Raw Power Records, 1980
REVIEW BY: Riley McDonald
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/07/2004
The year is 1980. Martin Scorsese's film Raging Bull is released; President Carter boycotts the Olympics; and in England, heavy metal is on the rise with the likes of Judas Priest and Motörhead. One club band, having only a small following will release an album that will be the harbinger for the future of not only New Wave of British Heavy Metal, but metal as a whole.
The lineup on Iron Maiden is radically different from the one most people know and love. Dennis Stratton is playing on rhythm guitars instead of Adrian Smith or Janick Gers. On the drums is the slightly less popular, yet by no means less great Clive Burr. The most noticeable person missing is the Air Raid Siren, Bruce Dickinson, who wouldn't hook up with the band for another two years. Instead, we're treated to the much more coarse, harsh, and punk-oriented Paul Di'Anno. While I can't say I enjoy him more than Bruce, he's still adept at what he does.
Unfortunately, this would be one of the band's weakest releases. The production seems to be really poor (though you can't really fault the band for that), and some of the musicianship seems to be fairly shoddy ("Remember Tomorrow," while being one of my favourite tracks on the album, has a weird, dissonant intro to it that makes me cringe every time I hear it).
This is not to say that this is a bad album at all. It has some of Maiden's biggest hits on it, such as the rocking instrumental "Transylvania," the hard rock anthem of "Running Free," and, of course, "Iron Maiden." In fact, the softer "ballad" "Remember Tomorrow," is one of the high points, along with the ferocious, relentless "Phantom of the Opera," with its brilliant instrumental section that would show some foreshadowing on Harris and Smith's excellence in the writing department.
However, the album is marred with the juvenile perversity of "Prowler," (though I have to admit, that intro riff is catchy as hell), and the failed parody of love ballads called "Charlotte The Harlot." Also, I find the much-loved hit "Sanctuary" to be sorely lacking. It's these beginners mistakes that show not all of Maiden's material have held up over the past 20+ years.
Whenever I'm listening to this album, I find it better to think of it not as an Iron Maiden release, but rather as an NWoBHM record. To me, this album is an adequate symbol for the whole of British Heavy Metal of the era, capturing both the good and the bad.
In all, this album is hardly a bad one by metal standards, but hardly a good one by Maiden standards. I'd recommend this album, but only after people have checked out some of the band's better works.