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:
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
Maiden Japan (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