Members of Iron Maiden discuss their albums with Classic Rock Magazine. Read what they had to say below.

Iron Maiden (1980):

Steve Harris: “It’s all there – powerful songs, loads of attitude, and as a singer, Paul (Di’Anno) had real charisma. But, everyone knows that I wasn’t happy with the production. It album didn’t have enough of the fire and the anger that we had in our playing. We used to laugh about the producer (Will Malone) sitting there with his feet up on the desk, smoking a big cigar and reading Country Life – because he didn’t do f–k all else. So in the end we would just ignore him. It was still a good album, it just didn’t sound as ferocious as we did when we played live.”

Killers (1981):

Dave Murray: “On the first album we were playing fast, almost like punk rock, but with more melody. Martin’s production on Killers gave us a little more polish, without losing our edge. The title track on that album is still one of my favorites. It has such a pure and raw energy, and we carried on playing it live for years. Of course, this was the last album we made with Paul. When Bruce came in, that was an even bigger turning point for the band. But I think Paul sounded great on Killers. The whole album is really powerful and atmospheric. And really, it was Martin Birch who brought that out of us.”

The Number Of The Beast (1982):

Bruce Dickinson: “I knew that I had joined a great band. I also knew I could make it even better. I had a vision for The Number Of The Beast, my voice glued on to Maiden equals something much bigger. We did it fast – four or five weeks. We’d be in the studio till five or six in the morning. The one mistake we made was putting Gangland on the album instead of Total Eclipse. We picked Gangland because it was the first thing we ever recorded together properly. But the rest of the album was fantastic. Hallowed Be Thy Name was a precursor to Rime Of The Ancient Mariner. That song, and the whole album, took Maiden to a different level.

Piece Of Mind (1983):

Nicko McBrain: “It was my first record with Maiden, so it’s very special to me. The first time I ever saw them play live was in 1979, and I knew they had it. Clive (Burr) was such a great drummer. I certainly wasn’t out for his job, but I did think to myself, I could be in that band. And in the end, it was meant to be, I suppose. For me, making Piece Of Mind was one big adventure. We were recording in the Caribbean, and I’d never been there before. And of course we had all these epic tracks – The Trooper, Revelation, Flight Of Icarus, and best of all for me, Where Eagles Dare. The intro in that track – that drum riff – is right up there with the likes of Phil Collins and Neil Peart. It’s still one of my favorite Maiden songs.”

Powerslave (1984):

Adrian Smith: “We recorded the album at Compass Point studios in Nassau. And in those days, some of us were rather easily distracted. One night I was with Martin Birch, partying till three in the morning. The next day I turned up the studio, really hungover, and there’s Martin, still up from the night before, and beside him is Robert Palmer, who lived next door to the studio. I had to do my solo for the track Powerslave, and I had the shakes, but I just went, f–k it. I pulled off a solo and Robert Palmer was going, ‘That’s f–king great!’.”

Live After Death (1985):

Bruce Dickinson: “It was a real statement, a live double, like the ones we all loved when we were growing up. My favorite live album is Deep Purple’s Made In Japan. But I recall reading Ian Gillan saying, ‘I thought it was a piece of s–t, I sounded crap on it.’ And I was like, ‘No, no, no – you’re wrong!’ The funny thing is, I’m the same with Live After Death. When Maiden fans tell me it’s our best live album, I’m like, ‘Oh, I don’t know about that.’ But just recently I listened to Live After Death and it sounded pretty good. And “Scream for me, Long Beach!” has become a part of Maiden folklore.

Somewhere In Time (1986):

Adrian Smith: “We went for a new kind of sound on Somewhere In Time, using guitar synths, and two of my songs for that album came out really well, Stranger In A Strange Land and Wasted Years. When we were mixing in New York, I was in my hotel room listening to the tracks with Martin Birch, and there was a knock at the door. I opened it and Tom Jones was standing there. He said: ‘I heard the music, lads. Do you mind if I come in?’ He listened to the album, and as we talked I realized that what we do is pretty much the same: making records, doing shows. Except that with Maiden, it’s a bit louder.”

Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son (1988):

Steve Harris: “It was a new challenge for us, making a concept album. I’ve always loved prog – Yes, Genesis, ELP – and this album’s title track was a powerful song with that prog element to it. Not everyone liked the album at the time. Bruce even said to me that Queensryche had made a better concept album that ours, with Operation: Mindcrime. I said, ‘That’s a really good album, but ours is a f–king great album!’ Not long after that, Bruce did a solo album. He was struggling within himself. We didn’t realize how much until later.”

No Prayer For The Dying (1990):

Janick Gers: “I’d done Bruce’s solo album and tour, and we hadn’t played any Maiden songs live, but then Bruce asked me to learn four Maiden songs and go down to Steve’s place. That was when they told me that Adrian had left. The first song we jammed on was The Trooper, and it sounded so tight, so powerful, they just said, ‘You’re in.’ I said to myself, ‘I’ll last two weeks here. Once they get to know me they won’t like me!’ But it was fantastic. The tour was a back-to-basics show, which was cool. Some people missed the plastic pyramids, but I can take them or leave them!”

