Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son – Iron Maiden

This is playing as I write this and also while I composed the previous communication. I guess I have to start somewhere and as a spotty teenager I was descending into Heavy Metal. This was the first Iron Maiden album to be released while I was a fan. Everything else was just catch up, I missed the live released of Somewhere In Time, which gets reviewed soon I guess. My mum bought me this album from out of nowhere. She just came home one day and gave it too me – this was quite strange for my mum.

For me this takes me back to being a fifteen year old and soaking up all the atmosphere and myth behind this album. I would spend ages looking at the artwork, reading the lyrics and trying to figure out what it all meant. This was Maiden’s seventh studio album and it was their first “concept” album. I guess you write a concept album once you’ve been around the block a bit. You’ve got a solid fan base and you try something new. This album is based around the story of the seventh son of a seventh son who is meant to have magic powers.

So, this was the second album with keyboards which for Metal is wrong but that’s not really a worry. If it adds to the song then it’s fine. I think my biggest problem is that the guitar work isn’t that clear. I don’t like the sound of the guitars on this and “Somewhere”. It’s all rather vague. Maybe it’s a product of the time, new sounds, new effects, trying something different, but for me it just doesn’t work. Don’t get me wrong, this is an amazing album and should be rated somewhere near the top but there’s something “missing” for me.

My first concert attended was Iron Maiden on their Seventh Tour. Seeing the band at Wembley Arena was amazing and the set amazed me. It was an amazing first gig. Songs from this album featured heavily as you would expect and I loved it.

  • Moonchild – A good concert opener.
  • Infinite Dreams – I always found this to be quite a romantic song.
  • Can I Play With Madness – not great.
  • The Evil That Men Do – Good but not as good as they think it is.
  • Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son – A tour de force, hints of Rime but still good.
  • The Prophecy – I think this could be my new favourite on this re-listening.
  • The Clairvoyant – Another classic, it’s OK.
  • Only The Good Die Young – Pretty good.

Powerslave – Iron Maiden

Well, what can I say? I’m pretty sure I first listened to this after I had poured over the detail in Live After Death. There’s something remarkably clean about a studio album once you’ve digested the live version. My experience with Megadeth recently went the other way, the live version from Argentina made me revisit all the songs with a fresh perspective.

I used to spend time as a teenager lovingly looking over the album covers of the Iron Maiden albums trying to memorise every detail. The Powerslave album is one of the best covers I have ever seen, maybe Somewhere In Time comes close but I really enjoy the colours of the Powerslave cover.


The body bags and little rags of children torn in two,
And the jellied brains of those who remain to put the finger right on you

Adrian Smith & Bruce Dickinson
  • Aces High – continuing the theme of Empire and the greatness of Britain this song extolls the virtues of the Few who defended our island whatever the cost may be. A great song even if the over-arching themes of this East End band are tired and colonial.
  • Two Minutes To Midnight – well crafted and one of the best. It’s written by Adrian Smith you see and that adds a certain level of clever to it. I’ve been fortunate enough to play this on stage with a bunch of better musicians.
  • Losfer Words – it’s an instrumental. It’s ok.
  • Flash Of The Blade – I guess it’s Bruce harking back to his upper class hobby of fencing. To be honest it’s a good song. Proper Maiden.
  • The Duellists – is an OK song over-shadowed by the rest of the album. Another Maiden song about fighting for things I don’t understand.
  • Back In The Village – The opening riff of this is amazing and I love it. The whole song is a return the the Prisoner theme of earlier tunes. It’s pretty good.
  • Powerslave – Everything about this song is amazing but [oddly] my favourite bit is the end. THIS is how you write the end to a song. Fuck all you who use fade out. Write a proper ending.
  • Rime Of The Ancient Mariner – It’s over thirteen minutes long but doesn’t really feel like it. I mean the opening riff sounds like The Flight Of Icarus but the rest of it chugs along giving all the time.

The top songs on this album are: 2 Minutes and Powerslave followed by Aces High and Back In The Village, although the field is crowded. Go and listen to this album. It’ll burn your soul [well, it won’t will it but you can claim such].

Piece Of Mind – Iron Maiden

I’m pretty sure I got this album after I had listened to a taped version of Live After Death. I don’t think I actually owned the live album, just a version that Mark Hodges had taped for me. I’ve bought it many times over since then though, on vinyl, on VHS and CD. But, we are here to talk about this album: Piece Of Mind.

You can’t help but love Iron Maiden. There’s that cheeky photograph on the back of the album with the band about to tuck into a medieval banquet of brains, there’s the “Britishness” [which those who know me will understand I struggle with] and there’s the public school boy humour from Bruce.

The rock and roll rules mean that if you change a band member they get to start the next release with an intro part. And thus begins Piece Of Mind with Nicko McBrain blatting out a drumming introduction to the rocking along “Where Eagles Dare”, which if I had ever really listened to the lyrics is probably a song about the second world war film about something or another.

