This was Iron Maiden's first full-length studio album, although it contains a couple of re-recorded versions of tracks from The SoundhouseTapes. Most of the songs on this album had been played by the band during the previous several years during their endless series of small gigs at various clubs and pubs around London. For this reason, the album contains a wide range of material that is not really unified into any specific theme or style. The sound is also a bit different from the later albums to which most Maiden fans are accustomed, but after several listens their unique power and depth begin to sink in. This is particularly astonishing because although Will Malone was officially the producer for the album, he never contributed much and the album production was mostly done by the band and the recording engineer. So although the production is a bit primitive, the album virtually explodes with raw energy and power. Several of these tracks have become Maiden classics and still almost mandatory at every Maiden concert.
The cover picture above is that of the original CD version of the album. The comments by Steve Harris were taken from an interviewwith John Stix in July 1983.
Despite being about a sicko who likes to lurk in the shadows and flash women, this song has an incredibly catchy tune. The lyrics are somewhat shallow and probably reflect what most Rock bands were mainly singing about at that time – although this hasn't changed much nowadays! It is however a very good song thanks to its melody and raw power. It was first recorded on the legendary Soundhouse Tapes, but this album version is re-recorded at a faster tempo and is far superior to the Soundhouse version. Its instrumental and guitar solo are great, making it one of the most enjoyable songs on the album.
'Prowler' is a very special song for us. When we made the Soundhouse Tapes we took the actual tape to Neal Kay who was a D.J. in north London. He used to have a heavy metal chart which was compiled from record requests and printed in the magazine Sounds. 'Prowler' got to be number one just from requests for the demo tape. That's why we had the tape made into a record, because so many kids were asking us how hey could get hold of the demo tapes.
Sanctuary (Harris, Di'Anno, Murray)
"Sanctuary" first appeared on the Metal For Muthas compilation, and it did not appear on the UK/European version of the album until the 1998 re-release. It was Maiden's second single, which rose as high as number 29 in the U.K. charts. It is a fast and energetic song about a criminal fugitive from the law (a theme that later appears on several other Maiden songs including "'Murders In The Rue Morgue", "Innocent Exile", and "The Fugitive').
The sentence "I've never killed a woman before but I know how it feels" is quite intriguing. To whom does this refer? Could it be that this is about Eddie murdering Maggie Thatcher, as depicted on the single's sleeve? This is however quite unlikely, as the illustration was in fact drawn after the song was written and this particular sentence was the one that inspired Derek Riggs to paint the murdering Eddie.
'Sanctuary' was released as a single in England but it wasn't on the British album. It was done at the same time as the first album, but we didn't release a single in the States so we thought we'd add an extra track on the album. It's a rockin' number. We still play it.
In any case, this song can certainly be linked to the story of "Murders In The Rue Morgue", where two women were killed and the accused murderer ended up on the run. Whether this is due to the killing or just to the witnessing of the slaughtered bodies, it is clear that the character of the song has lost his mind – he is after all "laughing at the wind and howling at the rain"...
After the guitar solo there is a very realistic sounding police siren, which has probably given many drivers a bit of a scare on the road. "Sanctuary" has always been a live concert favourite, and hundreds of different versions exist on various concert bootlegs.
Remember Tomorrow (Harris, Di'Anno)
According to Di'Anno, this song is about his grandfather, although the meaning of the lyrics is somewhat obscure. It is a relatively slow-tempo song, with both acoustic and power guitar parts and another great instrumental and solo.
Some people have suggested that Di'Anno's grandfather may have been a Royal Air Force pilot during World War II. This is illustrated by sentences like "the clouds take me higher" (the pilot's view from his aircraft), linked to "I shall return from out of the fire" (the hope of the pilot that he'll survive the combat). Moreover, "Out in the madness the all seeing eye/Flickers above us to light up the sky" may refer to the searchlights during a bombing raid. Although there is no evidence that this is true, it does make sense somehow.