Fear Of The Dark (1992):

Dave Murray: “It was a very different album for Maiden. A lot of the music was more a classical kind of rock, with lots of time changes. I can still remember the moment when we recorded the song Fear Of The Dark. We knew right away that it was going to be a standout live track. Everything about it – the power, the melodies, the lyrics, the pacing of the song and the way it changes – it really sums up what Maiden is all about. The way the fans sing it when we’re playing live, it really has become an anthem for us.”

The X-Factor (1995):

Janick Gers: “When Bruce quit, I couldn’t believe it. It felt like we’d been left high and dry, and we had to decide what to do: do we stop, or carry on? We listened to so many tapes of singers. But with Blaze, we just felt that he had the right attitude and that he had a really raucous voice. As soon as we got him rehearsing with the band, it felt good, and right from the start we wrote some great stuff. Sign Of The Cross was such a powerful song, really dark and atmospheric. And I thought Blaze really came into his own with Man On The Edge. It was important to show people that we could do it without Bruce.”

Virtual XI (1998):

Nicko McBrain: “Blaze did a great job on Virtual XI. Steve wrote some really great stuff for Virtual XI – tracks like Futureal, The Clansman, The Angel And The Gambler. It’s an album we’re all very proud of. But as it turned out, it was the last one with Blaze. We knew Bruce wanted to come back, and obviously there was a question mark, would it happen again? He’s s–t on us once… There was that hurdle to get over, but once we did that, by talking to each other, it was like a new band.”

Brave New World (2000):

Adrian Smith: “For Bruce and myself, it felt like coming home. Maybe in the outside world, this album was viewed as a comeback, but not for the other fellas that had been in the band for all that time while we were away. The 90s might have been a bit of a low point for Maiden because of the emergence of Nirvana and the whole grunge thing, but Maiden were still out there with Blaze, playing in massive arenas in South America. So if some people want to call Brave New World a comeback, that’s okay, but I think a better word is ‘revitalization’.”

Dance Of Death (2003):

Janick Gers: “I loved the feel of this album. Everything about it felt big. And the song Dance Of Death is one that I’m really proud of. It was based on the Ingmar Bergman movie, The Seventh Seal. I saw it when I was a kid and just loved it. It’s about someone looking for hope in a world that’s devastated. And at the end of the movie there is this dance of death. The funny thing is, I was on the tube not long after we’d written it, and I saw this huge poster of The Seventh Seal. Such a weird coincidence.”

A Matter Of Life And Death (2006):

Bruce Dickinson: “There’s a lot of great stuff on this album. A lot of strange time signatures. It was a very brave move for us on that tour – to play the album from end to end: ‘We’re going to play the whole f–king album for the people who are about the here and now, the people who are interested in the band going forward.’ You’ve got to keep on making new music, and great new music, because without it you’re just the world’s biggest karaoke band.”

The Final Frontier (2010):

Steve Harris: “Bruce had a bit of fun with that title, joking as if it was our last album. We all knew it wasn’t, that we’d do at least one more. Really, that title was just my science fiction thing coming into play. I’m fascinated by all the conspiracy theories about alien life. I’m not so sure I believe that stuff, but I wouldn’t rule it out. That’s a pub debate right there. But that title gave us a great concept for the artwork. And there’s certainly quite a proggy feel to a few of the longer tracks on the album.”

The Book Of Souls (2015):

Steve Harris: “We knew that this, more than any other album, was going to be a long one. We don’t seem to write short songs any more. I don’t know why. The title track is a big song. And then Bruce brought in Empire Of The Clouds. It was only when we started recording it that we realized, Christ, this is ridiculously long! To me, it’s almost like a West End play. I’ve told Bruce that I think it’s a masterpiece. He might have thought I was winding him up, but I wish I’d written it, and I can’t give someone a better compliment.”

What is your favorite Iron Maiden album and what your thoughts about what they had to say about their records?


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  • Mr. Rock And Roll on

    My favorite Iron Maiden record is without a doubt KILLERS. The perfect hard rock/metal record. You can hear the Deep Purple and early Queen influence on the band, Paul is just ferocious, the songs, well, not one bad one on it. All killers, pun intended. I am not going to apologize for the fact that even though I love Bruce, when he sings Paul’s songs, it just isn’t right. Paul had an energy and immediacy that Bruce doesn’t. They are completely different stylistically, so I am not knocking Bruce, but I just prefer Paul. To be fair, my fave Bruce record is The Number of the Beast. Scrap Invaders and the record is top notch. Clive Burr is 10 times the drummer than Nicko “waving meter” McBrain. I also must mention the Maiden Japan EP. Dave Murray’s solo on “Killers” is the greatest live metal solo of all time. Now, guys, PUT IT OUT ON CD PLEASE!!!!

