Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Iron Maiden

First off, I had most of the Bruce albums before I got these. I always was wary of another singer that I wasn't used to. But the BMG was running a whole, buy one get 7 free or some shit, and I got the first two Maiden albums. Plus I was working on my remasters and the spines of the Cd's , when put together, makes a big Eddie face peering out of my CD collection, and I had to have the whole thing, yo. Anyway...
This album is great. I can totally see why these guys became a phenomenon. And I am amazed as to how "not" threatening this album is. By today's standards, for sure, but I guess I'm a little too young to understand what the day was like when this came out and what a departure this must have been to the pallet of the world's ears. The thing I like the best about this album, is that here in it's pure form, these guys are just a bratty rock band. Paul's voice is so perfectly Bratty British Rock-guy. And I felt this way on the first listen of Prowler. Even the opening riff is kind of Nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah. Which I think is perfect. I also love that you can actually sense how good these guys were going to get. And they just keep getting better with these albums. I would love to be a fly on the wall....oh wait, I am talking about Killers. I'll finish that statement tomorrow.....
Like a good majority of Maiden fans, I would rank all Dickinson albums first, then Dianno, then Blaze. I know, not very creative. I will be the first to admit that I don't play the first two enough. They are on my mp3 player, but I always pick a Dickinson-era album. That being said, I love thinking of their debut in the context of what it must have sounded like in 1980. Pretty heavy stuff, but not completely foreign - Motorhead had released three albums before 1980. It does have that left-over punk feel to it as well, which makes sense. Three huge songs on this: "Running Free", "Iron Maiden", and "Phantom". Also one of the songs I know the least in their catalog (Blaze stuff excluded): "Strange World". I'm listening to it right now, and it doesn't really make me want to add it to my rotation. What I love about music is that there's a strong possiblity that there's some IM fan out there that lists the song as their fave. Speak up if you are that person!
If you're one of the many who came to this record retroactively, working backwards from Dickinson-era, the initial impression you may have is how raw and unpolished it is in comparison. Not to say later Maiden was ever polished in a Bon Jovi or Def Leppard way, of course, but as they toured and recorded more and more (getting better at songwriting and performing in the process) they were able to add more finesse and arena-ready choruses and hooks to the heaviness. Where later Maiden efforts display a hugeness and a belt-it-to-the-backwall-of-the-Superdome projection, their debut is notable for both it's youthful exuberance as well as it's street level sound. This is one of the few moments of Maiden's history where you just know that the best place to hear these numbers played is in a small, dark, dingy club at 11:58pm, instead of Long Beach Arena at 8:50 . Which brings me to the second impression a Di'Anno-era newbie might have....the blueprint is already present. Granted, Paul's vocals are grittier than Dickinson's, Clive Burr has less flourish than Nicko McBrain, and even Adrian Smith isn't even in the group yet, but that IM gallop is already there from track 1. This is proof positive that Steve Harris has been, is now, and ever shall be the engine that keeps this engine purring. The propulsive momentum of Harris''s here. Twisting dual guitar leads...check. Post second chorus guitar-guitar-bass riffs-in-unison blowouts before the guitar solos....all here. Given their youth on this one, you can more readily pick out the influence of Judas Priest, Thin Lizzy, and a bit of punk attitude as well. But they dropped the anchor right out of the gate, laying a very very solid mission statement/foundation that they would continue to build upon with each new release.

1 comment:

Isorski said...

I am a HUGE Dickinson era fan and rank Powerslave as on of the all time greats. But you know, Killers is right up there too, for very different reasons. Of course, the band is on tour right now. I saw Maiden just outside of Seattle and posted a review and some photos here: Check it out!