all recorded at a show at Kosei Nenkin Hall in Nagoyo, Japan in May 1981. The cover is a fairly famous piece of Maiden history, with Eddie wielding a katana. It’s one of the more well-known non-album Eddie arts and likely had some influence on decking Eddie out as a full samurai on 2021’s Senjutsu cover.

There is an alternate cover to this EP, though it’ll set a person back if they were looking for it. The original idea for the cover showed Eddie holding Paul Di’Anno’s decapitated head. This was before Di’Anno was out of the band and the cover was changed because band and management were frustrated with Di’Anno. This alternate cover got a South American press several years later and yeah, it ain’t cheap.

The EP’s name also clearly plays on the title of Deep Purple’s much-heralded live album Made In Japan. The “Maiden (insert place here)” would become a common tagline for Iron Maiden through the years, it was a pretty obvious thing to do.

There are too many different versions of this release to really count. I have a US pressing, which is kind of a treat as the US did not get a lot of the Maiden non-album stuff direct to market. There are official versions that differ between four and five tracks, and there are some unofficial versions that apparently have this concert in full. I have not personally run across one but they are out there.

As mentioned already, this is the last officially recorded work with Paul Di’Anno. He would be out of the band before 1981 came to a close. We all probably know who and what came next, but I’ll save that for when the time comes.

The Killers album cycle also introduces a new guitarist – Adrian Smith was hired to replace Dennis Stratton. The guitar duo of Smith and Dave Murray would become one of heavy metal’s most iconic tandems and here we are at the start of it.

I won’t go through each song as I normally do since this is a live EP as opposed to a single with B-sides. Here is the tracklist:

Running Free

Remember Tomorrow

Wrathchild

Killers

Innocent Exile

The recording is a tad rough but overall works well, both with the “rough and tumble” early era of Maiden and in context of live recording standards for emerging bands in 1981. I would say it works well as a live document of the time and isn’t just some slapdash thing with no care put into it.

The song selection here is a strength. Running Free and Wrathchild have long been live staples, while Killers has also seen some time on stage. Remember Tomorrow and Innocent Exile are absolute rarities though and honestly their inclusion alone makes this a worthy pick-up. Rarity isn’t the only issue though, and these versions of the more familiar songs are quite worthy as well.

Maiden Japan has held a special place among the band’s collectors. It is an out of the way item but also not terribly hard to find. It is one of a very few official offerings of Paul Di’Anno singing with the band in concert – other than single B-sides and a few limited releases, there just isn’t much official live material out there. It’s off to bootleg land for the collectors who want more, including the rest of this show.

I’m back tomorrow with part two of the Iron Maiden album cover rankings, and then Sunday with something that won’t have to do with Iron Maiden for once. Also – no pic of the actual record this time – I had a light go out in my room where my records are and getting good light on a record itself is a pain. I’m sure the covers will suffice.

The Iron Maiden Singles Series

Live! + One

Running Free

Sanctuary

Women In Uniform

Maiden Japan (you are here)

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

Ranking The Iron Maiden Album Covers – Part One

I’m doing another two-parter post and also writing a bunch about Iron Maiden yet again. But this is a pretty mandatory ranking to do, along with the actual album ranking that I haven’t got to yet. (sometime this spring, most likely)

It’s a simple thing starting today – I’m going to rank the album covers. Maiden have (almost) always had iconic cover art and I figured I’d throw my hat in the ranking ring on that. I’ll do the first part today, then tomorrow I will keep my normal schedule and press on with the singles series. On Friday I’ll offer up the final portion of this ranking. I don’t know about breaking a multi-part post up like this but I think it’ll be fine.

There are 17 Iron Maiden studio albums. I’ll handle the first 9 on my list today and the final 8 on Friday, the latter portion of the list will have more to talk about. I am only including the full-length studio albums – no live stuff, no EP’s or singles, no other “not album” stuff. Some of that has pretty awesome artwork, much of it I’ll cover over the run of my ongoing singles series. At some future point in time I’ll get to the live albums.

I probably shouldn’t have to say this but I will anyway – this is only about the album art, not the quality of the album itself. If I’ve talked about the album before I’ll provide a link to anyone curious what I think about the actual music, but the tunes have zero bearing on my thoughts regarding the artwork.

The list format works best when working from bottom to top, worst to best, least to first. And with that, I probably don’t even need to tell you how my Maiden album art ranking kicks off.