This song is an old stage favourite. The crowds used to be really into this one. Paul Di'Anno wrote the lyrics to it. I wrote the music. Actually I played him the parts I had and he worked it out. There's a lot of feeling in this song. Mind you I think any song should be filled with feeling. But on the slow parts of this one I think there is that extra measure.
Running Free (Harris, Di'Anno)
"Running Free" was Maiden's first single, and is still a Maiden classic and one of their most memorable songs. It is a very simple song by Maiden standards, with a repetitive tune and chorus, but it still manages to convey some energy. "Running Free" is a much better song when played live, and indeed it has been a concert staple over the years. Despite all that, this song is far from being one of the best on this album – it's just a bit too simple and repetitive to make it a really good Maiden composition. Early versions of this song had a guitar solo by Dave Murray, but for some reason the solo was dropped before the album was released. That's a shame because the solo added an interesting spark of energy that now seems to be lacking.
'Running Free' came together when I put a riff to the main drum beat by Doug Sampson. The part in the middle I worked up from a bunch of bits I wrote. We thought we'd try and do something a bit different. Most songs have a guitar solo in the middle. We always tried to do things a little differently. We thought instead of a guitar solo we'd have a guitar break which would consist of guitar runs and harmonies.
The story is basically that of a runaway American teenager who hitch-hikes his way through the country in pursuit of fun (of course, this could happen in any other country). It is not clear why he spends a night in a Los Angeles jail (maybe just for the rime!), although one may suspect that the vagrancy laws of California are somewhat tougher than those in Britain. Nevertheless, he successfully manages to pick up a girl at some bar called The Bottle Top, which has probably angered the "natives", as "all the boys are after [him]". He doesn't seem to mind, but quite on the opposite seems to enjoy it. There are some wild youths who like to live dangerously!
Paul Di'Anno was asked what "Running Free" was about by Shan Siva, of battlehelm.com, and here's his answer:
"'Running Free' is about me as a kid. My mum ruled my life, but she said to me, 'You live in a shit area, but do what you can do and see what happens... As long as you don't hurt anybody, just get on with it'. But I did get into trouble with the law a few times and that's the only thing I wish I could change... The grief I gave my poor mama. I never really knew my real dad, but my step dad was really cool. Sometimes, he'd surprise us and walk in when we were doing some speed, but he'd just brush it off as long as it wasn't heroin or the hard shit. I don't have the same attitude with my kids, though – if I catch 'em with anything I'll kick the crap outta them."
Yet another interesting story by master story-teller Paul Di'Anno. Is there any truth in this? Probably somewhere.
Phantom Of The Opera (Harris)
This song is inspired by the 1910 classic novel of the same name by French author Gaston Leroux(1868–1927), on which the famous broadway show by Andrew Lloyd Webber is also based (go see it, it is really great). The story is basically one of love, fame and jealousy, with a gruesome character who has his lair deep under the Paris Opera House, and who perpetrates dark deeds for the love of a woman.
The Opera ghost really existed. He was not, as was long believed, a creature of the imagination of the artists, the superstition of the managers, or a product of the absurd and impressionable brains of the young ladies of the ballet, their mothers, the box-keepers, the cloak-room attendants or the concierge. Yes, he existed in flesh and blood, although he assumed the complete appearance of a real phantom; that is to say, of a spectral shade.
The Phantom, Erik, is someone whose ugliness forces him to live as a recluse away from mankind. However, his thirst for love is a strong as that of any other human being and only wants to be loved for himself. When he falls in love with Christine Daaé, a talented and beautiful young opera singer, his feelings are torn between the love he has for her and the jealousy he feels towards her fiancé, the Viscount Raoul de Chagny, and the rest of "the human race". The writing style of the novel is slightly outdated, and it is certain that, narrated by Stephen King, the novel would have been over twice as long and with more gruesome details. However, Leroux manages to captivate the reader and to unfold the story before our eyes in the most interesting manner. Those who love to read will enjoy this book.
