Tag Archives: Iron Maiden

Rocks In The Attic #650: Pantera – ‘Far Beyond Bootleg – Live From Donington ’94’ (2014)

RITA#650If there was ever a music festival that I wish I had attended, it’s this one – Monsters Of Rock, Donington on Saturday 4th June 1994. It’s the first festival I remember really wanting to go to, but it was out of the question – I was only 15, I couldn’t afford it and even if I could, my parents wouldn’t have let me go just in case I consequently became addicted to heroin. Or, even worse, became a fan of the band Extreme.

What a line-up though. Two stages. The main stage headlined by Aerosmith, with the rest of the bill including Extreme, Sepultura, Pantera, Therapy? and Pride & Glory. The second stage appealed to me even more – headlined by the Wildhearts, this also featured Terrorvision, Skin, Biohazard, Cry Of Love and Headswim.

I think up to this weekend, my head was firmly planted in classic rock. I just listened to Aerosmith and pretty much nothing else. But then MTV aired an hour-long special on the Monsters Of Rock festival, presented by Vanessa Warwick and featuring past performances and music videos of the acts playing that year. As I did with everything else at the time, I recorded it on VHS.

RITA#650aThat tape ended up being one of my favourite recordings, and I’d watch it repeatedly. Most importantly, it introduced me to AC/DC via the AC/DC Live cut of For Those About To Rock (We Salute You) from Donington ’91. It also introduced me to the Wildhearts, by way of the Suckerpunch video. Those two bands became my next obsession after Aerosmith.

The MTV special also introduced me to Iron Maiden with their Fear Of The Dark performance at Donington’92, and Zakk Wylde’s Pride & Glory via their Losin’ Your Mind´ video. I might still have the video somewhere.  The ’94 line-up also justified a couple of bands that I was already interested in, and would go on to see live many times over the next couple of years – Headswim, Terrorvision, Skin and Therapy?.

I’ve picked up a couple of bootlegs from the festival over the years – Aerosmith and the Wildheart’s headlining sets, but sadly only on CD. So it was a welcome sight to see Pantera’s set see an official release. Listening to it now, I so wish I was there, drinking warm beer in the sun.

Hit: Walk

Hidden Gem: Fucking Hostile

Rocks In The Attic #643: The Commodores – ‘Nightshift’ (1985)

RITA#643I work in an office. My colleagues and I are all early starters, so we tend to arrive early and leave early. For some reason, the powers that be have decided that this isn’t good enough, and that we need to have some sort of physical presence in the pod between 4pm and 5pm, just in case somebody needs to ask us a question.

It’s such a pointless directive; the rest of the building seems to start leaving for the day around 4pm. To point out the preposterousness of the situation, one of my colleagues, tasked with putting a rota together to cover this timeframe, has labelled it ‘The Night Shift’.

“It’s like that ‘80s jam, Nightshift, by the Commodores” he laughed.

That same weekend, at the Auckland record fair, I came across the album in the racks. I just had to buy it. As far as Commodores records go, it falls into the post-Lionel Richie years, and so his incredible songwriting is clearly missing. Give me Machine Gun any day over this smooth shit.

I’ve added a themed ‘80s playlist to the Night Shift rota, just to help my colleagues get into the right frame of mind. Alongside the Commodore’s song is Lionel Richie’s All Night Long and Running With The Night, and Iron Maiden’s 2 Minutes To Midnight. It’s a work in progress.

I did my first stint on the night shift last week. Nobody asked me any questions. Listened to some great songs though.

Hit: Nightshift

Hidden Gem: Slip Of The Tongue

Rocks In The Attic #488: Iron Maiden – ‘Killers’ (1981)

RITA#488I saw Maiden in Auckland a few weekends ago. They’re one of the big metal bands I still haven’t seen so I thought I’d put on a black t-shirt and head along. I’ve never been a huge fan of them; they’re a little too much in the realm of puberty and double-denim for me. They did put on a good show though.

Maiden were always a source of ridicule when I was growing up because they were the only band that would actually wear their own band t-shirts on stage. I think it’s pretty sweet for bands to wear other bands’ t-shirts when they’re on stage, you know, as a sign of respect; but to wear your own band’s t-shirt just reeks of narcissism. Surely they wouldn’t still be doing this, I thought as I headed to the arena; but sure enough there was Janick Gers strutting around the stage in a dirty, black Iron Maiden t-shirt. Just him though; damn, I was hoping for a higher score than one out of six. One of the other guitarists Dave Murray usually wears them too, but not on this night.

RITA#488a
The other ridiculous thing about the band, and their contemporaries, is the name of their sub-genre of heavy metal – N.W.O.B.H.M. A ridiculous acronym, standing for New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, this was coined by Sounds journalist Geoff Barton to describe the punkier, more uptempo metal bands that rose to prominence as the ‘70s turned into the ‘80s.

I didn’t really know what to expect from their set-list, but I hardly knew any of the songs – and that’s even with listening to the Best Of The Beast compilation once a year or so since it was released. They rolled out The Trooper, Number Of The Beast and Fear Of The Dark, but there was no Run To The Hills, no Two Minutes To Midnight and no Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter, their only number one single. Maybe they’re just one of those bands who don’t like to play their hits.