“Revelations” is a fucking great song, so beautiful and lyrical. The worst thing is that stupid “Go” that Bruce shouts in the middle and when I first heard this song from the album I laughed at that point and I still do chuckle to myself. This song is better on Live After Death, it has a little more speed and a roughness to it. The album version is a little over-produced. I’ve just read that it was influenced by Aleister Crowley which is pretty annoying but I still like the song.

“The Flight Of Icarus” is boring and I don’t really like it. I mean, it’s a good song, I just don’t like it. The live version is a little drab too. The riff structure feels a lot like Mariner from the Powerslave album, it’s just the opening couple of beats that tell them apart!

“Die With Your Boots On” is a good song, well done live. But in reality this middle aged man struggles with the message of jolly good old bashing the enemy and dying on the field.

“The Trooper” a tour de force about another bloody battle the Brits got tangled up in. Nothing like bashing on about the glorious times. It’s a good song though. I think I’m just struggling with the jingoism and battle cry of it all.

“Still Life” has some excellent hi-hat action and it makes me excited.

“Quest For Fire” is ok.

“Sun and Steel” I like the riff and chorus structure. I like it all. It’s quite pop like in structure but I do enjoy it.

“To Tame A Land” is a good song but I think it struggles from being the last track on side two of the album and so I’ve played it little. It might be something to do with those pesky books by Frank Herbert.

Go and buy Live After Death rather than this. It’s a more powerful statement.

Maiden England ’88 – Iron Maiden

Honestly, I bought this a few years back because it’s a recording of the first concert I went to. Except it isn’t. I saw Maiden on 10th December 1988 at Wembley Arena and it was spectacular. This recording is them at the NEC in Birmingham. I think I’ve played it once.

Live After Death – Iron Maiden

In this ongoing slow series of album reviews we have reached all those that begin with “Live”. So we now get an eclectic mix of albums recorded live although I don’t think we will cover the best live album, which is probably No Sleep ‘Till Hammersmith by Motorhead. I’m not sure how long this project is going to take. This series of communications started on 29 April 2013 and it’s nearly six years later and my music tastes have moved on. This list doesn’t include any albums I’ve purchased since 2013 and there’s a whole new genre to explore and explain. Anyway, onto Live After Death.

This album ROCKS. The gatefold sleeve was amazing and the images convinced me that Iron Maiden could put on a show. Even though all these songs are live and so will be individually reviewed elsewhere in this site this probably deserves some of its own mentions. This double album was recorded in Long Beach Arena and Hammersmith Odeon. Just the idea of having a job where you play an arena in California seemed amazing to me as a teenager. Of course, I also bought the video and watched it over and over.

I’m reasonably sure that W.A.S.P.s Live In The Raw was recorded on the same tour and that album is pretty amazing too. They supported Iron Maiden.

One of the appeals of this music is that it scares your parents. It’s a way of rebelling. It’s new and for you only. While at the same time being what all your mates listen to as well. You don’t want your parents to like this stuff and you want to make that break of the parental bond and music is one way of doing that. Before I was ten I grew up on a diet of ABBA and Jean Michel Jarre. While this is not bad music, I’d even say it’s bloody good, it wasn’t what I was after. I’ve talked about my descent into metal elsewhere and so will save you that story.

Iron Maiden had a monster on their album covers and the detail in the artwork was incredible. We all liked trying to find some new part of the image that no-one else had seen just to stand out, just to impress and show how much we concentrated on the art. Then there’s the stories of devil worship and Satan. The idea that this music was evil itself. I mean that’s bullshit but the puritanical press loved ranting about how this music was ruining the mind of children. The dying age of stiff-upper-lip and backward-repression of feelings and conformism was breaking as a new generation found their feet and wanted to make their mark. This happens all the time. I look at it now and think that I am just not that fussed by the new music. I have my niche and am happy to stick in it.

I think the bigger problem might be that trying to convince me your are weird or different is going to take some doing. I’ve been there and see it all. I’m still part of this counter-culture. I still go to club nights which would be considered “seedy” and rebellious. I mix with people whose day jobs are professional but who live in the boundary of conformism as we struggle to fit in to everyday society. What I do know about this culture is that I’ve never met an idiot or arsehole. Everyone seems to appreciate everyone else and people don’t make judgments. The society is more tolerant by definition and it survives and thrives because of that. It’s a microcosm of a better world where people are treated with respect and trust.

Back to this album. It kinda works on a sense of patriotism and harking back to the good times when Spitfires ruled the air and Britain worked to defeat evil [not my choice of words really and I struggle with the idea that the state can ask me to die for the state]. We start with Churchill’s fight them on the beaches speech with the sound of Rolls Royce engines in the background and BLAM – Aces High blasts out from the speakers.