    • Bryan Kirby on

      The entire “Maiden Japan” ep (plus three other tracks) is on the Castle Records reissue of Killers.

    • Tommy Wnuck on

      Maiden Japan was released with the collectors edition CDs “The First Ten Years”. I purchased them when they were original released in 1991. You can still find Madien Japan and the other editions on Amazon and EBay. Very expensive. Maybe one day they will re-release?

  • Greg in H2Otown on

    Yeah mine have disappeared too or just not been posted for some reason. But anyway, Yes, Dave Murray’s “Killers’ solo on Maiden Japan is “the best live metal solo’ EVER!!! Well, actually gotta say it’s pretty close to a tie with KK Downing’s Sinner solo from the Memphis, Live Vengeance ’82 show. For longevity, KK’s clock’s in at a fierce 90 seconds but I have to give Dave the slight and I mean slight nod for his 30 seconds of pure raging mayhem. It’s so hard for me to pick a favorite Maiden album because right from the 1st album to Seventh Son, each one in their own right are just so great. As much as I love Killers, I mean the 1st two albums are so raw and fierce, though Killers is better produced, my all time favorite is Piece of Mind. It’s just very special to me(as is TNOTB, it was the 1st Maiden album I owned and bought with my own money). But when I got POM, I got it on cassette for christmas ’83, along with a walkman(a cool slim one I could fit in my back pocket, damn that thing was sweet, lol). I put that tape in and listened to over and over again, about five hrs straight, wore the friggin’ batteries out, good thing I had an extra set.

  • Greg in H2Otown on

    Oh, I too am seeing Maiden, April 3rd, Toronto. UP THE IRONS!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Medved on

    Okay, let’s try this again.

    First two Maiden albums are classics. Very up tempo, fast rocking, and Clive Burr’s drumming! “Strange World” is my favorite ballad song, if you can call it a ballad, and I’ve always loved “Phantom of the Opera”. “Killers” of course is the better of the two Paul Di’Anno albums, and the first to feature Adrian Smith on guitar.

    The Beast to Powerslave albums is what I consider to be the golden era of Maiden. “Still Life” on Piece of Mind is such an underrated song, and one I wish Maiden would perform again. They dropped that song from the set list when they recreated the Seventh Son tour a few years ago. It was on the set list during the original tour back in ’88.

    No Prayer and Fear of the Dark was a down period for Maiden, which eventually led to the departures of Bruce and Adrian. They’re not among my favorite albums, but then again, there really isn’t a bad Maiden album either.

    The Blaze Bayley albums, on their own merit, were decent albums. The X Factor was a dark album, and had very quality songs on them. Virtual XI suffered from too much repetitive lyrics, especially on “The Angel and the Gambler”. While Blaze was Steve’s hand picked choice to replace Bruce, he wasn’t the best fit for Maiden. Although Blaze could sing the Di’Anno songs well, he butchered Bruce’s songs, due to his limited vocal range. I never saw Maiden with Blaze, but the bootlegs I have Blaze was just terrible singing Bruce era songs. Rumor has it that former Helloween vocalist Michael Kiske was a potential candidate to replace Bruce. I wonder why that never came to fruition. That would had been a killer pairing!

    My issue with Maiden today is that they’ve gone “prog”, and have been stuck on the Brave New World writing mode since the “reunion” in 2000. Every album since then has sounded almost identical to its predecessor. Not bad albums, mind you, but just stuck on the rinse and repeat cycle. It doesn’t preclude me from ever seeing Maiden live again. However before Steve decides to fold up Maiden permanently, I wish for one more album from the golden era days.

  • shannon mehaffey on

    Killers, those songs are pretty underwritten, it’s too uniform, also “Ides of March” should be credited to Samson. Beast is analogous to Back In Black, it was a classic as soon as it came out, and Bruce hits the same intensity ranges as Brian Johnson did, and like Johnson, only for that record. Birch really produced this record, that is, he pulled superhuman performances out of them.
    But, and this is from a vinyl guy, Love At First Sting is the album of the decade. Those songs are so well put together, that’s what metal really is, it’s not this prog stuff, it’s about concision, getting to the point.
    Screaming for Vengeance is the other album of the decade, The Scorps and Priest, the two best metal bands to walk the planet, predicated on not classifying Sabbath, nor Purple, certainly not Zeppelin, and not even 70s Priest, as metal, but, rather, hard prog rock. Metal is a very particular phenomenon.
    I have some housework to do now: dishes, sweeping, folding the laundry….
    : )

    • Bryan Kirby on

      “Thunderburst” is actually credited to Samson and Steve Harris.

      And just for the record: Love at First Sting, Pyromania and Hysteria are all over produced. Not a fan of any of them.

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