Now and then it’s a necessity to close out current events, empty one’s head, and focus on great music. It can be so healing. With Iron Maiden, you’ll rock hard but you also might learn some history. Not many bands have the guts to adapt Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner to heavy metal!!!
So, my top 5 favorite Iron Maiden Albums.
- The Number of the Beast. Their first album with the inimitable Bruce Dickson as vocalist. And what a smash! Yes, “Gangland” and “Run to the Hills” are scorching rockers. But “Hallowed Be Thy Name” alone is nearly enough to bring this straight to number one. Heavy metal pensiveness!
- Powerslave. Oh yeah, the title tune is a must-listen anthem about the nature of pursuit and use of power by pharaohs and kings. Absolute power doesn’t end well and Iron Maiden can tell that story with red-hot electric guitars and lots of sweet solos! And then there’s the literary masterpiece rock experience, “Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” Epic overload. And “Aces High.” Now that’s a World War II history rocker. The
- The Final Frontier. Now this is gonna cause some controversy. For such a late-breaking album to land this high–I can’t expect to be in the majority here. But boy did they deliver. Nary a dull moment in another great album of rocking folklore and musings on the future. “Mother of Mercy” is an old-fashioned meditation on war that could have fit easily on a 1980s album. “Coming Home” is a terrific ballad with beautiful vocal work from Bruce.
- Somewhere in Time. “Wasted Years”!!! I wish I could remember the joy when I first heard that song. It’s another thinking rocker. “Alexander the Great” and “Sea of Madness” are little-known gems. And “Stranger in a Strange Land” is a fine piece of work.
- Fear of the Dark. This is by far the toughest choice. Fear of the Dark has some rough competition from Piece of Mind and Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. But when I think of the fun of “Fear of the Dark” in concert and how deeply it’s meshed with the band’s tone and ethos, I can’t deny it a position in the pantheon. And “Wasting Love”!!! There’s something just delightful about the band’s only love song in decades of rocking. Bruce really sings his heart out and the whole band shows that they’re so talented at rock balladry that they could have become another Van Halen if they wanted. But that was never their mission. Plus “Judas Be My Guide” packs such a punch! That fat, fat guitar tone is a revelation.
So, there it is. Until their next album arrives and I get out my handy internal music appraisal calculator again!