In the first of a series of posts I am going to take a look (and most likely waffle on quite a bit) at records that changed and shaped my life for various reasons. First up:
The first concert was in Warsaw, Poland, on August 9th 1984, and continued through 24 countries for 322 days. During this period, we travelled nearly 100,000 miles, used 7,778 hotel rooms, 6,392 guitar strings, 3,760 drum sticks, 3,008 guitar picks, and consumed about 50,000 cans of beer, 30,000 soft drinks, 6,000 pints of milk, 2,500 pints of orange juice and literally tons of food.
I first came across this album (not like that you filthy swines….) somewhere in the 80s. I can’t be certain but I am tempted to think that it was somewhere in 87/88 (more on why I think that in a later post). I have an older cousin who owned the album and it was at his house one day I saw it and expressed how cool it looked. And it does. Look at it. Mmmmmmmm.
Now I’ve no idea whether I knew who Iron Maiden were at the time or whether I was simply attracted by the artwork*. My group of friends I used to hang out with growing up had older brothers who were into metal but I tend to think that my discovery of this album pre-dated me bugging them for music (again, more on that in a later post).
So off home I went (with my Mum…. I would have only been 7/8 at the time….) and put on my record player. For some reason I had a record player in my bedroom even though my passion for music was limited to picking through my Dad’s record collection and being giving singles for no reason whatsoever (Black Lace’s ‘Agadoo’ for example). Anyway I lowered the needle on record 1, side 1…. and was instantly in love with the album.
… We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender …
Intro: Churchill’s Speech
It’s energy, it’s technicality and it’s musicality. I also knew, from the pictures on the gate fold, that there was a very special live show backing up this music.
How awesome is that for a centrefold?!?!? I don’t want to be one of the those boring old bastards who moans on about how much better music was “back in the day” and before the internet…. but unfortunately I am one of those boring old bastards. In some respects anyway. But I digress….. pouring over the centrefold and album sleeves, pulling the sleeve closer to my face to try and make out the details in the pictures. It was a total sensory experience. Here I was, absorbing the most exciting and complex music I had heard in my little life and combining it with the stunning visuals. I was in love. And what an album. Let’s just take a look at the track listing for a second:
- Intro: Churchill’s Speech
- Aces High
- 2 Minutes to Midnight
- The Trooper
- Flight of Icarus
- Rime of the Ancient Mariner
- The Number of the Beast
- Hallowed Be Thy Name
- Iron Maiden
- Run to the Hills
- Running Free
- 22 Acacia Avenue
- Children of the Damned
- Die with Your Boots On
- Phantom of the Opera
I mean… just… look at it. Packed filled of classics (although at the time they were still “new”) covering all albums and each one performed by a band at the peak of it’s live power (which ultimately took it’s toll on Bruce Dickinson….). Phenomenal album. From the opening 1-2 punch of straight-up tunes Aces High/2 Minutes to the labyrinth prog-licious Rime Of The Ancient Mariner to the punk riot of Iron Maiden, it’s a classic album on every level from artwork to songs to… just everything!
And then I heard there was a video……
So Christmas rolls around (again I forget the year but I *think* this would be Christmas 1987) and low and behold I unwrap one particular present to find this in my hands:
Needless to say that was it for me as far as my Maiden fandom, there was no turning back now. The visuals that I had created in my head from the album sleeve(s) was nothing compared to what I was seeing. Dickinson bounding around the stage with more energy than a battery factory, Harris mouthing the words to every song (something that still makes me smile to this day; that man IS Maiden to the core), to Murray’s “unusual” mouth shapes during his solo, the enormity of Nicko’s kit and the ever cool and restrained Smith and not forgetting Eddie, all combined to stun, amaze and excite my tiny mind. It still does to this day, I get goosebumps when the video starts.
Iron Maiden were my entry into metal really. A year or 2 later there would be other bands some of which will become the focus for entries like this. But until then, here is some prime Maiden for ya.
*Apparently the artwork we all know and love was version #2. Full story here.