Iron Maiden’s Debut Album Showed the Band’s Potential | Album Review

I’m not doing an entire series where I review Iron Maiden’s studio albums because I don’t have all of them, but I have some of them, so might as well review what I have, right? First up is Iron Maiden’s self-titled debut album, which was released in 1980. The record store I bought the debut and Killers (1981) at had the price sticker on the albums, so I left them on because I didn’t want to risk ruining the cover. Founded by bassist Steve Harris, the line-up also included Dave Murray on lead guitar, Paul Di’Anno on lead vocals, Dennis Stratton on rhythm guitar, and Clive Burr on drums. Iron Maiden is one of the many bands that came out of the new wave of British heavy metal, but they’re one of the few that still kicks a**! Without further ado, let’s get on with the music!

I just noticed that the track list on the back cover is missing “Sanctuary,” oh well!

Before, there was screeching on the guitar, now there’s wailing on the guitar, which makes sense cause the song is called “Prowler.” What’s awesome and confusing about Iron Maiden is that their songs are made up of multiple different parts, so it sounds like two (sometimes three) different songs. At the one minute and 46 second mark, the tempo speeds up and it’s total chaos, before it slows down to the original tempo about a minute later. Not a bad track to start the album; who am I kidding, it’s a dang awesome track to kick off an album! “Out of winter came a warhorse of steel / I’ve never killed a woman before / But I know how it feels.” I love those lyrics from “Sanctuary,” and actually the lyrics in this song have a haunting vibe and I’m down for it. 

Not many lyrics for “Remember Tomorrow,” but this song is more about feel. There’s the soft parts, the chaotic parts, and the in-between parts; which they do in five minutes and 30 seconds. Di’Anno channels his inner Mr. Nice Guy on this track, instead of his usual tough punk guy persona. “Running Free” is mostly known for repeating the title over and over again, but props to the rhythm section for that groove, and rest in peace Clive Burr! I hated parts of “Phantom of the Opera,” where Di’Anno was jumbling a bunch of words together; you need a lyric book to understand what he’s singing. Oddly enough, I enjoyed the long instrumental section because it was only three minutes, which is nothing compared to the instrumental sections Maiden does now. Multiple things were happening at the same time, from the guitar parts, the bass, and drums, it was like a heavy metal orchestra.

The first time I listened to this record, I used the lyric book the album came with to determine the song order. Based on that, “Strange World” was supposedly next, so I had the lyrics ready to go. Then about three minutes in, I was like, “dang, how long does it take to start a song?” That was in February 2021, so flash forward to May 2021, I looked up the album on Wikipedia and found out that there’s an instrumental before “Strange World” called “Transylvania;” my mind was freaking blown! I’ve made peace with “Transylvania” since then, now that I know what the heck was going on. It also makes a nice transition into “Strange World,” which is cool.

Here’s the thing about Di’Anno’s vocals, he’s not the best singer in the world. He doesn’t have a whole lot of melody, but at least he’s not monotone. Similar to “Remember Tomorrow,” “Strange World” is all about the feel with the enchanting guitars and delicate bass line. “Charlotte the Harlot” is my favorite song on the album because the chorus is so dang catchy, and yeah, it’s about a prostitute, but who cares! I love the mood change with this song because it starts off intense like “I want you, let’s make love,” then morphs into a heartbreak song, but not for long! “There was a time when you left me standing there / Picking up pieces of love from the floor / Well Charlotte you left me alone in there / To make your ends as a bloody whore.” 

You know, for a track called “Iron Maiden,” it’s not very good! I don’t remember much, except for these lines in the chorus: “Oh well, wherever, wherever you are / Iron Maiden’s gonna get you, no matter how far.” It basically repeats the chorus and first verse over and over again. I think a few of their tracks were like that actually, but I got more annoyed with “Iron Maiden.” If you’re going to have a good instrumental section, at least have good lyrics to back it up.

Is this the best debut album of all time? No. Is it worth giving a listen? Yes. The debut of Iron Maiden shows the band’s potential and gives a taste of where their long instrumentals will go on future records. I could barely understand a word Di’Anno was singing, so it’s a good thing I had the lyric book, or else I would’ve been clueless. Maiden’s first two albums have a punk vibe because of Di’Anno’s vocal style: not much melody, but has attitude and it’s very straight-forward. I’m not a fan of punk singers, but I dig what Di’Anno brought to Maiden during his short time with the band. I’d give Iron Maiden’s self-titled debut 4 out of 5 stars.

Take care and see ya real soon!

