The History Of Iron Maiden -Part 1: The Early Years

For fans of old skool heavy metal and in particular Iron Maiden this exhaustive five hour plus 2 DVD collection of very early footage, documentaries, interviews and live performances is an essential purchase. The Iron Maiden story is so huge and eventful that this is only part one, so expect more to come. For now though through archive material and rare recently discovered film we can trace a musical journey that started as early as 1975.

On disc one we have three live shows. The first "Live At The Rainbow" was filmed in 1980. A few years before Bruce Dickinson became lead singer of the band, so 25 years ago it was Paul Dianno belting out the tunes. It may look dated now with the fashions and the way it was filmed, but the music has certainly stood the test of time. It's always good to see a band unashamed to wear tight leather trousers and studded tops without the merest hint of homo-eroticism. Songs played include "Ideas Of March" and "Killers". My own personal favourite is "Phantom Of The Opera" with it's complicated opening riffs and awesome drumming.

Two years later the band recruited Bruce Dickinson who brought a more theatrical flair to the live performances as displayed on Beast Over Hammersmith, which was filmed at the Hammersmith Odeon. This saw Maiden at their most flamboyant and outrageous. When they perform the song "Iron Maiden" it's preceded by an introduction describing it as a medieval instrument of torture. You can see how the guitar licks have been copied almost note for note by the Darkness. Maidens iconic mascot of menace Eddie also makes a welcome appearance on stage.

The third and final concert on this disc sees the lads at the Dortmund Festival in Germany and like the previous two it's direct, invigorating and very very loud with "The Number Of The Beast" a particular live favourite.

Disc Two opens with "The Early Days" which is a feature length 90 minute documentary. There's certainly plenty of input from the many ex members and current ones reciting fond memories of life on the road, the hectic touring and the egos of certain musicians. Steve Harris, the bass player, founded the the band and basically explains that Maiden were cockney chancer's with talent, drive and ambition who have always put the fans first. The artwork of the album covers and the origin of the demonic Eddie are duly explained. It's very interesting and revealing even if you're not a fan of these rockers.

Much more curious is a rare TV documentary of Iron Maiden from 1981 which is introduced by a young Danny Baker in glorious black and white. The live footage is excellent with an interview from the band themselves. Even more fascinating is a recorded document of Maiden live at The Ruskin. The picture quality is more like the kind you'd experience on an above average bootleg, but I like the raw primal performance of a band who knew how to please their audience.

This DVD also includes 5 promo videos, TV appearances and extensive artwork. If this is Part 1: The Early Years, I anticipate the release of Part 2 greatly. My fascination with Iron Maiden has only just begun

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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