Iron Maiden | The Number Of The Beast | A 35th Anniversary Retrospective
This retrospective dedicated to the memory of :
†Clive Burr† – March 8th, 1957 – March 12th, 2013
Original Label: Capitol Records / Harvest Records
Release Year: 1982
Country: United Kingdom
Genre: NWOBHM – New Wave Of British Heavy Metal
Band Members (Original Pressing)
Steve Harris – Bass
Dave Murray – Rhythm/Lead Guitars
Adrian Smith – Lead/Rhythm Guitars
†Clive Burr† – Drums
Bruce Dickinson – Vocals
Martin Birch – Producer
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Track Listing – Original 1982 Pressing
Children Of The Damned
22 Acacia Avenue
The Number Of The Beast
Run To The Hills
Hallowed Be Thy Name
Towards the middle to the end of the 1970’s it appeared that heavy metal music was on its last legs and headed to a early grave. With the over saturation of disco music in the United States and the rise of punk rock devouring the globe like a plague bands from the First Wave Of Heavy Metal or FWOHM were on their way out. Black Sabbath had finally gave Ozzy Osbourne his walking papers, the death of John Bohnam had all but ended Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple had imploded and Alice Cooper and others had all ran their course up to that point. Even Kiss had lost a lot of followers after they compromised and conformed to the pop culture of the day and released the heavily disco laden and much hated Dynasty with its song ‘I Was Made For Loving You’. The global Heavy Metal scene had seemed to be on ice and the Heavy Metal Community had become fractured and conflicted. However not for long.
Across the Atlantic Ocean in the United Kingdom in the epicenter of punk there would be a hidden ground swell of talent ready to shake the global community to its core and become the saviours of the heavy metal genre. This would be known as the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal or NWOBHM. Some would even argue and maybe rightfully so that this movement of heavy metal music was the true ground zero for the heavy metal genre. The class of NWOBHM would not only be a large on bt a serious game changer in the history of heavy metal. Bands like Motorhead, Witchfinder General, Angelwitch, Samson, Quartz, Tygers Of Pan Tang, Diamonhead, Def Leppard, Girlschool, Saxon, Raven and Iron Maiden to name a few would breathe new life into the Heavy Metal community worldwide. However it would be Iron Maiden that would carry the standard for the next 40+ years. Iron Maiden would also be perhaps ‘The ONLY Band’ that the entire heavy metal community no matter the 26 to 30 sub genres that 95% of all the people could really agree upon and Number Of The Beast helped solidify this fact.
Begun by Steve Harris in 1975 and enduring multiple lineup changes over the course of the next 5 years, Iron Maiden would release their self titled debut in 1980 Iron Maiden with Steve Harris – Bass , Dave Murray – Guitars , Paul Di’Anno – Vocals , Clive Burr – Drums and Dennis Stratton – Guitars. Their debut would be followed up with Killers is 1981 with the line up of Steve Harris – Bass , Dave Murray – Guitars , Paul Di’Anno – Vocals , Clive Burr – Drums and Adrian Smith – Guitars. Iron Maiden hit the road just as soon as their first album arrived in record stores; beginning in the UK before criss-crossing Europe in support of Kiss, and it was there that Dennis Stratton began distancing himself from his bandmates and even choosing to ride with the crew between gigs. This attitude simply would not fly with Harris and Maiden manager Rod Smallwood, who promptly fired Stratton at tour’s end and called upon an old mate of Dave Murray’s named Adrian Smith, who had recently given up on his own band, Urchin, and was ready to hop a ride on the Iron Maiden juggernaut and silence any doubters with his work on the band’s excellent sophomore album, ‘Killers.’
Iron Maiden’s membership troubles weren’t over yet, oh no! Now it was singer Paul Di’Anno’s turn to rock the group’s tightly run ship, as his once casual drug and alcohol use had grown increasingly at odds with Harris and Smallwood’s regimented schedule and tall professional expectations. So after mutually agreeing it would be in everyone’s best interest to go their separate ways, Maiden moved quickly to poach a promising young singer named Bruce Dickinson from their N.W.O.B.H.M. rivals Samson, and his powerful voice (along with Adrian Smith’s first songwriting) would indeed contribute to the breakthrough success of 1982’s ‘The Number of the Beast.’ The line up now would be as follows, Steve Harris – Bass , Dave Murray – Guitars , Bruce Dickinson – Vocals , Clive Burr – Drums and Adrian Smith – Guitars.
Number Of The Beast is the only album to feature songwriting by drummer Clive Burr. This is one of several reasons why the album was so different from previous ones other than the obvious change in lead singer. It was the first album with writing by Adrian Smith (see below track listing for details), and the first to feature writing by the ‘new’ Steve Harris (his older style had been written for different musicians, and in a different time) – the entire writing system was different. However, it is one of the few albums not to feature a Dave Murray song, and the first album not to feature an instrumental. It was widely panned by mainstream media upon its release, including Rolling Stone, who claimed that it “blusters along aimlessly, proving again that bad music is hell.”
