Iron Maiden are THE heavy metal band. Their popularity is on par with the likes of Metallica, and their back catalogue boasts more classics than Black Sabbath. And in honour of them announcing the release of the previously VHS-only and out of print live effort ‘Maiden England ’88′ on DVD/double live CD next month, here's a bunch of reasons Iron Maiden are awesome. As if you needed reminding.
1. They rock
There's a reason they're one of the biggest bands in the world- the quality of their songs. From the opening track of their self-titled debut right up to today, they've been consistently excellent. Out of 15 studio albums, you could point out maybe two or three duffers, and about ten that you can file under 'classic'. From the well-known singles like 'Run To The Hills', 'The Trooper' and 'Bring Your Daughter... to the Slaughter' to the brilliant album cuts like 'Children of the Damned', 'The Duellists' and 'Prowler', quality just seeps out of the records. Even during the leaner Blaze Bayley years they still managed to write some killer tunes, and when Bruce returned to the mic for 2000's Brave New World, they went from strength to strength. Four number one albums isn't bad either.
2. Eddie The 'Ed
Adorning every album cover, every t-shirt, and popping up at a moments notice, Iron Maiden's mascot is as iconic as the band themselves. He's been an Egyptian god, pilot, Alien, the grim reaper, you name it, he's done it and put it on a t-shirt. Not always the prettiest chap, he's the focal point for visual aspect of the band, and is just pretty damn cool.
3.They're universally liked
Heavy metal is a notoriously fickle and splintered music scene- when Slipknot and Slayer toured together there were often fights between the two groups (no guesses which side usually won), but Maiden are one of the few bands everybody likes. From India to Canada, from the balding dude in his fifties to the spotty teenage urchin, an Iron Maiden shirt is a rite of passage. If you don't like Iron Maiden, you don't like heavy metal. Fact.
4. They always deliver live
"SCREAM FOR ME [London/Birmingham/Rio/Walton-on-the-wolds]!!!!" . Frontman Bruce Dickinson's rally cry is as synonymous with the band as their Eddy the 'Ed mascot, and both make frequent showings at every concert. Which are always great. They even have their Boeing 757, piloted by Dickinson, which flies the band, the crew & gear, and even a few lucky fans, around the world. Massive sets that incorporate the album artwork, giant Eddies wandering around stage, they combine elaborate stage fodder with a brilliant performance from the band each and every night. Don't think much of the trousers they had in the 80's though…
5. Bruce Dickinson is a boss
In the 80s he was called the 'Human Air-Raid Siren'. He was ranked as no.7 in Great Britain for fencing. He's written dirty books. He flies Boeings in his spare time, and is an entrepreneur. There is literally nothing this man can't do. He even wrote a song inspired by a porno film called 'The Tail gunner' but decided he best change it to be about guys manning guns on planes, and not sex.
6. They're British
Once upon a time, Britain was full of classic heavy metal bands. Today, most have broken up, too old and past it, or are shit (looking at you, Bullet For My Valentine). As a bunch of lads from Leyton, east London, Maiden are reminder that Britain is the Alpha and Omega of heavy metal.
7. They don't rest on their laurels
Yes, they may have half a dozen greatest hits out, and yes in the last few years they've done tours and documentaries about 'the early days'. But Maiden don't really play up to the nostalgia thing. No matter who you are, it takes guts to play the entirety of your new record on tour, but that's precisely what they've been doing with the last few records. And both the fans and the press didn't seem to mind. They're always touring and always going to places that they've not managed to reach before; from Singapore, Indonesia and South Korea to Ecuador and Peru.
8. They're still going strong after almost 40 years
For a band that formed in 1975, they're still doing alright, no?
Maiden '88 will be released by EMI on the 25th March