I don’t know if Iron Maiden named themselves after the medieval torture device or after Margaret Thatcher, but I love the name just the same. My earliest memory of Iron Maiden is seeing the film clip for “Run To The Hills” on Countdown. I remember being completely blown away by the album, Number Of The Beast, when I finally got around to getting myself a copy. I thought it was magnificent and I loved every track on it, and still do.
I went back and listened to the first two Iron Maiden albums featuring Paul Di’Anno on vocals and despite the music being enjoyable Di’Anno’s vocals just didn’t cut it for me. Bruce Dickinson’s vocals are what helped make Iron Maiden sound so good. So I was very pleased when “Flight Of Icarus” was featured on Countdown as a preview of their next studio album, Piece Of Mind. It turned out to be a worthwhile successor to Number Of The Beast although not quite as good.
1984’s Powerslave however, was another masterpiece on a par with Number Of The Beast. Great songs, great performances and fantastic album art, music videos and a tour that saw them come to Australia.
In 1985 I got to see them live at the Canberra Theatre as part of the Powerslave tour. This was my first ever gig so it will always be etched into my brain. This classic tour is immortalised on their next release, the double live album Live After Death.
Iron Maiden kept plugging away in the 80s and into the 90s releasing Somewhere In Time in 1986 (their first album to feature synthesizers), the concept album Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son in 1988 and No Prayer For The Dying in 1990. In 1992 they released Fear Of The Dark, their last studio album to feature Bruce Dickinson on vocals for 8 years, as he left in 1993 to further pursue his solo career.
After a couple of lacklustre albums featuring Blaze Bayley on vocals Bruce Dickinson returned to the mic for Brave New World, released in 2000. Although much better than the previous couple of albums it still wasn’t comparable to the material released in their 80s heyday.
The band did keep on improving from there, as if they were finding their feet again once Bruce had rejoined the fold. Dance of Death, released in 2003, and 2006’s A Matter of Life And Death showed further development in their sound and a willingness to experiment once again with both concept albums and lengthier tracks. Both helped pave the way for the epic album, The Final Frontier, released in 2010. I consider this to be their finest album since Powerslave and once again I got to see them on tour.
The quality of that album, its corresponding tour and Bruce Dickinson winning a battle with throat cancer, have all led me to highly anticipate their new album, The Book Of Souls, due for release in September 2015. It is their first studio double album and will apparently feature the longest song of their career clocking in at over 18 minutes. I can’t wait…