17 – Dance Of Death

Ugh. What a crime of a cover. So bad the artist didn’t want credit for it. I’ve complained about this cover in a “bad cover art” post I did a long time ago and also when I covered this record in my Album of the Week series recently. I won’t go over it again – just behold this hideous abomination. I mean, it bears repeating – the artist didn’t want credit for working on an Iron Maiden album cover. That tells you how hosed this is.

16 – Book Of Souls

A very nice album that I like quite a bit, but they totally punted on any kind of art here. I wonder if criticism over past covers made them take a more minimalist approach here. They did all sorts of other art with Eddie as a Mayan kind of thing, I don’t know why they didn’t lean into that and make it a more rounded out cover. Too colorful, maybe? I think this art isn’t bad but it’s almost nothing and doesn’t communicate a damn thing about the album.

15 – The X Factor

Here we have claymation Eddie being “executed” or shoved together like a toddler playing with Play-doh or something. I give them props for trying something different but it still kind of comes up short. I will say that the bleak cover does fit the mood of the album pretty well, that they do get points on.

14 – Virtual XI

So the idea here was to combine an upcoming video game featuring Eddie with the 1998 World Cup. The lesson here is not to mix two disparate ideas unless you are really damn good. This cover isn’t horrible but it makes zero sense. I’ve read how this came about but I still don’t understand why.

13 – The Final Frontier

There is a lot going on with this cover. That I’ll give points for, there is stuff there and it’s not totally obscure like with Virtual XI. Some alien kind of thing is killing Eddie, I guess, that seems to be the premise. Or Eddie is the alien thing killing an Eddie-like being in a spacesuit, I don’t know. (I think it’s actually that one) The cover artist didn’t want to do Eddie, but the band insisted that Eddie be on the cover since he’s on, like, every single one in some form. The art is fine but the attempt to stray from the band’s iconic cover character is a bit stupid.

12 – Iron Maiden

I might be courting a bit of stiff resistance here but this is where I rank the debut album’s cover. It has its place in history, both as the wide-market debut of Eddie and as artist Derek Riggs’ first album contribution to the art. Riggs would draw several memorable Maiden covers over the years, and it should tell you something if I’m just now getting to one he did.

I do think the art is a total piece of history and is good. But let’s admit it – Eddie looks kinda out of it here. He had more precision to his other looks, and that includes some single art that Riggs did before the debut album came out. Dude looks a bit stone here and it would take a bit more art to flesh out Eddie’s persona. Good stuff but still down a few rungs from the others.

11 – Senjutsu

Massive points here for samurai Eddie, something that’s been dreamed of since the Maiden Japan EP many moons ago. (also coming up on this very site tomorrow) The art of Eddie is great and nicely detailed. The cover overall has more going on than Book Of Souls but still feels a bit lacking. I can accept this one much more since Eddie looks pretty damn good on it and it checks off a wantlist item in a nice way.

I covered the music of Senjutsu very early on in the “history” of my blog.

10 – Fear Of The Dark

A very nicely done cover that reshapes Eddie as a nasty creature out stalking in the trees. This was the first cover Derek Riggs did not do for the band. The change is apparent but it suits the album title and also the title track very well and this was a nice way to let someone else have a go at handling Eddie.

9 – No Prayer For The Dying

This was the closet call of the bunch for me, choosing between this and what became my number 8 pick. This was the final cover art Derek Riggs would do on Maiden studio albums, though he continued some other art work with the band in years since.

There are two versions of this cover – the original with Eddie holding a presumed graverobber in the likeness of band manager Ron Smallwood, and a remastered cover with Eddie not holding anyone and simply busting out of the grave. I’ve posted the remaster above and will post the original below for reference. I do tend to prefer the remastered art with just Eddie.

This is a very nice album cover, it’s one I like a lot and I’d say, in general, the art gets more love than the album. It does mark the end of an iconic run of Riggs covers and is a special part of history.

That does it for part one. Tomorrow I’ll return to the Maiden singles series with Maiden Japan and then on Friday I’ll wrap this up with the top 8.

Part Two is now up for your viewing pleasure, head here to see the rest.

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

Tales From The Stage – Iron Maiden 2013

Today I’m gonna go somewhere back in time to what is now astonishingly nine years ago. I first saw Iron Maiden in 2000, now in 2022 I’ve seen them four times. The concert I detail today was my second time seeing them.

Maiden were touring a retro set this time around – it was based on the 1988 Maiden England tour. The set lists between 1988 and 2013 would differ a bit, I’ll get into that below. I was personally very excited for this one – while Maiden alternate between “legacy” sets and current material a fair bit, this tour was paying homage to my favorite era of the band.

