Iron Maiden’s Debut Album Is Forty

Written by Phil Ashdown

On 14th April 1980 Iron maiden released their highly anticipated eponymous debut album. Buoyed by the success of the Running Free single reaching No 34 on the UK charts and a performance on BBC’s Top Of The Pops, for which the band refused to mime, insisting on playing live they were finally ready to let the record buying public hear what all the fuss was about.

Maiden had toured solidly throughout the UK on the Metal For Muthas tour and had built up a solid reputation as an excellent live band. They were even offered a support slot on Judas Priest’s British Steel tour (Priest’s British Steel LP was released on the same day) and some claimed that Priest had to considerably raise their game having to follow Maiden onto the stage.

The album contained eight tracks, picked from songs mainly written by Steve Harris that had been honed to perfection by the band on the road. It is produced by Wil Malone whom the band have since claimed lacked interest, effectively leaving the young band to produce it themselves. Steve Harris claims it took only thirteen days to complete at Kingsway Studios in West London during January, with the band taking time out from touring to complete the mixing process at Morgan Studios in West London in February. Earlier efforts in December 1979 with Guy Edwards and The Sweet’s Andy Scott both ended in failure, particularly when Scott insisted on Harris playing the bass with a pick instead of his natural way of using his fingers!

Despite the band’s criticism of the overall sound and production it was met with critical and commercial success, reaching No4 on the UK album charts. Geoff Barton, reviewing the album in Sounds said, “Heavy metal for the ’80s, its blinding speed and rampant ferocity making most plastic heavy rock tracks from the ’60s and ’70s sound sloth-like and funeral-dirgey by comparison.”

This was to be the only studio album with guitarist Dennis Stratton who was dismissed after a European tour supporting Kiss. The reason was given as “musical differences” due to alleged claims that Sratton added harmony guitars and backing vocals to the track Phantom Of The Opera which were promptly removed by the band.

They were soon back on the road on the Iron Maiden Tour which included their first headline dates in mainland Europe. They were shocked to find how popular the band were in places like Leiden in Holland with fans getting the message by word-of-mouth in these pre-internet days.

Another single, Sanctuary, was released on 23 May. It featured a recording made during the album sessions and was never intended to be included on the LP. The B-side included two live recordings from London’s famous Marquee, Drifter – which would be included on the next album and a cover of Montrose’s I’ve Got The Fire. It entered the UK charts at No33 before peaking at No29 a week later. The cover artwork caused controversy as it showed band mascot Eddie, wielding a bloodied knife, standing over the body of then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. At the suggestion of band manager Rod Smallwood EMI released two versions of the single, one with Thatcher’s face censored as a way to gain more press coverage. This proved successful with the Daily Mirror running a story about the single and publishing the uncensored artwork.

Tracks on the album include the 7-minute “Phantom of the Opera” which is one of Harris’s favourites and is still performed live relatively frequently. With lots of mood and time-changes, Harris marks it as “the first song I’d written that was a bit more proggy” “Transylvania” is an instrumental piece composed by Harris, Iron Maiden is the only song played at every Maiden show and normally involves a giant Eddie rising from behind the drumkit. Charlotte The Harlot is written by guitarist Dave Murray and on Running Free and Remember Tomorrow, Harris collaborated with singer Paul Di’Anno.

Of all the album’s songs, “Phantom of the Opera”, “Running Free”, “Sanctuary” and “Iron Maiden” are the most frequently played in the band’s concert tours. All of the album’s songs, excluding “Strange World”, have been recorded with Bruce Dickinson on vocals, either on live albums, studio B-Sides or both

  1. Prowler
  2. Remember Tomorrow
  3. Running Free
  4. Phantom Of The Opera
  5. Transylvania
  6. Strange World
  7. Charlotte The Harlot
  8. Iron Maiden

On release the album received immediate critical acclaim, with Geoff Barton, reviewing the album in Sounds, writing, “Heavy metal for the ’80s, its blinding speed and rampant ferocity making most plastic heavy rock tracks from the ’60s and ’70s sound sloth-like and funeral-dirgey by comparison.”

To promote the second part of the Iron Maiden Tour the band entered the studio to record a cover of Australian band Skyhooks’ Women In Uniform. Steve Harris was not keen on the idea of doing a cover but when producer Tony Platt got involved, as he had worked with AC/DC Harris agreed. The idea had been suggested by the band’s publishers, Zomba and it turned out that Platt and guitarist Dennis Stratton had been tampering with the song’s mix and had been told by Zomba to get a hit single. Harris sacked Platt and mixed the song himself. The single was released on 27 October and peaked at No35 in the UK charts. They also shot a video that was filmed at London’s Rainbow theatre and directed by Doug Smith.

