Here I go again…it’s time for me to talk about one of my favourite subjects. If I were ever to be on Mastermind (yeah right!), my chosen subject would have to be Iron Maiden. The first reason as I’ve been into them for bloomin’ years, but mainly because I don’t know anything about anything else.
Well, this week see’s Iron Maiden’s most famous of albums turn 30. Released on the 22nd of March, 1982, ‘The Number of the Beast’ was Iron Maiden’s breakthrough album. It saw their status change from popular UK rock band to a world-beating metal freight train that’s has not stopped ever since.
Their third album proper sounded a lot more like the Iron Maiden of today than the first two efforts. This can mainly be attributed to the recruitment of one Mr Bruce Dickenson on vocals. Pinched from fellow New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Samson, Bruce Bruce as he was known back then would change the lead singer blueprint in metal forever. Sometimes known as the air-raid siren, Bruce was vastly different to the Punk style Maiden’s previous singer (Paul Di’anno) adopted.
Bruce’s wider capabilities as a singer allowed the band to write a much broader range of songs which gave ‘The Number of the Beast’ that extra something compared to earlier releases. Most importantly, Iron Maiden were able to write anthems that would stick around forever.
The two singles were ‘Number of the Beast’ and the galloping timeless brilliance of ‘Run to the Hills’ but the album as a whole is just perfection. ’22 Acacia Avenue’ was a nod back to the older Iron Maiden stuff, resuming the story of Charlotte the Harlot. ‘Children of the Damned’ is the only real slow number but works a treat and ‘The Prisoner’ and the famously unfinished ‘Gangland’ (they forgot to put the second solo in it) can hardly be called filler. The star of the show is album closer ‘Hallowed be thy Name’. Over seven minutes of Maiden at their best, it tells the story of a man on his way to the gallows and was the first of many future epics in the catalogue. The original may just be the finest however…
The album artwork is hardly worth discussing. The image of Eddie and the Devil pulling each other’s strings is virtually synonymous with Heavy Metal itself. Another Derek Riggs classic and one of the most famous album cover in the rock world.
If you’ve never listened to this album all the way through, then I would urge you to do it now! It’s no good just listening to ‘Run to the Hills’ on Spotify while you’re updating your status. This album needs to be played from start to finish through some good speakers to be appreciated. Vinyl if possible, but I’ll let you off with a CD.
So there you go, forty minutes of British metal at its very best, it is unlikely to be surpassed and will always be a stone cold classic for as long as heavy music exists. Have a listen this weekend and have a beer for Eddie!