Iron Maiden’s The Trooper released 35 years ago…

By Phil Ashdown.

The Trooper is British rock band Iron Maiden’s 10th single and was the second release from the band’s fourth studio album Piece Of Mind. Released on 20th June 1983 and peaking at No.12 in the UK singles charts. The B-side is a cover of Jethro Tull’s Cross Eyed Mary which gained some US airplay helping the single to reach a healthy No. 28 on Billboard.

It was written by founding member and bassist Steve Harris and is based around the Charge Of The Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava in 1854 as part of the Crimean War and inspired by Lord Tennyson’s poem of the same name. The track is a fan favourite, with its signature galloping bass lines, fast tempo and time changes that has since become synonymous with the band. Unusually it does not have a structured chorus and the title is not featured in the lyrics. AllMusic described it as “an all-time genre classic that boasts Dave Murray and Adrian Smith’s most memorable harmonized lead riff plus that galloping rhythm”.

Image from the official Derek Riggs website.

The accompanying video included battle clips from the 1936 film The Charge Of The Light Brigade which starred Erroll Flynn. The BBC would not show the unedited version deeming it too violent!

The now famous artwork was, once again produced by Derek Riggs and featured band mascot Eddie wielding a sword and flag as he treads over the fallen bodies of his enemies.

It remains a firm fixture in the band’s tour setlist to this day and a huge roar comes from the audience as the familiar artwork backdrop is revealed on stage. Vocalist Bruce Dickinson waves a battle-weary Union Flag during the song and wears a uniform red jacket, a replica of one worn during the Crimean period.

A live version of the song was released in 2005 on 12”, 7” and Compact Disc and reached No.5 in the UK charts.

Who would have thought, all those years ago that this would inspire the creation of an Iron Maiden branded British beer named after the song, from a recipe created by Bruce Dickinson that has been in pubs and on supermarket shelves around the world for five years.

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