Text by Phil Ashdown.
Throughout the 60s and 70s the live album was an important way to document the sound of a band at their peak and being the only way to bring the concert experience into the home to be re-lived as often as you like. Before the days of video, classic live rock albums included Cream – Wheels Of Fire, The Who – Live At Leeds, Lynyrd Skynyrd – One More For The Road, Peter Frampton – Frampton Comes Alive, Kiss – Alive and Deep Purple – Made In Japan. Some of these albums are hailed as the artists best records, even eclipsing their studio releases. Some of them, including Kiss and Peter Frampton’s efforts resurrected their entire careers. Canadian band Rush released live albums to bring to a close certain distinct eras of the band’s development before a new studio sound was developed in the studio. During this period the live album’s importance cannot be underestimated.
After constant bouts of touring and releasing five excellent albums Iron Maiden reached that point in their career during their global trek in support of their Powerslave album in 1984.
Their colossal ‘World Slavery Tour’ began in Warsaw, Poland on 9th August 1984 and lasted for 322 days, through 24 countries and 187 blistering stage performances. They toured with a stunning Egyptian themed stage set to tie in with Powerslave’s cover artwork and featured sarcophagi, hieroglyphs and even a huge golden Egyptian god-like mask featuring the band’s mascot, Eddie that split apart to reveal a towering mummified corpse shooting sparks from it’s eyes during the song Iron Maiden. The sheer scale and theatricality of this tour meant it would become their most acclaimed outings and the perfect time to document it on record and on film.
The album was preceded by a single, Running Free, released on 13 September on both 7” and 12” vinyl. Interestingly this was the first release by the band not to feature a cover by artist Derek Riggs and instead had a live photo of the band on stage (see below) The B-sides were live recordings of Murders In The Rue Morgue and Sanctuary that were not included on the album.
Released on 14 October 1985, the album itself was recorded at Long Beach Arena, California and London’s legendary Hammersmith Odeon mainly because as producer Martin Birch says in the liner notes “..it helps if the band are able to play multiple dates at the hall, so you can set up on the first day and leave everything. Therefore, Maiden’s four-night engagements at both Hammersmith and Long Beach were ideal.”
Tour manager Tony Wigens states in the booklet that come with the album… “We travelled nearly 100,000 miles, used 7,778 hotel rooms, used 6,392 guitar strings, 3,760 drumsticks, 3,008 guitar picks and consumed about 50,00 cans of beer, 30,000 soft drinks, 6,000 pints of milk, 2,500 pints of orange juice and literally tons of food.”
The band travelled in two custom built busses with the crew in three more and all forty tons of equipment transported in six forty-five foot artic trucks.
Although no specific details of dates were given on the album’s notes, the double release has the first three sides recorded at Long Beach and side four from Hammersmith. During the song Running Free singer Bruce Dickinson refers it to being the fourth concert which would mean it was recorded on Sunday 17th March in Long Beach. Band leader Steve Harris has stated that even if they had had the time, they wouldn’t have added any studio overdubs, stating “we were really anti all that, anyway. We were very much, like, ‘This has got to be totally live,’ you know?”
The cover art (slight variation above) was done by Derek Riggs, and pictures Eddie, rising from what appears to be his grave as the headstone has his name engraved along with a quote from fantasy and horror author H P Lovecraft’s The Nameless City
“That is not dead which can eternal lie
Yet with strange aeons even death may die.”
The back cover depicts the rest of the graveyard and a city being destroyed by lightning, which Riggs states was inspired by John Martin’s painting, The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Other details include Death’s silhouette in the clouds above the destroyed city, a black cat with a halo, a tombstone engraved with “Here lies Derek Riggs”. The artist also included gravestones which state “Live With Pride”, added at the band’s request to show opposition to lip-synched performances, “Here Lis Faust In Body Only”, the German legend who sold his soul to the Devil (hence “in body only”), and a stone which simply reads “Thank You”, representing the Grateful Dead.
The rest of the package has over 200 photographs on the inner sleeves, the centre spread and an eight-page booklet, all taken during the tour both on and off stage. Also all tour dates, a list of all equipment used, daily tour schedule, tour personnel, song lyrics, notes from Tour Manager Tony Wigens and producer Martin Birch.
In his review for Kerrang! magazine (see below)Mick Wall says “The whole Live After Death package is quite, quite stunning in every respect. It’s a masterpiece wrought on splendid and intricate detail; the original artwork, the design, the enthusiasm and the humour, and most of all THE MUSIC, collide into a glorious cacophony of sound and vision.” He continues “I think it’s the nearest that any person could get to being on an Iron Maiden world tour without actually leaving town.
Live After Death has been highly rated by critics since its release, some calling it “possibly the greatest live album of all time or “easily one of heavy metal’s best live albums”.
Sputnikmusic concludes that “Iron Maiden’s 1985 release has everything you could ask for. With, exciting renditions of classic songs, and brilliant performances, Live After Death is quite a fun listen.” The album has also been described by Classic Rock as “the last great live album of the vinyl era.”
