Saturday, December 9, 2023

IRON MAIDEN the Paul Di’Anno years (Rufus Publications)

Every metal fan knows Iron Maiden – now well over forty years in existence they’re a rock behemoth astriding the globe, unleashing metal mayhem wherever they go. Still led by Steve ‘arry Harris and with Bruce Dickinson urging the world to “scream for me” wherever he plays. Truth be told, they’re probably national treasures as well.

This book, however, doesn’t deal with the mega success, the massive album sales, the stadium tours etc. This is a book of black and white photographs taken by members of the elite corps of rock photographers, and focussing on the band’s early days between 1978-81 when they were beginning to build up their rep for stellar gigs and Bruce was still singing with Samson. These are the Paul Di’Anno years.

Paul Di’Anno was the original singer in Maiden, alongside Steve Harris, David Murray, Clive Burr and Dennis Stratton (Harris and Murray are still with the band in 2023). Di’Anno’s tenure in the band came to an end in September 1981. For those in the know, as esteemed rock scribe Geoff ‘deaf’ Barton (the man who coined the clumsy though endearing term ‘NWOBHM’ .. New Wave Of British Heavy Metal) points out in the introduction, the ousting of Di’Anno came as no surprise after ‘the incident.’ What incident? Well, you’ll have to read the book to discover what it is. Di’Anno leaves, after which Dickinson adds his muscular and more dramatic vocal style and mega-stardom beckons for the band. Barton travelled with the group on their European tour, supporting Kiss during their Unmasked period, and recites a few anecdotes which gives other hints why Di’Anno wasn’t destined to be a Maiden too much longer. There’s also a nice moment at the end when Di’Anno and Harris meet up again at a festival in Croatia and talk for the first time in more than thirty years.

If you’re a fan of Di’Anno, you’ll get your fill of him here. There are a couple of hundred pages of black and white photos of the Maiden in action, in the studio and larking around, including many of the said Mr Di’Anno. Unlike a similar book on Kiss, though, Maiden doesn’t lose anything by being portrayed in black and white. If anything these pictures add to their early mystique because they look exactly like what they were in the late seventies, young fresh-faced guys back in the day pursuing a dream of rock stardom, and this book captures them in that period when they had everything to play for.

Laurence Todd
Laurence Todd
Took early retirement after many years as a teacher in order to write books as well as about music. A long-time music obsessive, has wide and eclectic tastes but particularly likes prog rock and rock in general. Enjoys going to gigs and discovering new acts.

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