It was also panned by social conservatives, especially in America. Due to its title, Iron Maiden was called a “Satanic band” in the US. Their Beast on the Road tour was marred by boycotts and protests. However, it was well received by Iron Maiden fans and is considered to be one of their best albums. All Music Guide, in its official review of the album -written by Steve Huey-, stated: “The Number of the Beast is quite simply one of the best heavy metal albums ever released”. The album was ranked number 17 on Guitar World’s list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Albums of All Time. In 2000 Q magazine placed the album at number 100 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever, and a year later the same magazine named it as one of the 50 Heaviest Albums Of All Time. In 2006, Q magazine placed the album at #40 in its list of “40 Best Albums of the ’80s”.[ The BBC made a documentary of this album in their Classic Albums series.
The album was also the centre of controversy, particularly in America, due to the lyrics of the title track and the cover art depicting Satan being controlled by Eddie. This cover art was originally intended for an earlier single, “Purgatory”, but the band felt the cover was too high of caliber for just a single and a less complex image was used for the single instead. The title track, “Number of the Beast”, was said not be a satanic song but was actually instead inspired by bass player Steve Harris’s nightmare about being trapped in Hell, triggered after watching Damien: Omen II. The album’s cover art has been parodied several times – by crossover thrash band Stormtroopers of Death for the cover art of their 1999 album Bigger Than the Devil, and on a T-shirt by underground New York Hip Hop Label Uncle Howie Records. Streetwear brand Diamond Supply Co. parodied the album cover for a shirt in their line. Nick Tershay, founder of Diamond is reported as having had to pay $50,000 due to the parody being too close to the original art work. The original 1982 artwork includes a light blue sky in the background; this was a mistake by the printers of the album cover, and was later rectified and became black when the album was remastered for compact disc in 1998.While the title track was thought by many to mean that Iron Maiden were Satanists, in fact the song was inspired by a nightmare bassist Steve Harris had, triggered by watching the film Damien: Omen II late at night. While he was quite scared of the Satanic images he saw in his nightmare, he also felt them amusing, and after that, he obtained the idea for the song, and also for the title of the album.
“Children of the Damned” is based on the films Village of the Damned and Children of the Damned, which in turn were adapted from the novel The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham. On a recent “Bruce Dickinson Rock Show” on BBC Radio 6, Dickinson told Ronnie James Dio that Children of the Damned was inspired by Black Sabbath’s “Children of the Sea”.
“The Prisoner” was inspired by the British TV show of the same name, and features dialogue from its title sequence. Rod Smallwood had to telephone Patrick McGoohan to ask permission to use the dialogue for the song. According to witnesses the usually calm Smallwood was completely star struck during the conversation. McGoohan was reported to have said “What did you say the name was? Iron Maiden? Do it.” Iron Maiden later made another song based on the series, “Back in the Village” from Powerslave.
“22 Acacia Avenue” is the second song in the “Charlotte the Harlot” saga.
The title track opens with a spoken introduction which draws heavily from the King James Version of Revelation 13:18, and is apparently inspired by Tam o’ Shanter by Robert Burns. Barry Clayton is the name of the actor who speaks those opening lines on the album.
On October 24, 2002, progressive metal outfit Dream Theater played the original album in its entirety at La Mutualite in Paris, France. The performance was recorded and has been released through the band’s YtseJam Records label.
“Run To The Hills” was covered on the all-star tribute album Numbers From The Beast, featuring vocalist Robin McAuley, guitarists Michael Schenker and Pete Fletcher, bassist Tony Franklin, and drummer Brian Tichy. The version slightly varied from the original, in terms of guitars, when Schenker added small solos.
“Hallowed Be Thy Name” & “The Number Of The Beast” was covered by Iced Earth on their album, Tribute To The Gods. Machine Head also covered it on the Maiden Heaven: A Tribute To Iron Maiden tribute album released by Kerrang! magazine in 2008. It was also covered by Cradle of Filth.
The album has also been used in several video games – “Run To The Hills” is featured on SSX On Tour as the opening theme, and a cover version is a track in Rock Band in which it is the only song on the disk listed as an ‘Impossible’ song for all the instruments. In addition, the master tracks of the songs “The Number of the Beast”, “Run to the Hills” and “Hallowed Be Thy Name” (the latter being a live recording found on Flight 666) were made downloadable to Rock Band as part of a 12 pack on June 8, 2009, and “The Prisoner” was made downloadable as part of the “Maiden Epics” pack on May 22, 2012. In Guitar Hero III, the hit song “The Number of the Beast” was featured. “The Number of the Beast” and “Run to the Hills” were also made downloadable to Rocksmith 2014 on November 5, 2013.
