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Iron Maiden again
Somewhere In Time (continued)
In 2006 I saw Metallica play their seminal album ‘Master of Puppets’ in its entirety. It was the twentieth anniversary of that influential release. Slayer have performed ‘Reign in Blood’ as a whole on several tours. The 2020s are seeing a retro-revival, with the likes of Kate Bush, Metallica, and even Creedance Clearwater Revival seeing upticks in their music streams due to the advent of services like Tik-Tok, and soundtracks in Netflix shows. Retro-ism in music always gets it’s day and can revive the fortunes of various music artists. Paul Weller had his revival in the early 90s which you can read about here in this edition of This Week in the 90s. This is a brilliant blog, by the way and you should subscribe if you already haven’t.
Iron Maiden went through some awkward times in the 90s (as did many classic metal bands). Grunge, Alt-Rock, and later Nu-Metal became the mode de riguer of heavy music.
In 2000, Iron Maiden reformed with a line-up that hasn’t changed since. Now a six piece (with 3 lead guitar players), their comeback album ‘Brave New World’ was unapologetically Maiden. It was over the top, had tunes about the occult, sci-fi, and epic historical events. It was a bit like 1986’s ‘Somewhere In Time’ in that respect.
‘Somewhere In Time’ is a highly regarded release by the Irons. However it doesn’t seem to get included in the same bracket as ‘Piece Of Mind’, ‘The Number of the Beast’, or ‘Powerslave’. As I mentioned in the previous post, the making of the album was fraught with tension. Bruce Dickinson’s lyrics were discarded, and guitar player Adrian Smith proved his writing chops with the classic ‘Wasted Years’. What about the rest of the album?
The (kinda) title track is a Heavy Metal classic. It’s got Steve Harris lyrics, duelling guitars, galloping bass and drums. Dickinson gives the vocals the full treatment especially on the soaring chorus.
The aforementioned ‘Wasted Years’ written by Adrian Smith is not just one of the bands classics, I’d actually say it is one of the greatest Metal songs of all time. I could go an and gush about this song more, but instead I’d advise you to check out the below video. Anyone familiar with bands disliking lip-syncing may be family with Nirvana’s famous Top of the Pops performance where they ripped the piss out of their performance. Well, Iron Maiden did it first on German tv back in the 80s. Check it out below:
‘Sea of Madness’ is a fast paced rocker. It’s the second track on the album penned entirely by Adrian Smith. Bruce Dickinson has room with the lyrics to inject some pathos into a tune about losing your mind.
Like many songs written by Steve Harris, this tune is long. At over seven minutes long, it showcases the duelling lead guitars that is Maiden’s signature sound. It also has a head-banging bridge that leads into a classic ‘Whoa - oh oh’ singalong when played live.
Michael Stipe of REM once said that he could sing the yellow pages and make people cry. If that’s true then Bruce Dickinson could sing the yellow pages and make it sound like the most epic thing ever. This song seems to be quite literally about running a long way, but delivered by Bruce it’s a gripping, emotive, epic.
Adrian Smith again. This album has his signature all over it. This track has nothing to do with the famous Heinlein novel of the same name. It’s a story about an explorer who is trapped in ice for a hundred years and finds himself revived in a world he is disconnected from. It’s a mid-tempo song by Maiden standards and Smith’s guitar solo is one of the greatest in Heavy Metal history.
Written by Steve Harris and guitar player Dave Murray, this is a short and simple Maiden track. It’s wonderfully to the point and melodic. In a way it is comfortingly familiar and sounds like a lot of other Maiden songs that came later. Which is ironic given the title.
The first time Iron Maiden played this song live was on May 28th, 2023 in Ljubljana, Slovenia. I caught it live in Dublin, Ireland around a month later. It’s a magical Metal epic. It may seem strange that it took the Irons 37 years to play it live, until you remember they have one of the largest back catalogues in Metal history.
The album is also notable for its artwork by work renowned artist Derek Riggs. The album cover itself features a cyberpunk Eddie and backdrop. It’s also famous for the many ‘Easter eggs’ that you may spot if you’re a diehard Iron Maiden fan.
I’ll leave you with the cover of the ‘Stranger in a Strange Land’ single cover art, which merges the cyberpunk theme with that of the Wild West.
In the next post we’ll be taking a break from the seemingly male dominated aspects of Metal and take a look at some amazing Metal musicians and vocalists who also happen to be women.