After that we get one of my favourite Iron Maiden songs, Two Minutes To Midnight and its anti-war message. The lyrics in this astound me.

The body bags and little rags of children torn in two
And the jellied brains of those who remain to put the finger right on you

These aren’t nice lyrics, they aren’t meant to be. They also don’t glorify war in the way that the popular press might have you believe about metal and heavy rock. It’s a song against war.

The Trooper is a classic. Along with Revelations I heard this album before I had Piece Of Mind. The live version of Revelations is better than the studio version by a long way. Again, lyrically it’s amazing.

The Flight Of Icarus is boring.

Rime Of The Ancient Mariner is a good song and deliberately long. It build the atmosphere for the whole song and comes crashing down at the end.

Powerslave I love. A brilliant song and a masterpiece in how to end a piece of music. I’ve always felt that fading a song out is a lazy way of ending a song but I don’t think you can get better than the last two minutes of this song as a way of exploring how to finish a masterpiece.

All the other songs are from the first three albums and by default are the best that Maiden have to offer.

Number Of The Beast, Hallowed Be Thy Name [at about 150 bpm], Iron Maiden, Run To The Hills [a song explaining the mas slaughter of native Americans by white men], and then finally Running Free with its extra long audience participation which Dickinson manages with sheer aplomb.

The only problem with this album is that Sanctuary isn’t on it. But you can get it elsewhere. This is a stunner of a show.

Iron Maiden – Iron Maiden

This is the next draft in my list but I’m not sure I’ve completed all the Is before this one. However, I don’t care. This album is SEMINAL.

There’s a communication somewhere here called Descent into Metal. I’m not sure if this album appears but I still rate this as the second best Iron Maiden album after Killers. I love the raw sound, the anger and the power behind this album. It’s brilliant.

Prowler – awesome
Remember Tomorrow – shivers down my spine
Running Free – YEAH!
Phantom Of The Opera – Lucozade advert anyone? plus tempo changes and harmonies!

 

 

Transylvania – incredible instrumental
Strange World – mysterious magic
Charlotte The Harlot – what you gonna do?
Iron Maiden – Marvellous.

My CD version also has Sanctuary on it which is a super song. Just brilliant.

Now, I’m not known as a wordsmith, far from it. Hence this communication doesn’t quite match my emotional relationship with this album. I have listened to these songs since I was 14 or 15 and I still think it’s a great album.

Brave New World – Iron Maiden

This is probably the last “new” album by Iron Maiden that I bought. There were some duff ones from “Fear of the Dark” and I gave up for a while. I’m not really sure why I got this but it may have been to do with seeing them at Earl’s Court Arena.

This album opens with “The Wicker Man” which is a good song and classic, it has nice pace and rocks along. “Ghost of the Navigator”, “Brave New World”, “Blood Brothers” are all good songs. After that I start to lose interest in the album. I think that, perhaps, the Maiden sound only takes me so far now.

Overall, this is a good album. It’s not like the first seven studio albums but it is good. My main issue with Maiden at the moment is Jannick Gers. The band doesn’t need three guitarists. Mind you, I’m very much looking forward to seeing them at Download this year [probably because they are playing all the old stuff].

Excited

Very excited. I just bought my ticket for Download 2013. It’s a heavy metal festival held at Donington Park somewhere in the midlands. Now, I’m not a great fan of festivals and in all reality this will be my first, but, what a beauty it is going to be. I am going with my mate as it is his 40th birthday near to then and this seems to be the perfect way to celebrate.

First things first. I can’t go on the Friday as I have to work. So that means I am going to miss Slipknot. This is not a bad thing. I really am not bothered about seeing them. I will be travelling on the Saturday morning and then returning at a god-awful hour on the Sunday night / monday morning to head into work.

Headlining on the Saturday are IRON MAIDEN. This is good news as they were the first band I ever saw also the birthday boy was there for that one too. That was in 1988 and they were on the “7th Tour of a 7th Tour” tour. What makes this festival rather special is that they are going to be playing pretty much the same set as on that tour. It originally was filmed and released as the “Maiden England” video and I have a copy of that somewhere. Seeing Iron Maiden pretty much play the same set list as I saw 24/5 years ago is going to be brilliant. None of the new stuff will be played which is good as I’ve never really listened to anything recorded by them past about 1990!

On the Sunday the German industrial metal band RAMMSTEIN are going to be playing. This is also a good thing. I saw them a couple of years ago at Wembley Arena and they were brilliant. I am so looking forward to seeing them play again.

The headliners are making me sweat just thinking about it. I am very much looking forward to seeing the rest of the line up released. With a bit of luck Combichrist will be on there with, let’s say, Wolfsbane or the almighty for some real 80s throwback stuff.