RITA#488b
Fear Of The Dark
is a great song though – my favourite Maiden song by a mile, ever since I saw a video of them paying the sing at Donington in 1992. I was pleased to hear the audience sing along to all the instrumental parts too, just like on the Donington video.

They’re a funny-looking bunch of blokes though, aren’t they? First you have Bruce Dickinson, the literal pilot of the band and recent cancer survivor. The rest of the band weren’t really aware that the ‘80s had ended, all dressed up in their skin-tight studded leather trousers and sneakers, but Bruce was there in cargo pants and a hoodie. Then there’s Steve Harris, the metaphorical pilot of the band, in his long shorts pogoing up and down on the bass.

The band have three lead guitarists – Dave Murray, Janick Gers and Adrian Smith – a bit of a cheat, I think, when most bands of their ilk can get by fine with just two. Murray looks like a melted version of Joni Mitchell, Gers just looks happy to be there, playing the guitar in his Iron Maiden t-shirt, and Smith is really the only one who looks to be dressed in a decade other than the ‘80s, wearing a fashion scarf around his neck, and a bandana around his forehead. Okay, the bandana is very ‘80s, but somehow it made him look a hell of a lot more modern than the rest of the band.

RITA#488c
Rounding out the sextext is drummer Nicko McBrain, a man so frightening he looks like he could share the dressing room with Eddie, the band’s ghoulish mascot. Check out his name – McBrain! Crikey – I would not want to run into him in a dark alley.

Killers was album number two for Maiden, and their last with original vocalist Paul Di’Anno. The band don’t sound complete without Bruce Dickinson’s high-pitched wail and the record sounds strange as a result. Dickinson’s vocals were a point of difference for the band after this album, and Di’Anno’s vocals – in the same register as a lot of other metal singers – just don’t have that same sort of appeal.

I did like the years in the ‘90s between Bruce Dickinson leaving and re-joining the band. They got Wolfsbane singer Blaze Bayley in on vocals. Now if you’ve heard that thing about your porn name being the name of your first pet and your Mother’s maiden name, then Blaze Bayley – albeit with a difference in spelling – is mine. Wow – a porn career, and a bit of moonlighting singing for Iron Maiden too!

Hit: Purgatory

Hidden Gem: Genghis Khan

Rocks In The Attic #208: Saxon – ‘Strong Arm Of The Law’ (1980)

RITA#208I’m not sure why I have this record in my collection. I think it may have been part of a batch of records I was handed by somebody in the early 2000s. That’s one of the good things about collecting records – if enough people know that you’re a vinyl junkie, you’re more likely to get handed a pile of unwanted records. One of the bad things about people knowing that you collect records is that you’re more likely to get handed a record like this.

Saxon are one of those bands that belongs in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, and doesn’t really have a place in the 21st century. They’re a poor man’s Judas Priest, and that already sounds like a pretty destitute guy. Similar bands like Iron Maiden have better songs, which means their original fanbase was bigger, and there’s a bigger need for them to continue into this century. Saxon really only exist for me to see what Spinal Tap found so amusing about them.

Although Rob Reiner’s film is drawn from a very large canvas – practically every rock band of the time is lampooned in one way or another – it is Saxon that you always hear as being the key influence on Tap, especially in looks and sound.

Listening to this for the first time, I can hear all of the bad bits of the bands I actually like from around the same time, but none of the good bits. To a normal person, it would be hard to hear the difference between Saxon and a band like Thin Lizzy or Maiden, and I can appreciate the similarities, but I guess history just leaves some bands behind from time to time.

Hit: Strong Arm Of The Law

Hidden Gem: Dallas 1pm

Rocks In The Attic #198: AC/DC – ‘Let There Be Rock’ (1977)

RITA#198This album is such a quantum leap from Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, but it still doesn’t sound like the AC/DC of today. The production is more confident than the band’s previous two albums, but the overall sound comes across as noisy rather than channelled, as though the engineer and the producers made a few bad choices on the day of the recording, in terms of setting up the mics in the studio for the amps.

When I started listening to AC/DC in the early ‘90s they were terribly unfashionable. Just like Iron Maiden and Def Leppard, they were seen as relics of the ‘70s and ‘80s – something that just wasn’t relevant any more, to anybody. I couldn’t believe when I found a friend at college who liked the band too. I truly thought I was alone in liking them.

Then slowly, they started to become less of a laughing stock, and more of a valid influence on people. When I started DJing in the late ‘90s, I would slip the odd ‘DC track into my set, mainly to blank stares. Then something happened in popular culture – I’m not exactly sure what – but they suddenly became a very cool band to listen to. Each week, I started getting requests to play some of their stuff – and not specific songs either, just a “’Ere mate, you got any ‘DC?”, as though anything I could have played by the band would have sufficed.

Now, thanks to films like Iron Man featuring Back In Black (and its sequel featuring an entire set of ‘DC songs), the band seems to be everywhere. Now I just need to wait for that Aerosmith revival to happen…

Hit: Whole Lotta Rosie

Hidden Gem: Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be