There’s not many metal fans who are unaware of the legendary history or status of Iron Maiden, but back 1979, they were merely a band striving for some footing in the music business and solid recognition; they didn’t have the mega albums or singles and definitely hadn’t thought about Flight 666. They were fortunate enough to build a dedicated following through countless pub touring, and their underground approach netted them a respectable reaction to their first release, in April 1980, hence marking the 2020 with a 40-anniversary of the self-titled album. The sound that one hears on this release is vastly different from the more well-known albums ‘Number of the Beast’ or ‘Piece of Mind’, and due mainly to a rawer sound, thanks to production values, inexperience, and most-notable the singer, in the beginning it was Paul Di’Anno, who had a punk-music background and his rougher vocals would let him hit the higher register like their current vocalist Bruce Dickinson. This review will be about the album and not between the two singers.
The album begins with the track “Prowler”, that displays a raw sound which will carry over into other songs it allows for great leads and solid vocals and displays a ton of raw energy that the band carries throughout the album. Next is Steve Harris’ noteworthy bass intro to “Remember Tomorrow” it allows Paul to perform his softer tone and few long holding notes too, perhaps his most diverse showing on the record; while the music starts slow, by the middle that the tempo changes (there’s a few of them) but gives Dennis Stratton a great guitar highlight. The third track is likely the top choice by many Maiden fans, “Running Free” Paul contributed to the lyrics on this track and the one before it, it marks their first single, a simplistic musical track, opening with a steady drumming from Clive Burr (RIP) before everyone joins in, complete with a sing-along chorus, it hooks the listeners quickly. “Phantom of the Opera,” pushes Di’Anno to his max levels, an epic song that Paul struggles to keep together in the slow sections, but it’s the musicians that really carry the track, with highlights given to everyone. This song gives great insight to what Harris wanted for the band to strive for, and they did, complicated and longer songs that energized both music and the band too. Their first instrumental “Transylvania” rounds out the fifth song, it features the phenomenal drumming of Clive and the others play a blazing rhythmic track and relentless in style and pacing. Paul belts out emotional lyrics on “Strange World” his style matches that of the second song, the song at times is just above a ballad, it perhaps is very light, compared to many Maiden tracks of today, but Harris likely wanted diversity on the album, appealing to everyone, the unhampered riffs, it’s not bad just allows the listener to become lost in the solo at 3:18 mark. “Charlotte the Harlot” marks the seventh track, and returns to a more upbeat quicken song, and suddenly at the 1:34 mark the tempo changes greatly, slowing everything down, and ode to love, then at 2:48 the music becomes feverish faster returning to that of the opening of the song. The final track is of course, Iron Maiden, is a fun song, another sing-along chorus, raw, heavy, and the lyrics clearly stating the intention of them, emphasizing it won’t be the last time you’ll hear from them.
Phantom of the opera
Charlotte the Harlot
Dennis Stratton – Guitars, Vocals (backing)
Steve Harris – Bass, Vocals (backing)
Dave Murray – Guitars
Paul Di’Anno – Vocals
Clive Burr (RIP 2013) – Drums
If one recalls Iron Maiden’s first five albums, noting one each year, and incredible string of masterpieces: Iron Maiden (1980), Killers (1981), The Number of the Beast (1982), Piece of Mind (1983), and Powerslave (1984), which have been released countless times, also known that in the 1995 version they added the song “Sanctuary”, clearly showing their enduring lasting strength. Some might consider this record as dated but that rawness defined them, while their melodies and arrangements grew more complex, it also introduced the band’s mascot Eddie, from artist Derek Riggs who also did the cover art, continued with that until 2013. Sadly, Clive needed to leave the band, and On March 12, 2013 he died due to complications with Multiple Sclerosis.
Baron’s Rating: 4.0/5.0
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