Friday 5th June: Unless I’ve actually been to a gig, so far this year I haven’t been able to find the time (or, perhaps, had the inclination) to blog as much as I did last year. Although I’ve read plenty of books and probably bought more CDs than I should have, I’ve yet to rediscover my “muse” for reviewing and I doubt that many people would be interested in lists of what has moved off my to read list or made their way into my music collection.
Today, however, I bought the CD version of an album that I considered to be one of my favourites, despite not hearing it for probably the best part of two decades. If not more. Would it stand the test of time?
First, a bit of background. My interest in music can probably be said to have started mid-way through secondary school. At that time, as the 70’s were being replaced by the 80’s, the friends I knocked around with started getting into the newly resurgent heavy metal and rock. Albums by AC/DC, Motorhead, Led Zeppelin, Rush, Meat Loaf and many more were being snapped up and (my thoughts on piracy from a couple of postings back notwithstanding) being copied to tape and passed around. It took me a little while but, eventually, I decided that I liked some of this stuff (or, at least, that I was ready to hop on that particular bandwagon) and started some of the albums myself. I started off with Rush: Archives, a combined release of their first three albums and that was about as heavy as I got. I could never get the hang of the likes of AC/DC or Motorhead and, since then, haven’t really got into slash metal or its ilk.
As an aside, it wasn’t long after that my friends moved onto the likes of Supertramp, Fleetwood Mac and Jethro Tull and it was at that point that I decided I was going to like whatever I wanted to, rather than following any trends. And that, gentle reader, is why my CD collection contains a relatively wide range of music and why my last trip to HMV saw me walking out with albums by Deep Purple, Gabriella Cilmi, Fleet Foxes and the soundtracks to High School Musical 1 and 2.
(Oh, wait, those last two weren’t for me but for my daughter. Honest…!)
Anyway, although I said that Rush were about as heavy as I got, the actual heaviest was probably Iron Maiden. To the best of my recollection, I never actually bought any of their albums but I did own a few singles and had taped copies of both Killers and The Number of the Beast. While the latter is good, I remember the former blew me away. I don’t, however, remember why or, far that matter, what actually happened to the tape. For years I’ve thought that I should buy a copy, but never got round to it. Until today, when I saw it in ones of HMV’s 2 for £10 offers.
It’s said that your school years are the best time of your life. It’s probably true. I have to admit, though, that there have been a few things from that time that I have revisited only to be disappointed. I loved E.E. “Doc” Smith’s Lensman books when I read them (aged about 15) but couldn’t even get through them when I tried to re-read them as an adult. Tom Baker’s reign as Doctor Who was essential viewing when I was younger, then UK Gold repeated them and I was almost embarrassed to admit that I once liked them. I fairly recently watched Close Encounters of the Third Kind on DVD and was surprised how naff it looks now. I guess that’s part of the joy of growing older and getting more cynical.
As another aside, there are two hours of TV that stand out for me as the most gripping episodes of anything I have ever watched – the second episode (I think) of Midnight Caller (a relatively obscure American show broadcast in the UK on a Saturday night) and an episode of the original Survivors in which a character with learning difficulties is put on trial. I almost daren’t watch either of these again in case they, too, disappoint.
Anyway, as soon as I got home tonight, I put Killers in the CD player, pressed play and cranked up the volume, not without a little trepidation. I needn’t have worried. Apart from remembering most of it as though I’d only heard it yesterday, I’m happy to say that it has stood the test of time really well.
Killers was Iron Maiden’s second album and last to feature Paul Di’anno on vocals. I don’t know whether it is ever described as a “classic” but it certainly deserves to be. Tracks such as Murders in the Rue Morgue, Wrathchild and Killers set the tone for the album, while the instrumental Ides of March is a superb opening track. Even the slower and more melodic (I hesitate to use the word “ballad”) Prodigal Son doesn’t feel out of place. In my opinion Di’anno’s voice is better than that of his replacement Bruce Dickinson and definitely suited to the songs on this album. Instrumentally, the music is top class, with memorable guitar solos and drum beats.
The version I bought today is the remastered 1998 release, which contains an extra track. To be honest, I didn’t notice – the extra track fits in perfectly with the original material.
In short, this is an album that should be in any self-respecting metal-fan’s collection.