- “Intro: Churchill Speech”
- “Aces High”
- “2 Minutes to Midnight”
- “The Trooper”
- “Flight of Icarus”
- “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”
- “The Number of the Beast”
- “Hallowed Be Thy Name”
- “Iron Maiden”
- “Run to the Hills”
- “Running Free”
- “22 Acacia Avenue”
- “Children Of The Damned”
- “Die With Your Boots On”
- “Phantom Of The Opera”
For the Live After Death video, the band hired director Jim Yukich to film two shows of their four night run at Long Beach.
- Intro: Church Speech
- Aces High
- 2 Minutes To Midnight
- The Trooper
- Flight Of Icarus
- Rime Of The Ancient Mariner
- The Number Of The Beast
- Hallowed Be Thy Name
- Iron Maiden
- Run To The Hills
- Running Free
A further single was released on 2 December that featuring a live version of Phantom Of The Opera recorded at Long Beach Arena along with Phantom Of The Opera and Losfer Words recorded live at Hammersmith Odeon. These particular versions were not on the album. This time the picture sleeve had a great Riggs rendering of Phantom Eddie playing an organ on the top of a mountain.
I was fortunate to attend the first of the four sell-out shows at Hammersmith (see ticket stub and flyer below) so I like to think I was amongst the crowd recorded and used on side four. “Scream For Me Hammersmith!!” The support band for this tour was Waysted that was formed by former UFO bassist Pete Way. As all fans of Maiden know, UFO’s track Doctor Doctor has been played over the speakers at every gig, to this date, just prior to the venue lights going out before the band hit the stage.
Whilst the classic era of the double live album has gone, due in part to the proliferation of live performance videos and DVDs throughout the eighties and nineties this release must surely remain at the top of any list of rock’s greatest testaments of concert recordings along with Thin Lizzy’s Live And Dangerous, Judas Priest’s Unleashed In The East and the aforementioned Made In Japan from Deep Purple.
EIL.COM Favourite Music Update Rare CDs, CD Singles, Rare Records, Vinyl Records, Albums and Music
- Iron Maiden - Running Free - UK - 7" vinyl - £15.00, $18.90, €17.70 (New Item) (arrived 26-May-2022 14:47)on May 26, 2022 at 9:30 pm
IRON MAIDEN Running Free (Classic original 1980 UK 7" vinyl single with intact four prong centre and Eddie picture labels, also includes Burning Ambition, housed in a plain die-cut paper sleeve. The vinyl remains excellent with only a few light surface scuffs. An ideal play copy EMI5032)
- Iron Maiden - Maiden England '88 - UK - picture disc LP - £55.00, $69.30, €64.90 (New Item) (arrived 25-Mar-2022 15:13)on May 26, 2022 at 9:30 pm
IRON MAIDEN Maiden England '88 (2013 UK limited edition 18-track double Picture Disc set, featuring an epic performance recorded across two sold-out nights at Birmingham N.E.C Arena in November 1988 during the band's Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son World Tour. For this first time, this set now includes three previously unreleased encores: Running Free, Run To The Hills and Sanctuary, therefore completing the full concert, housed in a hype stickered gatefold picture sleeve with printed inners. Although not sealed, this example remains in a 'near as new' condition with little sings of play)
- Iron Maiden - The Ed Hunter Tour - Swedish - poster - Promo - £25.00, $31.50, €29.50 (Back In Stock) (arrived 27-Sep-2021 16:26)on May 26, 2022 at 9:30 pm
IRON MAIDEN The Ed Hunter Tour (Original 1999 Swedish EMA tour poster for the concerts held in Stockholm & Gothenburg on 17th and 18th September 2009. Appearing unused, this example is free of pinholes, sellotape and rips. However, there is a small 1cm tear to the top right corner which can be easily covered when framed. Printed to thick stock paper. A fabulous poster, well worthy of framing and display)
- Iron Maiden - Powerslave - UK - 2-CD album set - £49.99, $62.99, €58.99 (New Item) (arrived 24-Nov-2021 12:43)on May 26, 2022 at 9:30 pm
IRON MAIDEN Powerslave (Rare 1995 UK limited edition 12-track double picture CD set, manufactured in Holland, includes 8-track album plus 4-track bonus CD featuring Mission From 'Arry, King Of Twilight and Number Of The Beast live, housed in a hype-stickered thin double case with picture sleeve CDEM1574)
- Iron Maiden - Somewhere In Time - UK - 2-CD album set - £49.99, $62.99, €58.99 (New Item) (arrived 24-Nov-2021 13:02)on May 26, 2022 at 9:30 pm
IRON MAIDEN Somewhere In Time (Rare 1995 UK issue limited edition double picture CD set manufactured in Holland, including the 8-track album plus a 4-track bonus Disc, featuring Reach Out, Juanita, Sherriff Of Huddersfield & That Girl, housed in a hype-stickered thin double case with picture sleeve CDEM1576)