SOUNDTRACK: IRON MAIDEN-Iron Maiden (1980).
Steve Harris was on That Metal Show recently. Harris is the bassist and primary songwriter for Iron Maiden and has been since their first album in 1980. When I was in high school Iron Maiden was my favorite band hands down. I had all their albums, I had all their singles, all their hard to find British vinyl 12 inch singles, even a few pictures discs. Wonder if they’re valuable?
Every album was an epic event for me–I even played “Rime of the Ancient Mariner “off of Powerslave to my English class (not telling anyone it was 13 minutes long).
And then, after Somewhere in Time, I just stopped listening to them. Almost full stop. I did manage to get the first four albums on CD, but the break was pretty striking. I actually didn’t know that they’d had personnel changes in the ensuing years. I’d vaguely heard that Bruce Dickinson left, and that others followed, but I don’t think I quite realized that they were back to their big lineup these days.
Anyhow, Harris was so earnest and cool that I had to go check out some of their new stuff. Which was okay. I’d need more time to digest, but then I had to listen to the first albums again.
And wow I had forgotten how much the first Iron Maiden album melds punk and prog rock into a wild metal hybrid. There’s so much rawness in the sound and Paul Di’Anno’s vocals, not to mention the speed of some of the tracks. And yet there’s also some epic time changes and starts and stops and the elaborate multipart Phantom of the Opera…. Wow.
The opening chords of “Prowler” are brutal. But what’s surprising is how the second song “Remember Tomorrow” is a lengthy song that has many ballad-like qualities, some very slow moody sections–although of course each chorus rages with a great heavy riff and a blistering solo. On the first two albums Paul Di’Anno was the singer. He had a fine voice (it was no Bruce Dickinson, but it was fine). What’s funny is that Bruce does the screams in “Remember Tomorrow” so much better in the live version that I forgot Paul’s vocals were a little anemic here.
However, Paul sounds perfect for the rawness of “Running Free” a wonderfully propulsive song with classic Harris bass and very simple metal chugga chugga riffs. And this has one of the first real dual guitar solos–with both players doing almost the same riff (and later Harris joining in on bass).
“Phantom of the Opera” is the band’s first attempt at an epic multi-secton kinda-prog song. It opens with a memorable, if slightly idiosyncratic riff and some wonderfully fast guitars/bass. There’s a great slow bit that morphs into an awesome instrumental soloing section with bass and twin guitars playing a wonderful melody.
“Transylvania” is an instrumental that is challenging but probably not one of the best metal instrumentals out there, although again when Dennis Stratton and Dave Murray play in synch solos it’s awesome. This track segues into “Strange World” a surprisingly trippy song (with effects that seem like keyboards but which aren’t). It’s slow in a “War Pigs” kind of way, but it doesn’t entirely break up the album, because there are other slow bits on the disc. It is a little out of place though.
Especially when “Sanctuary” blasts forth. True, it wasn’t originally on the album (in the UK), but man, blistering punk or what! “Charlotte the Harlot” was always one of my favorite songs (it taught me what a harlot was after all), it’s quite proggy, with a lot of stuttered guitar work and a middle section that features some loud and complex bass. The disc ends with the by now almost immortal “Iron Maiden.” A great raw riff opens the song, a harmony guitar partners it and the band blasts forth. Who even knows what the lyrics area about, the song just moves and moves–There’s even a great chaotic bass/drum break in the middle. And listening to the guitar noises in the solos at the end. Amazing. It’s quite the debut.
[READ: June 7, 2013] McSweeney’s #42
I have made it a point of (possibly misguided) pride that I have read every word in every McSweeney’s issue. But this issue has brought that to an end. As the title states, there are twelve stories in the book. But there are also sixty-one authors writing in eighteen languages. And there’s the rub. One of my greatest (possibly misguided) shames is that I don’t speak any other languages. Well, I studied Spanish and German, I know a few dozen words in French and I can read the Greek alphabet, but none of these would help me read any of these stories. So, at least half of this book I didn’t read.
But that’s kind of the point. The purpose of this book is to make a “telephone” type game out of these stories. Stories are translated from one language to another and then re-translated back into English. The translators were mostly writers rather than translators and while some of them knew the second language, many of them resorted to Google Translate or other resources to “read” the story. Some people read the story once and then rewrote it entirely, other people tried to be as faithful as possible to the original. And so what you get are twelve stories, some told three times in English. Some versions are very similar and others are wildly divergent.
I normally write about the stories in the issues, but that seems sort of beside the point as the original stories were already published and were selected for various reasons (and we don’t even see any of the original stories). The point here is the translation(s). So, in a far less thorough than usual way, I’ll list the contents below. (more…)
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