Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Iron Maiden Top 10 #1

Welcome back music lovers you are in for a little bit of a swerve today! So I've talked about classic rock and pop but did you ever think I would discuss...heavy metal? Well I am and talking about the kings of heavy metal Iron Maiden. The reason why is because I have been in a relationship for ten years now with one of the biggest Iron Maiden fans boyfriend Nathan. He is basically the male equivalent to me being a huge Heart fan with both of us around the same age but the difference is he liked Heart before we met and until then...I had never listened to Iron Maiden at all. I suppose I was one of those people thrown off by all the imagery which depicted the band's mascot Eddie in sometimes horrific and disturbing images but for me it was kind of like the horror section having posters close to the children's section in a video store (which ironically the one from my childhood did!)

If you went in to rent Care Bear movies and saw something like this you'd freak out too!

Anyways, I guess I always assumed metal was too harsh for mt almost poppy, music listening self until I met Nathan. After listening to countless hours of Maiden in his car on various dates and outings, I've discovered that Iron Maiden is basically just hard and classic rock amped up to a louder level but that the musical compositions are superb and the lyrical content is based on literature, mythology, religion and history which doesn't surprise me because well...they are British! Take it from me (as I said I am predominantly a pop listener and soft rock fanatic among my few classic rock loves) if I can enjoy listening to Iron Maiden, you few naysayers out there can too! So because I love my man and the band he loves, I thought I would share the songs by Iron Maiden I have come to enjoy. So to start this first Iron Maiden Top 10 is a song from the album that came out around the time Nathan and I started getting to know each other...

#10. Paschendale from the album Dance Of Death

Written about a battle during the first World War in Belgium between soldiers from many countries, it basically tells about the brutality of death and war that men even as young as eighteen had to face for many months. I kind of like how Iron Maiden songs are like long ballads of old told like a saga that stretches for pages but instead is musically equivalent to songs of seven minutes or more. The opening is slow and melodic and then just erupts into drums and guitars like an arsenal of gunfire but then we end the same way we began and the tale is finished almost as if with great remorse for those who died many years ago.

#9. Phantom Of The Opera from the album Iron Maiden

Being blessed with a boyfriend who has a lot of music in his collection it's no wonder I can go back to Iron Maiden's first album and find something to enjoy. The first two Iron Maiden albums had Paul Di'Anno as lead vocalist before Bruce Dickinson made his vocal appearance to the world and this happens to be one of my favorites on the band's debut album. Now with a title called Phantom Of The Opera, I am of course hooked but for you ladies out there it is not about the romanticized version this is about the grisly original Phantom presented in Gaston Leroux's original novel and the one seen on movie screens portrayed by Lon Chaney: a sadistic, psychotic madman who tortures his victims even with persuasive, Svengali charm. I have to admit I'm very partial to Bruce Dickinson but Paul Di'Anno isn't half bad especially on this song but if you want a lot of guitar you are going to get just be careful of all the rhythm changes and especially that little musical stinger at the end. First time I listened to it in my car I wasn't expecting it and jumped about a mile in my seat (well at least my version ends like that...)

#8. Wrathchild from the album Killers

Another one from the Di'Anno era that I enjoy and it has one of the best bass riffs I have ever heard! I'm pretty sure Bruce has tackled this in live shows but honestly I can't picture him singing it...Paul's vocals seem to fit the almost rebellious tone of the song where as Dickinson's vocals always sound more mature and fit the almost storytelling elements of future Iron Maiden songs. My interpretation of the lyrics are basically an angry young man going out in search of the father he has never known. Of course being an early Iron Maiden song, I don't see the young man wanting to reconcile with his father amid hugs and tears but probably among blows and blood! You see he's a bastard born not out of love but by necessity I guess for his queenly mother to have an heir but he has been raised in barbaric circumstance to become well...a child of wrath. I love when things are pointed out so easily by a song's title but can still be viewed by the listener's own perspective...that's good music!

#7. Holy Smoke from the album No Prayer For The Dying

I think every once in awhile an artist can't go with out making some sort of statement on religion or politics in the lyrics of at least one of their songs but I've never seen it expressed in such a manner as they way it is in this song! It's pretty much Steve Harris and Bruce Dickinson's writing about the televangelism that swept the late 80s and early 90s and produced a lot of scandals with people sending money to men who claimed to be doing the Lord's work but couldn't keep the money out of their pockets or keep some of these religious hypocrites from keeping it in their pants! The subject matter of the song is right on but the video is just so much fun! Who knew a band with an undead mascot seen killing people with axes could have their lead singer running through fields of yellow flowers and still be taken seriously? Only Iron Maiden that's who! 