Again, the artwork was created by Derek Riggs and featured Eddie arm-in-arm with two young women (in uniform) with Margaret Thatcher waiting round a corner with a sub machine gun. Again it was intended as a tongue-in-cheek joke but even prompted a demonstration at Maiden’s show at Leeds University on 22 November.

ALBUM TRACKLISTING

  1. Prowler
  2. Remember Tomorrow
  3. Running Free
  4. Phantom Of The Opera
  5. Transylvania
  6. Strange World
  7. Charlotte The Harlot
  8. Iron Maiden

ALBUM LINE-UP

Steve Harris – Bass

Paul Di’Anno – Vocals

Dave Murray – Guitar

Dennis Stratton – Guitar

Clive Burr – Drums

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    on January 28, 2023 at 12:20 pm

    IRON MAIDEN Live After Death (1985 UK 18-track double vinyl LP recorded during the 'World Slavery Tour' including the classic tracks Aces High, The Trooper, The Number Of The Beast, Run To The Hills, Phantom Of The Opera and many more, gatefold picture sleeve with picture inners. The sleeve has some light edge wear and, apart from a few surface/paper scuffs, the vinyl appears in excellent condition RIP1)

  • Iron Maiden - Laser Etched Beer Glasses - UK - memorabilia - £75.00, $93.00, €85.50 (New Item) (arrived 11-Jan-2023 13:45)
    on January 28, 2023 at 12:20 pm

    IRON MAIDEN Laser Etched Beer Glasses (UK collectors set comprising two beer glasses, laser etched with a delightful image of Eddie gleefully brandishing a hammer. Presented in a faux-snakeskin hinge-opening box, also branded with the same image. Previously only available from the band's website the case shows a small score at top, whilst the contents are Near Mint)

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    IRON MAIDEN Senjutsu (2021 UK/EU limited edition Super Deluxe Box Set featuring 2-CDs, a Blu-ray Disc, exclusive memorabilia art cards, poster, lenticular poster, origami sheet and 28-page booklet. Housed inside a deluxe box with artwork in the Japanese lacquer style, wrap-around obi strip. Although not sealed, remains in a really nice 'near as new' condition)

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    IRON MAIDEN Flight 666: The Film (2009 UK BLU-RAY DISC [playable on Blu-Ray players and Playstation 3 consoles only] - Iron Maiden's historic 'Somewhere Back In Time World' tour in February & March of 2008,is considered to be the most ambitious and adventurous tour in rock history. Circumnavigating the globe in just 45 days, the band flew in a specially customised Boeing 757 airliner, piloted by lead singer Bruce Dickinson, with the entire tourcrew and 12 tons of music and stage equipment on board, to 23 sold out stadium and arena shows in Asia, Australia and North, Central and South America. 'Flight 666' gives a close up inside the scenes look at what happened on and off stage, when Maiden gave full access to a film crew for the first time ever, and contains some of the most spectacular live footage yet seen of Maiden. Taking you from Mumbai to Santiago, LA to Sydney, Tokyo to San Paolo, Buenos Aires to Toronto and all points between, through exhaustion and fan pandemonium, travelling with band and crew on the plane, to and from shows, in the bar and during leisure time, this really is Access All Areas. Comes complete with live performance footage captured during the tour, including 'Aces High', 'The Trooper', 'The Number Of The Beast', 'Hallowed Be Thy Name', 'Iron Maiden' & more.)

  • Iron Maiden - The Number Of The Beast Over Hammersmith - Sealed - UK - 3-LP vinyl set - £69.99, $86.79, €79.79 (New Item) (arrived 24-Nov-2022 14:24)
    on January 28, 2023 at 12:20 pm

    IRON MAIDEN The Number Of The Beast Over Hammersmith (40th Anniversary 2022 UK/EU limited edition triple album 3-LP pressed on 180-gram heavyweight black vinyl, featuring 8 remastered studio tracks and a new alternative tracklist with Total Eclipse, plus for the first time on vinyl Beast Over Hammersmith on two bonus LP records. Triple gatefold picture sleeve with dual cover artwork, hype stickers & factory sealed. Recommended)

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