Now I want to take a journey through Iron Maiden’s Number Of The Beast with some highlights from each track where relevant to the album. This will be a literary attempt at a ‘Classic Albums’ series in a more verbal aspect.
‘Invaders’ is the opening track on Iron Maiden’s third studio album ‘The Number of the Beast’, released in March 1982. The reception of this song was fairly mixed, as many reviewers thought that this was one of the weaker tracks on the otherwise excellent album, and it was a poor decision to use as the opener. On the other hand, others have felt that this song has been overly criticized, saying that Invaders kicks things off to a great start with a fast pace and its collection of riffs. Some also think that while the pace and mood of the song are not to their liking, or they perhaps consider it dull, the epic tone of the lyrics about Norse warfare was approved of. Whatever the fans and reviews might say, Steve Harris himself, the writer of the song and the band’s bassist, has stated that the track was not good enough, commenting that it
“could have been replaced with something a bit better, only we didn’t have anything else to replace it with at the time. We had just enough time to do what we did, and that was it.”
Children Of The Damned
This dark and compelling track is inspired by the 1963 film of the same name, which is about six children with psychic abilities who are forced to battle for their survival against an inferior human race. The song describes the death of the last of the children, as he steps out to face the humans which are intent on destroying him by burning him at the stake. It is a deep and thought-provoking film, worthy of the song which it inspired…
A musical adaptation of the old BBC television series, The Prisoner. The song begins with Patrick McGoohan’s opening narration from the show.
Rod Smallwood, the band manager, was very nervous about calling Patrick McGoohan to get permission to use the quote. After bolstering up the courage to call McGoohan, he explained the proposition uncomfortably. McGoohan thought for a moment, than asked, “What was the band’s name again?” Rod, who was downright scared at this point, told him again. “A rock band, you say?” McGoohan continued thoughtfully. Suddenly, he commanded “Do it!” sharply before hanging up. The band cracked up at this afterwards.
The band got the opening narration from The Prisoner tapes owned by metal DJ Tommy Vance.
“Adrian took the solo on this one and it’s one of his favorites. It’s a very strong live number, although we don’t play it on the set now.”
22 Acacia Avenue
This is the second song in the Charlotte the Harlot saga – the first is “Charlotte the Harlot,” the third is “Hooks In You” and the fourth is “From Here To Eternity.” Charlotte is a hooker you can meet on 22 Acacia Avenue, and this song describes her life on the job. >>
On the cover of the album Somewhere in Time, the band’s mascot Eddie is standing on “Acacia Avenue.” In one of the windows, you can see Charlotte.
The Number Of The Beast
This song was influenced by the 1978 movie Damien: Omen II, which is about a 13-year-old Antichrist. It was written by Iron Maiden bass player Steve Harris, who explained: “Basically, this song is about a dream. It’s not about devil worship.”
Before the music starts, this opens with an a cappella quote from The Book of Revelation. The band wanted the horror film actor Vincent Price to read this intro, but he wanted more money than they were willing to pay (a year later, Price lent his voice to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”). The quote was read by an unknown thespian actor who had no interest in the band.
The number of the beast, according to Revelation 13:18 (the quoted scripture), is 666. Interestingly, 6+6+6 is 18, the number of the verse. Elsewhere in that chapter, it is stated that no man will be able to buy or sell without a mark on the right hand or forehead with the number of the beast on it. This has lead to religious zealots “finding” 666 in practically everything.
The cover art for the album depicted Iron Maiden’s mascot Eddie and a devil in vicious combat in Hell. The cover art for single depicted Eddie with a sinister grin on his face holding the devil’s head (See also: “Run to the Hills”).
During the recording of the album, there were rumors floating about that supernatural occurrences had been going on in the studio, such as lights flipping on and off, strange noises, visions of Satan, etc. This was used as evidence that Satan and the Antichrist had a hand in making this. In a concert at New York’s Palladium on June 29, 1982 (which is heavily bootlegged), Bruce Dickinson said:
“Just want to say to all the people who play records backwards and burn albums out in the streets, they can go and get… stick their heads up their arse or something like that, ’cause… we ain’t interested.”
On the cover art, just right of the devil’s ankle, is artist Derek Riggs’ signature: the unique symbol which contains his initials.
The tour accompanying the album’s release was called “The Beast on the Road.”
Lead singer Bruce Dickinson said of this song:
“We can play with conviction every night, because we totally believe in the music we’re performing.” This quote, along with the line “666, the one for you and me”
The Number of the Beast album surprisingly came top of a survey by music retailer HMV to find the UK public’s favourite British album during the Queen’s 60 years on the throne. The poll attracted almost 55,000 votes in the month preceding the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee via Facebook, including presumably a fair number of Maiden fans. An HMV spokesman commented: “The power of social media means there are one or two surprises.”
