Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Iron Maiden versus Gamebooks

Could there be a better gateway to Metal than Iron Maiden? Not to mention as a musical accompaniment to gamebook playing and dungeon delving? You've got a blistering twin lead guitar attack from Dave Murray and Adrian Smith, accompanied by the operatic tenor of Bruce Dickinson as he wails about mystical themes that rival anything in Spinal Tap's back catalogue. Add the tight rhythm section of band-founder Steve Harris' self-taught bass power chords and Nicko McBrain's drum assault, and you have the classic template for wholesome heavy metal goodness.

The above band lineup should give you a hint about my bias towards what I consider classic Iron Maiden, and indeed leads to our problem for today: How to compile a decent Iron Maiden mix-tape? Two straight-up rules make the process easier:
  1. No songs from Iron Maiden or Killers. Paul Di Anno is a great singer and early Iron Maiden is fabulously punk-rock, but it just sounds weird alongside their classic epic material which is what we want to focus on here. Perhaps another mix tape, Iron Maiden: The Early Years, should be compiled?
  2. No songs beyond Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. That's the last album I listened to before I traitorously abandoned metal in favour of cooler soundscapes. There may well be excellent material on their more recent albums, and one of these days I may even do some research on this, but not right now.
This gives us a solid sequence of six great albums: The Number of the Beast, Piece of Mind, Powerslave, Live After Death, Somewhere In Time and Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. There are still problems however!
  1. Too many good songs! There's eight songs on Somewhere In Time alone that I'd be happy to listen to on any Iron Maiden mix tape.
  2. The songs are too long! Most of the short songs are on the first two albums, and we've already culled those from the selection.
So we need to start thinking themes. If we're wandering the catacombs beneath Firetop Mountain battling the minions of Zagor the Warlock, we want an appropriate soundtrack of epic fantasy. This means ditching any references to Napoleonic soldiers, fighter plane pilots and futuristic cyborg assassins (which we could of course stick on another mix tape), leaving us with...

The Iron Maiden Mystical Metal Mix (c90, 2011, Bangkok)

Side A
The Number of the Beast
Sea of Madness
Flight of Icarus
Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
Hallowed Be Thy Name

Side B
Still Life
To Tame A Land
Children of the Damned
Rime of the Ancient Mariner (from Live After Death)
Alexander the Great
The Clairvoyant

Ninety minutes of fantasy metal awesomeness!

Finally, mention has to go to Derek Riggs whose amazing artwork of Eddie the Head for their various singles, albums and tour posters is basically synonymous with Iron Maiden. I've attached two of my favourite illustrations of his to this post, and to print out and use as covers for the mix tape.


  1. Some excellent choices there :)

  2. Ah, no Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner? That's perfect for the long march across the wasteland.

    And what about Run to the HIlls? Can I Play With Madness?

    Man, you are KILLING me here!

  3. Sorry Matthew! Run to the Hills and Loneliness of the Long Distance would be on the mix tape sequel. I'm not a big fan of Can I Play With Madness? though.

    A friend on Facebook gave me grief for the 'No Paul Di Anno' rule, so factor in another tape for the early years and that's at least 2 more mix tapes for the Irons to go! :-)