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Iron Maiden / The heavyweight versus featherweight battle in The Number Of The Beast

On 22 March 1982, Iron Maiden rewrote the Heavy Metal rulebook with the release of their iconic album The Number Of The Beast. While fellow NWOBHM members like Saxon, Diamond Head and Motörhead chugged along with solid and predictable releases, Maiden majestically took it to the next level.

Iron Maiden – The Number Of The Beast 40th Anniversary (Warner Music/BMG)

Release Date: 18 November 2022

Words: Brian Boyle

The Martin Birch produced classic saw the debut appearance of bolshie leader singer Bruce Dickinson who replaced the much-loved but unreliable Paul Di’Anno. It also marked the last outing with the drummer Clive Burr who sadly passed away in 2013.

With the band’s self-titled debut and follow-up still being regarded as go-to Maiden albums with their rebellious youth and vigour, TNOTB offered something a lot more luxurious, the first Heavy Metal all-killer, no-filler album. Now to celebrate its 40th anniversary, a triple vinyl reissue is being unleashed on Maiden’s ever-growing legion of fans.

But there is a spanner in the works.

Gone is the Adrian Smith/Clive Burr penned Gangland, and in its place goes Total Eclipse, a song Steve Harris always believed was superior, but a rushed decision on song selection meant it didn’t make the first team.

A decision that will no doubt divide opinion, but in boxing terms, it’s heavyweight versus featherweight, with Gangland being stretchered out of the ring. So whether it’s a case of putting things right, or Maiden manager Rod Smallwood eyeing up Santa’s sack, this album still achieved legendary status in its original guise.

As for the rest of it, well, they have more than stood the test of time. The supporting cast of Invaders, The Prisoner and 22 Acacia Avenue still continue to shock and awe and nail on the fact that the recruitment of Dickinson was one the shrewdest moves in music history.

But it’s the four big boys that truly are the album’s global representatives. The haunting chimes of Children Of The Damned and Hallowed Be Thy Name still make you feel like a teenage mullet-topped Metalhead who was engrossed in those wonderful macabre lyrics.

Iron Maiden - The Number Of The Beast
Iron Maiden 8211 The Number Of The Beast

The title track is the song that prompted mass burnings of the album in America by religious fruit loops convinced the band was in league with the devil. Of course, the galloping ferocity of Run To The Hills always evokes memories of the iconic performance video, with the studded arm of Dickinson laying down the law as he pummels out those terrorising lyrics “raping the women and wasting the men.”

As a Brucie bonus (pardon the pun), you also get Beast Over Hammersmith, a double live album recorded on The Beast On The Road Tour in 1982 and now unleashed on vinyl for the first time.

Besides being mainly Di’Anno era material, six tracks from this version of TNOTB made the set, despite the album being two days from the official release.

Everything on this 40th-anniversary edition has been public knowledge for donkey’s years, and many won’t feel the need to spend. But from a hardcore collector’s point of view, it’s a must-have no brainer.

All in all, a stirring look back to when a bunch of leather-clad east end Londoners called Iron Maiden set off on the road to world domination, and their crown has never slipped. They are still the high kings of Heavy Metal.

june

24jun7:00 pmIron Maiden, Dublin3 Arena

26jun7:00 pmIron Maiden, GlasgowOVO Hydro

28jun7:00 pmIron Maiden, LeedsFirst Direct Arena

30jun7:00 pmIron Maiden, ManchesterAO Arena

july

03jul7:00 pmIron Maiden, NottinghamMotorpoint Arena

04jul7:00 pmIron Maiden, BirminghamUtilita Arena

07jul7:00 pmIron Maiden, LondonO2 Arena

08jul7:00 pmIron Maiden, London * New Date *O2 Arena

The Number of the Beast + Beast over Hammersmith:

LP 1
The Number of the Beast
Side A:
Invaders
Children Of The Damned
The Prisoner
22 Acacia Avenue

Side B:
The Number Of The Beast
Run To The Hills
Total Eclipse *
Hallowed Be Thy Name

*Replaces “Gangland” from original vinyl release

LP 2 – Beast over Hammersmith
Side C:
Murders In The Rue Morgue
Wrathchild
Run To The Hills
Children of The Damned
The Number Of The Beast

Side D:
Another Life
Killers
22 Acacia Avenue
Total Eclipse
Transylvania

LP 3 – Beast over Hammersmith
Side E:
The Prisoner
Hallowed Be Thy Name
Phantom Of The Opera
Iron Maiden

Side F:
Sanctuary
Drifter
Running Free
Prowler

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