Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden

Raw Power Records, 1980

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Not too long ago, I finally bit the bullet and updated all of my old Iron Maiden records to the enhanced CD versions... undoubtedly meaning you'll see me hocking the records on eBay soon. But going through these discs, I realized that we've done one thing wrong here in the Pierce Memorial Archives. In the four-plus years that "The Daily Vault" has been running, we've completely covered the Blaze Bayley era of Iron Maiden, and we've taken a look at a pretty significant chunk of the Bruce Dickinson era.

But Iron Maiden existed before these two singers ever stepped into the roles... and the one vocalist who we've neglected to talk about has been the original lead throat, Paul Di'Anno. Iron Maiden, the band's 1980 full-length debut (originally released on Capitol here in the United States), tries to capture the spirit of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, but is undermined by two main factors. We'll talk about those in a moment.

Yes, this disc is the one which introduced the head-banging masses to tracks like "Sanctuary," "Running Free" and "Iron Maiden," songs which still are concert favorites sure to get everyone standing on their seats. Yes, this is the disc which features early crowd favorites like "Phantom Of The Opera" and "Charlotte The Harlot" - the latter a concept continued on "22 Acacia Avenue". But this still isn't my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 classic Iron Maiden... and the fault isn't with Di'Anno.

Admittedly, Di'Anno's vocals aren't the most powerful of the bands that were slugging it out at the start of the decade, but he does occasionally show some admirable range, as on "Remember Tomorrow" and "Phantom Of The Opera". Was Di'Anno the best singer for Maiden? In retrospect, the answer would be no, but he hardly embarassed himself or the band on this disc.

The problem with Iron Maiden is twofold. The first real weakness is in the production work of Will Malone, who just doesn't seem to know what to do with the sonic bombast that was thrown his way. As a result, the overall sound of the album (even on the remastered version) never shows the full power of what Iron Maiden was capable of doing. (That problem would be resolved one album later with the hiring of Martin Birch as knob-tweaker.)

The second problem is in the guitar work. I don't know if Dennis Stratton is fully to blame, but more often than not, it seems like the guitar work isn't nearly as crunchy as people have come to expect from Iron Maiden. Listen to "Remember Tomorrow," and listen to the light rhythm lines during the verses for an example. This album did not show the power that the guitar section of the band had - and still has. (Incidentally, the producer's chair was not the only role changed one album later; Stratton would leave Iron Maiden, to be replaced by Adrian Smith.)

For all of this, Iron Maiden is not a terrible album. The songs which everyone grew up with are still fun to listen to, and it is occasionally interesting to go back in the band's history to hear how they got started. (One minor quibble, though: As a special bonus for the fans, couldn't either Iron Maiden or Raw Power have gotten the rights to include the songs from The Soundhouse Tapes? C'mon, kids are spending a fortune on bootlegged copies just to have these early recordings.)

If you're into Iron Maiden and would like to rediscover the band's roots, their debut is definitely worth checking out... just don't expect fireworks like you're used to. They're still there, just hidden under production sludge.

Rating: C+

User Rating: C+


© 2001 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Raw Power Records, and is used for informational purposes only.