#6. The Wicker Man from the album Brave New World

Before you it has nothing to do with the movie starring Nicholas Cage! This song is actually based on the original (and better film) from 1973 starring Christopher Lee but is actually based in fact on Celtic mythology. You see a Wicker Man was supposedly burned with a human sacrifice inside to please Pagan harvest gods in Druid rituals and the lyrics basically describe the woe of a person being chosen as the one to be set ablaze within. As I stated earlier, Iron Maiden songs are based on many truths and epic tales of lore so it's like getting a History or English lesson in every kick-ass song! I stand by this being kick-ass from that intro, to the almost primal sound of the drums and the chanting toward the end certainly evokes an ancient ritual despite being so modern.

#5. Aces High from the album Powerslave

Another history lesson brought to you by Iron Maiden as the song is about a British Air Force pilot during the Battle of Britain in World War II going against the Germans in their own aircraft. I think more parents should actually let their kids listen to Iron Maiden because it may be the only way they retain any knowledge about famous battles or at least make them want to actually pick up these things called books and read about them! I have feeling that in the future this is probably how Nathan and I are going to have our children educated so I'm not far off...

#4. The Number Of The Beast from the album of the same name

You know it's probably because of this song and the album art of Eddie that made me kind of leery of giving Iron Maiden a chance but don't forget that in the 80s I was just a little kid and in the 90s I was molded by pop music. I'm pretty sure if I had been interested in Iron Maiden then my parents would not have cared as long as I didn't play it loud enough to disturb them. In 1982 this caused Iron Maiden to get a lot of flack from religious groups deeming them Satanists but don't forget these were the same types of people Holy Smoke was later written about and that people also thought that Stevie Nicks was really a witch *scoffs*. Steve Harris said he wrote this song after having a nightmare caused by a late night viewing of Damien: Omen II and if you look at the lyrics it backs up that story. This was one of the song's debuting Bruce Dickinson as the new voice of the band and I have to say I don't think any other vocalist could match his vocal power today or even then! My favorite part is the opening with the spoken word intro quoting the Bible and then going into that great guitar opening before we get to hear Bruce in all his glory letting out those awesome metal screams!

#3. Flight Of Icarus from the album Piece Of Mind

Now for those of you who are going "Who the heck is Icarus?" brief lesson in Greek myths: Icarus was the son of an inventor who made them wings of feather and wax to escape imprisonment on an island but the boy flew too close to the sun and well...that's it really. Now Bruce Dickinson's vocal and the lyrics he wrote along with Adrian Smith have Icarus more or less rebelling  against his father instead by claiming he can actually fly in the name of God and being basically burnt to ash by his arrogance and pride.Again it's the opening guitar riffs that bring you in so basically you come for the mastery of Smith and Murray and then stay for the theatrical vocals of Dickinson or vice versa which ever way you prefer...

#2. The Evil That Men Do from the album Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son

I'm not going to lie to you even after hearing this song a thousand times (it's one of Nathan's most played on long road trips) and even reading the lyrics for myself I can't even conceive what the song is about...kind of a first for me! All I know is repetitive listening to that opening gets it stuck in my head and I mean just hearing it live is good enough reason to like it! Usually I'm like a compendium of knowledge or literary subtext but this time I've got's just an awesome song!

Just like this is just an awesome not as terrifying picture of Eddie...

Despite my lack of reasoning for #2 ...I think I have a pretty good list made up so far don't you think? Now my number one choice for this particular list is probably only known to the most die hard fans and collector of all things Iron Maiden. It's so high on the list because well it was actually one of the first songs that introduced me to the band thanks to my boyfriend on our first date. So just what is it?

#1. That Girl (B-Side to Stranger In A Strange Land from the album Somewhere In Time)

Now this song was not written by any member of Iron's a cover of a song by a British Rock band FM from back in 1986. One of the songwriters just happened to be friends with Maiden guitarist Adrian Smith so I guess that's eventually how it ended up being a B-side. Now I admit I probably got hooked to this song and ended up liking Iron maiden because the song doesn't really scream metal to me or at least it didn't to my 21 year old self. I do love the driving guitar through out the song and the vocals of Dickinson and his band mates are very nicely performed with a signature Bruce Dickinson long note held out toward the end. So of course I can spot romantic symbolism in lyrics a mile away and since no member of the band actually wrote this song I can call it a power ballad of sorts. I mean it is about a girl or specifically that one girl a young man can't live without. He'll fight evil for her, die for her and in return she'll be loyal in return and perhaps sacrifice her life for him in return if it ever came to it. As I said it means something to me and is kind of symbolic of my own relationship (at least from my point of view...I can't say much about what my boyfriend thinks about it.) so that's why I will probably place this as one of my highest favorite songs ever recorded by Iron Maiden.

So I hope you enjoyed taking a look at the Iron Maiden songs I like for this list and don't fret...I'll be back with more in the future. If you learned not to judge a book by its cover with me then who knows what you can expect next time!

Don't worry...Eddie always comes back...

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