The show was in what used to be called the Sprint Center in Kansas City. For those unaware of the “unique” geography of Middle America, Kansas City is partially in the state of Kansas but a lot of it is in Missouri, and arguably the most significant stuff. (The same is true for St. Louis – a lot of it is in Missouri but a part is in Illinois). And to continue with the unimportant trivia, the Sprint Center is now known as the T-Mobile Center because Sprint and T-Mobile merged a few years ago.

The show was on a Saturday and it’s also important to note that Maiden had not played in Missouri for 13 years at this point – exactly the last time I saw them. The Sprint Center is located near a fairly large entertainment district in KC and the place was electric hours before the show. We had a few adult beverages in the area with a legion of people in Maiden gear before heading into the arena.

One other minor note about the venue – I’ve seen Maiden twice now in this same arena and both times the place was top-notch at getting people into the venue in a timely fashion. This point will come in handy in the future when I get into the time I saw Maiden in a different city with a much less capable entry mechanism. But no such issues in KC.

Most any show has an opening act, and Iron Maiden brought a doozy for this tour – Megadeth were the support for this tour. It made for a stellar tour package but did raise an interesting question – what exactly were Megadeth going to play in an opening slot? They have more than enough material to air out a two hour headline set, so what did they go for in slot an hour or less?

They stuck to the hits, of course. All but one of their nine songs came from their classic run of albums from 1986 through 1992. The lone exception was Kingmaker, from their just-released Super Collider. The album is regarded as a flop in the Megadeth lexicon, though Kingmaker is cited as a highlight track. The song worked fine in their set and I wasn’t bothered by it. The classics played were fantastic and Megadeth was in fine form. Somewhat sadly, to date this still marks the only time I’ve seen them live.

With the crowd ready to go, Iron Maiden took the stage. It was sheer joy after the day-long party outside the arena and Megadeth’s opening set. As mentioned before, the set was a retro offering. The set list closely mimicked the 1988 Maiden England tour list, with a few exceptions. We did not get Killers, Heaven Can Wait or Die With Your Boots On in 2013. Instead two songs from Fear Of The Dark were thrown in – Afraid To Shoot Strangers, and the ever-present title track. I would have personally rather had the old songs in but I wasn’t put off too bad by the decision.

Overall the set was fantastic and it was a trip through the highlights of Maiden’s career. The Maiden England set is a de facto greatest hits, omitting the reunion stuff but hitting on the band’s classic era when they were in top form. The set naturally included many of Maiden’s hit songs, including The Trooper and Number Of The Beast, alongside Wasted Years, 2 Minutes To Midnight, Run To The Hills and Aces High in the encore.

The real highlight of a Maiden England retrospective is the focus on stuff from Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son, which was the current album when the original Maiden England tour was rolling along. The 2013 edition featured five songs from that album, including the opening salvo of Moonchild and Can I Play With Madness? Hearing the title track toward the end of the set was a massive highlight and the band went all out for that presentation. This is a set with no real valleys, but hearing Seventh Son live was the definite peak.

The Seventh Son… love was not over with the title track. Maiden brought The Evil That Men Do out in the encore and that was a massive highlight. I was just a hair too young to see the band live on the original tour when this first came out, but here was my chance all these years later to hear it in concert and it was spectacular. Hearing all of this stuff from way back when was a massive treat, I never expected this kind of a set with the way Maiden have leaned hard into the new material in the reunion era.

There were a few “hidden gems” in the set, in a manner of speaking. They were songs played on the original tour but the band saw fit to bring them back and play them in 2013. Most fans wouldn’t have bet on hearing these songs in the reunion era. The Phantom Of The Opera was played for the first time in a long time, and The Clairvoyant was part of the Seventh Son love fest.

But the true jewel of the evening was The Prisoner. This cut from The Number Of The Beast has been one of the more underrated gems of the Maiden lexicon and I was over the moon to get to hear it live. This was again another chance to live in an era I wasn’t originally able to participate in.

The September 2013 concert is a very special one in my memory. It was my second time seeing my favorite band live. A whole bunch of my friends from town made the trek too, I’ve honestly never been in such a huge place with so many familiar faces. The pre-party before the show was something to behold, with Maiden fans of all ages converging and celebrating this massive event. And while it’s hard to ignore the first time I saw them when I wonder what my favorite show of all time was, this one is certainly a contender. Can’t go wrong when your favorite band does a retrospective tour of their golden era. I always have been someone searching for his wasted year, but I did get to live one of my golden ones.

No easily found footage from the show I went to, but here’s some stuff from both bands that year.

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