As he explained on the BBC Classic Albums series, Bruce Dickinson’s high-pitched scream at the end of the intro was a result of producer Martin Birch forcing the band to replay the intro several times. Dickinson became so fed up with the constant repeats that he emitted the scream out of frustration, and it fit so well that the band decided to keep it.
Run To The Hills
About the European arrival to the “New World,” told from the perspective of both the oppressed Cree and the invading Anglo-Saxon soldiers. The first verse (“White man came across the sea, he brought us pain and misery”) is from the point of view of the Natives. The second verse (“Chasing the redskins back to their holes, fighting them at their own game”) is from the white man’s eyes, and the last verse (“Selling them whiskey and taking their gold, enslaving the young and destroying the old”) is an impartial third-person narration.
Released as a single on February 12, 1982. The B-side was “Total Eclipse” and was the first single that featured Bruce Dickinson’s “air-raid siren” vocals. On December 2nd, 1985, a version of this recorded live was released as a single, with a live recording of “Phantom of the Opera” as the B-side.
The cover art for the single featured a Native American with an axe wrestling a devil in Hell. Considering the lyrics, this caused some controversy, as many interpreted this to mean the band was suggesting that the imperialistic whites were devils.
In 2002, this was re-released as a single to help promote a tour the band organized to raise money for former drummer Clive Burr, who suffered from Multiple Sclerosis.
This was Iron Maiden’s first Top 10 hit in the UK.
The single’s cover art had the same setting as the cover art for the album The Number of the Beast. They were both set in Hell, with a red humanoid devil and spiraling gray clouds against the night sky. Both were designed by Derek Riggs, who does most Maiden cover art.
The 1982 single charted at #7. The 1985 single (recorded live) charted at #26.
“I wanted to try and get the feeling of galloping horses. But when you play this one, be careful not to let it run away with you.”
The official biography of Iron Maiden, written by Mick Wall, is titled Run to the Hills.
This song was “covered” by Metallica on their 1986 mini-EP Garage Days Re-Revisited. At the very end of the last track, they fade out to the introduction of this song, and quite off key, as well. This was their nod to Iron Maiden, who were one of their New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) inspirations.
This is a rarity among the Iron Maiden library. This track is one of the more polarizing tracks on Number Of The Beast. It has been both well received by the critics and fans or totally slammed as a so called filler on the Number Of The Beast. “Gangland” is, along with “Invaders”, the song that gets classified as fillers by most people. I kind of disagree with that, but this one is still looked upon as a filler. A quite jazzy drum beat gives way to a very simplistic but catchy and quite heavy riff. The only thing wrong with this song is that it’s slightly repetitive and not quite up to par with the rest. I will leave this up to the casual fan or the die hard fan to come to their personal conclusions about Gangland.
Hallowed Be Thy Name
This song is about a man who is on death row and about to be executed, it is from the perspective of that man.
This song has been covered by Iced Earth and Cradle of Filth.
The live version of this song off of A Real Dead One was released as a single in 1993 after Bruce Dickinson announced he was leaving the band. The single’s cover shows Eddie as Satan stabbing Bruce to death with a triton. Killing the departing vocalist in album art was an idea that was also used on the cover of Maiden Japan in 1981 (with Eddie holding Paul Di’Anno’s severed head), as well as in the video of Bruce’s farewell concert with the band, “Raising Hell,” where horror illusionist Simon Drake appears to impale Bruce to death in an iron maiden torture device.
The 9th and final song on Iron Maiden’s hugely successful 3rd album “The Number of the Beast” (1982) At 7:12 it is the longest song on the album, as there are 2 long periods of instrumentals. The song starts off quite slowly, and increases the tempo as the story it tells progresses. It describes a man’s thoughts as he is sent to the gallows, the feelings of terror, confusion and realization to the fact that he really is afraid of death, contrary to his belief. The vocals end as the man is executed, followed by a long instrumental section, at the end of which are the man’s last words “Hallowed Be Thy Name” Truly an all time classic heavy metal song, from an all time classic heavy metal album, by an all time classic heavy metal band.
In a year that would of been Clive Burr’s 60th birthday I really wanted to cover this album as a retrospective. If Heavy Metal as a genre had seemed without a identity or struggling up to this point in history than all that struggle was over. From this pivotal album heavy metal music would not only fracture into several sub genres but also tell the mainstream we are hear to stay whether you like it or not. With little MTV play and almost no radio play Iron Maiden’s Number of The Beast certainly went on to solidify metal. It would also become one of heavy metal’s most successful and influential albums over its now near 50 year history.