This is a very long song that was done in sections. The middle part was totally separate but it fit in very well. It felt right to go from the slow part into the middle section. 'Phantom' is one of the best pieces I've ever written, and certainly one of the most enjoyable to play. It's got all these intricate guitar lines which keep it interesting. Then there's the slow middle part which creates quite a good mood. It's also got fast heavy pars which are really rockin'. And it's also got areas for crowd participation. It pretty much covers all the bases for the band. It was also a good example of what I wanted to get across.
Many films have been made about this novel and the 1974 Brian De Palma film, Phantom of the Paradise is also inspired by the same story that the director transposed to a more modern setting (for the time anyway!).
In any case, this is one of Maiden's greatest songs, and many fans' favourite of all time (next to "Hallowed Be Thy Name"). The instrumental section slowly builds from a soft and slow guitar solo into a driving rhythm which builds and builds and finally climaxes with two of the most enjoyable guitar solos ever, after which it unbuilds back the way it came. It is impossible to describe it adequately, and has to be heard to be believed. If you buy the CD only for this song, it will be well worth it.
The Phantom of the Opera (Le Fantôme de l’Opéra in French) is a French novel by Gaston Leroux. It was first published as a serialization in Le Gaulois from September 23rd, 1909 to January 8th, 1910. It is believed to have been inspired by George du Maurier's Trilby. It was translated into English in 1911. It has since been adapted many times into film and stage productions, the most notable of which was Andrew Lloyd Webber's 1986 musical, which is now the longest running Broadway show in history, and the most lucrative entertainment enterprise of all time.
Phantom of the Paradise is a 1974 cult film written and directed by Brian De Palma. The story is a loosely adapted mixture of Phantom of the Opera, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Faust. The film's tagline is: "He's been maimed, framed, beaten, robbed and mutilated. But they still can't keep him from the woman he loves."
Jonathan Harker's Journal 3 May. Bistritz. Left Munich at 8:35 P.M, on 1st May, arriving at Vienna early next morning; should have arrived at 6:46, but train was an hour late. Buda-Pesth seems a wonderful place, from the glimpse which I got of it from the train and the little I could walk through the streets. I feared to go very far from the station, as we had arrived late and would start as near the correct time as possible.
Written over a period of several years, beginning in 1890, Stoker's masterpiece, Dracula, was published by Archibald Constable in 1897. The book has continued to grip the public's imagination ever since, and it has never been out of print since its publication.
Other than the title, there aren't any clues to what the song is about. Transylvania, however, is a real place located inside modern-day Romania. It was made famous as the setting for Bram Stoker's (1847–1912) classic vampire novel Dracula, which has been made into numerous movies, the best of which being probably Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992), directed by Francis Ford Coppola.
It is likely that the song was somehow inspired by the Dracula story, itself inspired by the life of Vlad Tepes, the ruthless ruler of Wallachia in the 15th century. It is not clear why Stoker used this historical character as a basis for his story, as there is no evidence that the man was drinking any human blood depite all the atrocities he committed.
The initial idea on this one was to have lyrics. It originally had a melody line for the vocal, but when we played it, it sounded so good as an instrumental that we never bothered to write lyrics for it.
Transylvania (Romanian: Transilvania or Ardeal, Hungarian: Erdély, German: Siebenbürgen, see also other languages) forms the western and central parts of Romania. Transylvania was a principality during the Middle Ages.
Most of you are probably aware of the fact that when Bram Stoker penned his immortal classic, Dracula, he based his vampire villian on an actual historical figure. Stoker's model was Vlad III Dracula (called Tepes, pronounced tse-pesh); a fifteenth century voivode, or prince, of Wallachia of the princely House of Basarab.
This collection of essays featured originally on the – quite sadly – now defunct Pathway to Darkness website (www.pathwaytodarkess.com). As most of them are brilliantly written, I wanted to give them the chance of another life here.
We all hate cannibals, but for some inexplicable reason, everybody loves a vampire. OK, maybe it's explicable. Vampires have a lot going for them. The eternal life thing is a big plus. And the wardrobe kicks ass. Super-powers, sleeping in, pointy teeth, sex appeal... Vampirism is a sexy thing, and the dismemberment of victims is strictly optional. Who wouldn't love it?
