Friday, January 30, 2009

Iron Maiden: Iron Maiden

On Blogonomicon, Alan was describing an album that he said he bought "deaf", which means he bought it because the cover art caught his eye and he had no idea what the band actually sounded like. That spurred me to comment on the post about my all-time favorite band, Iron Maiden:
As a young lad, I had seen Iron Maiden's previous album Killers on record store shelves. I knew nothing about the band at the time, and I knew just a little about heavy metal, but I remember the cover art was shocking and intriguing, and it was like nothing I had seen before. Every time I went to a record store I would look up Killers just to gawk at the strangeness of the cover for awhile.

And then I heard on the radio that Iron Maiden's next album, The Number of the Beast, had just been released, and I remember telling myself that if the cover art for that album was just as twisted as the other one, I just might buy the album to see what this band sounded like.

So, I checked out the album cover. And it looked just as wild. So I bought it. And I have loved Iron Maiden ever since.
It's true: Iron Maiden is the one musical ensemble that I have consistently listened to since the early 1980s, and I've never tired of listening to them. After buying that first album, The Number of the Beast, I went back and bought the band's previous two albums, Killers and Iron Maiden, and my favorable opinion of them was solidified. Over the years, I've bought most of the band's studio albums, and I don't think I've been disappointed yet.

One thing Iron Maiden was known for was eye-catching cover art, and the album I'm featuring on this post is the band's first offering from 1980, Iron Maiden. That thing on the cover is Eddie, the band's mascot. Supposedly the name comes from the British pronunciation of head, which is sometimes said with a silent initial letter, as 'ead. The band had a giant head that they used as a stage prop, and they got Derek Riggs to paint a rendering of that head for their first album. The look was strange, wild, and disturbing, and it evidently struck the band's fancy because they have used Eddie on all of their album covers.

As for the music on this album, it's great. Punkish in parts, it's still fresh metal, and Steve Harris's bass skills are evident throughout. The choice of subject matter sets the stage for Iron Maiden's career, and they take on such topics as novels (The Phantom of the Opera), life on the streets (Charlotte the Harlot, Running Free), the macabre (Iron Maiden), and instrumentals that speak for themselves (Transylvania). The band returned to these and related topics throughout their career.

This album is a great start to a band's long career.

UPDATE: Here's a sample of one of my favorite songs on this album, "Charlotte the Harlot."


KeithAlanK said...

I first saw Iron Maiden at the Palace Theater in downtown Albany NY--probably 1979 (opening for Judas Priest) with original singer Paul DiAnno, who kinda sucked which is why he got fired.
Bruce D. was a great choice to replace him.

Albatross said...

Bruce Dickinson was a great replacement for Paul DiAnno, who, as I understand it, had quite a few problems handling his controlled and uncontrolled substances. Overall, it was for the better. Bruce brought a character to Iron Maiden that made the band better, and it was a shame when he left for a while. I will get to that on a future Iron Maiden post.