Lana

34 thoughts on “Iron Maiden’s Debut Album Showed the Band’s Potential | Album Review

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  1. Great review Lana! I personally don’t know this one as I haven’t listened to anything that wasn’t Dickinson, but that is only because I don’t really listen to Maiden…yet. I will venture down that whole in the future, but for now I will just enjoy your reviews.

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words John! Maiden is not going away, so you’ve got time to digest them at your own pace. My reviews are not to convince people to listen to/buy the album, but instead to share the joy of music! You’ve got Priest, Queen, and Kiss on your plate anyways.

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  2. Good review! I remember buying this when it first came out, as well as all the singles. I love Di’Anno’s punky voice, Bruce is a better singer, but these early songs needed a bit of ‘rough’. Fun fact about ‘Phantom of the Opera’: the opening 25-30 seconds were used on a UK TV commercial for a sports drink called Lucozade back in ’85.

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    1. Thanks so much labarbaazul8067! You nailed it! Dickinson is a better singer, but Di’Anno’s brought an edge to those early Maiden tracks. I think after Di’Anno was gone, the band had to write their songs differently to suit Dickinson’s voice. I didn’t know that about the “Phantom of the Opera,” that’s pretty cool!

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  3. A cool look at a great album, well done! As much as Bruce Bruce is the voice of Maiden, to me, I still love the first two records for what they are – straight up great music executed very very well!

    Up the irons! \m/ \m/

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    1. Thanks so much Aaron! Some Maiden fans really gravitate towards the first two Maiden records, and I don’t blame them. Dickinson and Di’Anno had different singing voices, so the songs were written differently.

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      1. Yes, and it’s all great for what it is! Have fun collecting Maiden records! I am late to their albums myself, but I think they’re all here now. Well, studio anyway, definitely a few but not all the live stuff. It’s all good!

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      2. I’m glad you’re enjoying collecting Maiden! I hope you’ll collect more live Maiden records when you get the chance. I’m not a live album person, but I plan to buy more of their studio albums in the future. I’m just not in a rush to do so, however, as I want diversity in my collection, since I can’t afford many albums at the moment.

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      3. Yeah I made sure I got the studio records and I get the live stuff when I can, no rush. They’re great too, though, so it’s always worth it. Maiden is a whole other world – the live stuff is brilliant too…

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      4. Live albums are different story. Maiden though, they are a visual band, so it’s kind of hard for me to enjoy live albums, which is perfect for me since I can’t afford a lot of albums anyways haha. The only live album I have is AC/DC Live because that was a no brainer.

        The Maiden Night of Dead was tempting though since the setlist looked cool.

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      5. Yeah it’s the two CD set; I reviewed it in my AC/DC review series.

        Yeah the book looked so nice, even the Book of Souls comes in a hard book cover. Maiden really takes their album covers and packaging seriously (minus Dance of Death).

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      6. Absolutely! Where else can you find a setlist with “Sin City,” “Jailbreak,” and “Moneytalks”?

        You are so lucky! I heard the Book of Souls tour was incredible. I listened to the album once on youtube, and I’ve noticed that with long albums, they’re perfect for me while I’m doing work (especially since Maiden does a lot of long instrumentals). But I may feel indifferent towards it if I’m just relaxing because I get impatient easily.

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  4. Um, yes this is the best debut album ever 🙂

    And yes, I love every song on this album, but Charlotte the Harlot is definitely a standout to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The best debut album ever? You obviously haven’t heard Richie Sambora’s ‘Stranger in This Town;’ that is the best debut album in my opinion! 🙂

      That’s cool you like all of the songs, but “Charlotte the Harlot” is definitely the best track on the album.

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  5. The first two Iron Maiden albums are my favorites. “Sanctuary” is probably left off the track-listing because it wasn’t on the original UK version of the album. It was a single over there, so they added it to the album when it came out in the U.S. They did the same thing on Killers with the song “Twilight Zone.” I think Killers flows way better without “Twilight Zone”, and I’ve never had a version of their debut with “Sanctuary”, but I’d venture to guess it also flows better without it.

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    1. I know there are Maiden fans out there that prefer those first two Maiden records. Ah, “Sanctuary” wasn’t on the original UK version? That’s interesting. I’ll have to do a double take on my Killers album too, then. I know the two Maiden albums I bought from a local record store were used, but I never bothered to check how old were.

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      1. Yeah, I’ve got a European copy of the vinyl (for some reason). My castle CD has it though, and I like the album better without it interrupting the flow from the title track into “Prodigal Son.”

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