Dracula (1897) is a novel by Irish author Bram Stoker, and the name of the world's most famous vampire character. Dracula has been attributed to many literary genres including horror fiction, the gothic novel and invasion literature. Structurally it is an epistolary novel, that is, told as a series of diary entries and letters. Literary critics have examined many themes in the novel, such as the role of women in Victorian culture, sexuality, immigration and folklore. Although Stoker did not invent the vampire, the novel's influence on the popularity of vampires has been singularly responsible for scores of theatrical and movie interpretations throughout the 20th century.
Bram Stoker's Dracula is a 1992 horror film and romance film produced and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker. It starred Gary Oldman, Keanu Reeves, Anthony Hopkins and Winona Ryder. The original musical score was composed by Wojciech Kilar.
Tagline: Love never dies.
It's one of the only sort of slow songs we've done. But it's got a lot of feeling. It used to be a stage favourite. Dave really enjoyed playing the solo on this one. We may bring it back in the future.
A mostly acoustic song, this is a re-recording of the version that first appeared on the Soundhouse Tapes in 1979. Although this version of "Strange World" is excellent, it doesn't seem to have improved much from the Soundhouse version. Nevertheless, it is a great slow-type song whose
style is quite similar to that of "Remember Tomorrow", with dream-like lyrics.
Many people wonder about the origins of the lyrics of "Strange World". Some like to link it to "Transylvania", since they are obviously overlapping musically on the album, but this song doesn't seem to be related to the vampire theme. The "plasma wine" mentioned in the lyrics could somehow relate it to some sort of blood-drinking creatures, but are we talking about the same plasma? Moreover, "Transylvania" was supposed to have lyrics at first, weakening furthermore the supposed link between the two songs.
Dreamscape by Karen Jones
Some could also say that the song is just about getting high, but it doesn't seem to be enough either, since it doesn't explain why the whole feel of the song is so sad. If you consider the "never grow old" phrase, it sounds like an ideal situation: being able to get a grip on reality, trying to pause time and cheer the unique feeling of the moment you're living. Of course, this is quite impossible since time runs wild and quick and no one can really grasp it. That's why the song could also be about getting in a state of mind where one can believe he can pause time, while knowing at the same time that it's a pure temporary illusion, hence the depressed music.
The song can therefore be interpreted in several ways, like a piece of poetry. It seems to have no true meaning, but it is all down to how you view it. Some may think it's about dreams, but others may see it as something else.
This is one of my absolute favourite Iron Maiden tracks. I just love this kind of slow and relaxing song, and, as good as the later work by H and Dave may be, this one also has my favourite guitar solos.
Anyway, I've got a personal interpetation of the lyrics, based upon my own experience. Don't we all sometimes want to escape from this world, which is quite an ugly place sometimes? Do we really want to read all those newspaper headlines which seem to try and outdo each other in how many deaths there are to report, what dirty scandals there are and at how stupid, ignorant and egoistic people are?
Isn't it also because of precisely that reason that people try to flee to other places? Many take refuge in more spiritual worlds, which exist at many different levels.
Some take drugs, because it is the easiest way.
Some get themselves involved in strange Science Fiction and Fantasy worlds. There is no prize for guessing why books and films of that genre, particularly those that build up a precisely detailed parrallel world, such as Middle Earth or the Star Wars galaxy, are so successful.
Let me elaborate this a bit further. Fantasy worlds are nothing new, they have been around ever since mankind exists. They represent the ideal worlds which we would like to live in (at least when you make one up yourself). The Bible or Homer's Odyssey are basically nothing but ancient fantasy tales, told to give lost souls some point of fixation. All (or at least most of) these fantasy tales tell of noble, strong and glorious heroes who are ready to sacrifice themselves for higher goals. When we hear/read/see medieval tales, for instance, we are told of noble knights slaying dragons to save and marry the princess. No matter how realistic these tales may be told, they are fantasy. These glorious heroes have never existed. It is make-believe so we have someone to look up to, to identify with and to imitate. We crave for something or someone ideal to identify with and to compete with.
