Iron Maiden teamed up with Tim’s Twitter Listening Party for their 666th episode. No, they didn’t choose Number of the Beast for the party, they chose Powerslave. The classic 1984 album centered around Egyptian themes and of course one of their most classic albums. All the members of Iron Maiden (Bruce Dickinson, Steve Harris, Dave Murray, Adrian Smith, Janick Gers, and Nicko McBrain) gave their insight and some stories about the album. So throw on Powerslave and follow along with their commentary on the album.
Reminder, that all this information is from the Official Iron Maiden Twitter. Make sure to follow them there for all news and updates regarding the band! All the acronyms for who’s saying what go as follows: BD (Bruce Dickinson), SH (Steve Harris), DM (Dave Murray), AS (Adrian Smith), JG (Janick Gers), NM (Nicko McBrain).
SH: Hearing it without the Churchill’s Speech intro now is a bit odd, it should almost be there. People have heard it so many times live now that that’s the deal!
JG: It’s always been thrilling to come onstage playing Aces High, just an explosion of power at the beginning of any Maiden set. Short and to the point, with all the power of Maiden live in a short, concise song with a great theme.
2 Minutes To Midnight
BD: We wrote this on Jersey, where we were holed up in January and February, freezing cold, Atlantic gales lashing the whole place. We were in a hotel, ‘locked down’ ourselves pretty much, except the bar was open and it was free which was worrying…
BD: The song is about the glory of war and the despair and futility of war. It displays the best of humankind and also the worst of humankind in sharp focus.
AS: I started work on this in Jersey. I pretty much had the music written already & Bruce finished off the lyrics in Nassau. I remember AC/DC arriving at the studio just as we were leaving. Bruce collared Brian Johnson and we played him a rough mix
Losfer Words (Big ‘Orra)
DM: A great place. We hired a hotel to play and stay in. It was a quiet little island until we showed up!
SH: We were supposed to be there writing. I say supposed to, because mainly the first week or so we ended up getting pissed! We had the whole hotel to ourselves and it had a 24 hour bar… You’ve got to get into the vibe of things I suppose
BD: There was one TV, there was no internet, all there was to do was drink, go play some football, get very, very cold and windy outside and play music and write music all night long and all day long.
Flash Of The Blade
AS: A bit overlooked this one. I went a bit mad on the guitar overdubs!
NM: There was a bar that did a splendid banana daiquiri and great food like conch fritters. It was after about 5 of these drinks that I decided that I was going to jump in the sea and have a swim. It was a very rough ocean with some very big waves!
We had fun working with Martin. He was a character and great at what he did, had a certain sort of charm about him & a great sense of humour. But he was also a great ‘skipper of the ship’ if you like, because he had such an air of command about him.
SH: He had a way of getting what he needed or getting what he wanted from you in a performance without you realizing that he’d done it. There’s quite a knack to that, I think.
DM: A brilliant man who added his magic to the recordings, and always knew when we had captured the spirit of a song.
SH: He was such a character on days off. There weren’t many of them as he’d be working all hours concentrating and that takes it out of you. I was in there a lot of that time as well but I could nip off…
Back In The Village
SH: As far as we knew we were just on a festival bill. We didn’t really think much more of it. We weren’t headlining it. It was with Queen, which was fantastic anyway. I love their early albums, so to be on the same bill as them was an honour.
AS: We had a dressing room next to them. I heard them doing Bohemian Rhapsody acapella before they went on.
BD: There was an ironic message to Powerslave. When you had amplifiers powering a big PA system, you had ones just generating power and nothing else and they were called slave amplifiers because they were just slaves to the big amplifier… Powerslaves!
BD: I didn’t want to be obvious and Egypt seemed to be an interesting place to go because despite all the power you have as a Pharaoh you are still going to die. It’s almost like the regime was so pissed off at that thought that everybody had to die too.
SH: I think Bruce had two or three bits which ended up being the Powerslave song and I just said “Why don’t you put it all into one and make one great song out of it?” I don’t know if he remembers it like that but it’s how I remember it!
AS: When I recorded my guitar solo for this track, Robert Palmer was in the studio. Robert lived next door and he and Martin had been up drinking together all night.
SH: Powerslave was such a powerful title and powerful subject that it just felt right to use as the album title. It conjures all kinds of imagery. You’re also thinking what you’re going to do in the stage set and all that stuff too.
SH: The artwork has definitely stood the test of time without a doubt. But it’s such massive subject matter - Derek had to do it well, because if he didn’t it ends up being cheesy. It could be a fine line perhaps, but I think the artwork’s fantastic.
SH: On an album you can have loads of different diverse subjects going on. But if you’ve got an overall vibe and a feel of something… that’s what we always try and work for. That’s why a lot of people think our albums could be concept albums.
Rime Of The Ancient Mariner
SH: Mariner was written in the Bahamas. I had just an inkling of an idea but it wasn’t worked up in any way. I hadn’t got it done by the time we left Jersey so it felt like I was cramming for exams because I’d have had Master Birch on me!
BD: Steve was locked in his room for ages and ages and then turned up one day and said “I’ve got this song called Rime of The Ancient Mariner.” My jaw hit the floor and bounced off again and I went, “Huh? Samuel Taylor Coleridge? The epic poem?!
SH: It was a poem I’d done at school, mountains of verses going on, and we had to do a synopsis and try to cut it down and that’s what I had to do with the song. So many people said it helped them get through their exams on that poem which is nice!
BD: As I used to say on stage, this is what not to do if a bird shits on you!
JG: A fantastic song to play live. It has a very progressive feel and you have to keep your wits about you to play it. It’s complicated but very fulfilling to play and powerful live, with plenty of theatrical movements and elements. Simply thrilling.
Conclusion To Powerslave
I definitely have a newfound appreciation for Powerslave now. It’s so awesome for a band like Iron Maiden to drop new trivia and tidbits about a classic album like that. It makes me want more like this, especially for albums that might be lesser known about. If they did something like this for Somewhere In Time, I would just die!
So, what did you think of their live listen along on Twitter to Powerslave?
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