IRON MAIDEN – The Debut
Iron Maiden almost 40 years old and is the debut studio album by classic English heavy metal band Iron Maiden. It was released on 14 April 1980 in the United Kingdom by EMI Records and in the United States by Harvest and Capitol Records. It launched the career of one of the most successful metal bands of all time, who have sold a staggering 100 million+ records worldwide.
Although Iron Maiden have since been critical of the quality of the album’s production, the release was met with artistic and commercial success. The record peaked at number four on the UK Chart and helped the band achieve a great following in mainland Europe.
The album received immediate critical acclaim on its release. Geoff Barton, in Sounds, hailed it as “Heavy Metal for the ’80s“. Iron Maiden spent an initial fifteen weeks on the UK chart. It also spent a further two on the charts when it was reissued on EMI‘s budget subsidiary Fame in 1985.
The album has continued to receive praise from reviewers. AllMusic proclaimed that it “would still rank as a landmark even if the Dickinson years had never happened.” The site also said that there was “no better place to hear how both punk and prog rock informed the new wave of British heavy metal.“
Before Dickinson, there was Di’Anno. Paul Di’Anno was not the first vocalist for Iron Maiden, but he was the first to record with the band. Bandleader Steve Harris stated at the time that, “There’s sort of a quality in Paul’s voice, a raspiness in his voice, or whatever you want to call it, that just gave it this great edge.” Certainly, the two iconic vocalists were very different, but Di’Anno suited the early punky edge to the band.
The debut album was produced by Wil Malone. However, the band claimed that he left it up to them to produce and this may explain why the early versions of the record were rather muddy in the mix. The 2015 remaster cleaned up the sound, but it still remains one of the most bass-driven releases of Iron Maiden‘s career. From the outset, the bass playing of Harris dominates the sonics and makes it sound significantly different from later releases. “Prowler” pounces out of the speakers and attacks your jugular with ferocious intent. Tight and focused, the band and have an energy that dangerously increases your blood pressure.
The whole album rushes by in around 37 minutes. It has classic tracks such as “Phantom Of The Opera” and “Running Free” and it has one or two missteps. I am not a huge fan of “Transylvania“. It drags down the energy and I have some reservations over “Strange World.” However, the record holds up extremely well for forty years ago. Maiden have gone on to record better collections (such as Powerslave), but this debut is up there with the best.
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