In addition, some people make up their own Fantasy worlds. There is always some sort of competition between those people who make up their own worlds and those who dive into a prefixed fantasy world and learn all the details, some eventually knowing the made-up world better than the one they physically live in.
What I think is that in the song, the narrator takes refuge in such a strange world of his own where he finds ideal conditions, with stalks of light and love. In the first verse, he describes his life in the real world, where he is unhappy; people don't reason why, he does not find very many smiling faces... so, he invites whoever might listen to his own world ("let's walk in deepest space"), in which he is actually already deeply engaged, with only his physical body still remaining in the real world ("Here I am, I'm not really there").
In the second verse, he is describing his strange world in detail, with all its miracles and wonderful things, anything he might want to dream of. Perhaps the "girls drinking plasma wine" are an implication that his engagement in his world is sucking his energy out of the real world so that in time, his real self will be nothing but a physical body, with his mind and soul locked in the strange world forever (this makes me think of the line "All my life's blood is slowly draining away / And I feel that I'm weaker every day" from "Still Life"). It doesn't seem to bother him, however, as he is "happy in [my] new strange world" (which, in order to contradict The Saint, I believe to be the key phrase of the song).
The last line, "Don't you hear me call?" could mean two things. Either, he is calling all people to come with him and join him in the better world. Maybe it could also be a silent cry for help, because he realizes that he is trapped in a world of fantasy and has lost all connection to the real world, which would mean that he is at best a ghost in our world, and he has found that it doesn't work this way either. This could make sense considering the line "When I cry there isn't a sound".
Perun (from the MaidenFans forum) – 26th June 2005
This is a more down-to-earth analysis. I think this song/poem is about getting high. Rather than sad, to me the song has a slowed-down and distorted feel. Like things might seem under the influence of drugs.
The only place where you can dream,
a state of mind Living here is not what it seems
where things are different from reality. Or rather they are real compared to the world we think is real. Ship of white, light in the sky,
A ship of white can either be a cloud of smoke (light in the sky) or a metaphore for thought. A cloud is in some works of art traditionally interpreted as a vehicle. In this case for getting somewhere where there is Nobody there to reason why
that is, everything is peaceful and complacent. Here I am, I'm not really there,
another mention of overlapping dream and reality Smiling faces ever so rare
in real life there is not enough kindness among people, and therefore Let's walk in deepest space, Living here just isn't the place
Now comes a description of the Strange World, which has some images that remind of reports about the influence of narcotica. Seeing light, not hearing one’s own cry, happiness, exuberant feelings, illusions of love, of being immortal. An interesting thing is seeing all sorts of funky colours, Girls drinking plasma wine
which may refer to the green colour of mineral called plasma.
The last line, Don't you hear me call?
is either a cry for attention or for help. In this case, both would be appropriate.
Charlotte (from the MaidenFans forum) – 28th June 2005
Charlotte The Harlot (Murray)
This is really Dave's song. I would have been proud to say that I'd written it. I like playing it live because it was something different than I would write.
This is the first song in what became a series of Charlotte songs, which describe some of the pain and emotion involved with having a prostitute for a girlfriend. Although overshadowed by "22 Acacia Avenue", this is still a good song in its own right. "Charlotte The Harlot" was later re-recorded as a B-side to The Evil That Men Do single in 1988.
The questions, "who was Charlotte the Harlot? Did she really exist?" have been asked time and time again to the Maiden boys, but no clear answer ever passed their lips. Only when the question was popped by Shan Siva, of battlehelm.com, to Paul Di'Anno a few year ago, did we get some idea about who she might have been. Here's what Paul said:
"Yep, it's true. Her real name is High Hill Lil and she's basically an old prostitute. Well, actually she was more of a slut, ha ha! I mean, if you turned up to her house with some booze or some speed you were more or less guaranteed a lay. She was a legend in Walthamstow, everyone knew her... She was about 45 but a real rock out bitch... She'd take any guy from 15 upwards, ha ha! The song says that she lived on Acacia Avenue but it's actually Markhouse Road, just before you go into Leyton 'cause that's the area where I lived."
