Maiden Japan

Iron Maiden

EMI / Capitol Records, 1981

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


With all of the flurry that has surrounded the re-releases - and I mean all three sets of them - of Iron Maiden's discography on CD, one item has always escaped notice.

No, not The Soundhouse Tapes - though I understand that you will be able to get a CD of these songs by sending in proof-of-purchases from the latest set of re-issues. (Memo to the band: How's about those of us who shelled out big bucks to buy any of the previous reissues?)

Nope, I'm talking about Maiden Japan, the 1981 mini-album that seemed to serve as a stop-gap while Iron Maiden changed lead singers. What turned out to be the swansong of Paul Di'Anno, this five-song album captures a band who are growing tight as a unit, but whose material still wasn't the strongest.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

It's not totally the band's fault - after all, to release any type of a live document with a mere two albums under your belt is a daunting task. And in terms of track selection, Iron Maiden do pretty well by including "Wrathchild" and "Running Free," the two tracks which could be called their biggest hits up to that point. And I do have to admit, including "Killers" was a good move, since it's such a solid version that it would definitely attract listeners back to this cut on the Killers album, if not the whole disc.

Regrettably, two slips are made on Maiden Japan, one negotiable, one big. Let's deal with the latter first. For a band who has constantly been known for the energy of their performances, including the tracks "Remember Tomorrow" and "Innocent Exile" seems to be a questionable move. "Remember Tomorrow," with its beginning that sounds like the mid-section of "Rime Of The Ancient Mariner," starts off far too slow, and breaks the momentum that had been built with "Running Free". However, I will concede that the faster tempoed portion of this song shows how much tighter of a musical outfit Iron Maiden had become since their self-titled release in 1980.

Now, for the "nit-picking" point. I know and understand that this was marketed as a "mini-LP". But one wonders how many other tracks from this particular show are just as energetic and would have helped to flesh this out into a suitable release. Okay, that seems to contradict the statement I made about the difficulty to do a live disc after only two albums - but, c'mon. Who wouldn't like to hear early live versions of songs like "Prowler," "Transylvania" or "Charlotte The Harlot"? (As a matter of fact, a Digipak CD I saw offered on eBay offered Maiden Japan with 17 songs - though I can't be certain if this was a legitimate release. Anyone with information, please let me know.)

Maiden Japan seems to be relegated to the status of being a cult item, and one which you'll really have to search for. It's most definitely a release for the die-hard fans of Iron Maiden's early days. If you're of the mindframe that Iron Maiden really began when Bruce Dickinson took over as lead throat, you may as well stick with Live After Death.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2002 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 EMI / Capitol Records, and is used for informational purposes only.