Paul is known to have said things that weren't entirely true or accurate, so this information needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. In any case, this is some element of answer for whoever's interested in knowing whether Charlotte was a real person or not.
Interesting picture: A B-26 Marauder of the 319th Bomber Group.
This plane went down over Italy in 1943 after being hit by flak.
"Charlotte The Harlot show me your legs"
Iron Maiden (Harris)
As long as I can remember we've closed our set with this song. It's quite simple. The bass line is fairly straightforward as is the drumming. But the guitar is over the top with harmony, and the bass is descending behind it. I think this makes it pretty special.
Another classic Maiden song, this is a mandatory song at all Maiden concerts. It was first recorded on the Soundhouse Tapes and, although this re-recorded version is much superior to the Soundhouse version, it still doesn't make it a very good song by Maiden's standards. There isn't any guitar solo, and the lyrics seem quite strange. It is hard to understand how such a medium-quality song has become the band's trademark song over the years.
Note that an "Iron Maiden" was a medieval torture instrument looking like a sarcophagus, and whose "door" was embedded with sharp spikes. It was usually used vertically and the victim was put inside before the door was allowed to slowly close under the influence of its own weight. What a horrible way to die! More recently, "Iron Maiden" was the nickname of Margaret "Maggie" Thatcher who was head of the Conservative party in the U.K., then elected Prime Minister of Britain around the time the band started. She appears on the cover sleeves of the Sanctuary and Women In Uniform singles.
The history of torture records many devices that worked on the principle of the anthropomorphic container with two doors, fitted with spikes on the inside that pierced the victim upon the doors being shut. The most famous example has always been the so called "Iron Maiden of Nuremberg", destroyed in the air raids of 1944.
It is difficult to separate legend from fact concerning this contrivance because most published material is based on nineteenth century research distorted by romanticisms and by fanciful popular tradition.
She was born Margaret Hilda Roberts on 13th October 1925, in the north Midlands town of Grantham, the youngest daughter of a grocer, Alfred Roberts, who held a number of part-time political positions and eventually became the town's alderman. His enthusiasm for public duty, as well as his reverence for education, thrift, and hard work, were of undeniable influence on his daughter's early formation, and in later years they would become central tenets in her political thinking. Although Thatcher would claim a disadvantaged background, the Roberts household was not poor, rather one of "aggressive thrift" with a "pervading sense of poverty, if not the painful fact of it."
Essentially the song is about Iron Maiden and their gigs. "Won't you come into my room" is inviting fans in to the gigs, the room being the concert hall or more likely pub venue given the era when this track was written. "I wanna show you all my wares" is Maiden saying they want to play their music and entertain and show what they can do. "I just want to see your blood, I just want to stand and stare" refers to the time when the then lead singer would draw a sword through his mouth and bite on a fake blood capsule, or it may refer to the extrapolation of this when red paint or dry ice was poured through the first Eddie head up above the drummer on stage. "See the blood begin to flow, as it falls upon the floor" again continuing the stage dramatics of the sword in the mouth or Eddie head sets. "Iron Maiden can't be fought, Iron Maiden can't be sought" is similar to the chorus in saying don't try to stop Maiden or avoid listening because Maiden will be successful come what may and you will eventually love Maiden if you give them a fair crack of the whip. That sentiment continues into the chorus with "Oh well, wherever, wherever you are, Iron Maiden's gonna get you no matter how far" again saying Iron Maiden are going to be successful everywhere, showing the determination of Steve Harris to succeed. "See the blood flow watching it shed up above my head" Again referring to the Edde stage set. "Iron Maiden wants you for dead" Means Maiden wants everyone to be fans and will stop at nothing to get it.
Fairly crude, in the rough sense, lyrically, but the meaning gets across.
Terry "Eddie’s Head" Taylor, Maiden fan since 1980 – 27th October 2006