WTF? Did they write that? And record it too? We give you our BOTTOM 10, the worst songs Iron Maiden ever wrote and recorded…
We know this is going to be a storm. We’re bound to label somebody’s favorite Maiden track … well, crap. Call it tabloid, call it attention-seeking. It’s part of fandom, and we have to live with both the good and the bad, don’t we?
Last year we invited you to love or hate our TOP 10 of obscure Maiden tracks, those that don’t get enough recognition. This time we’re gonna name the Maiden tracks we feel are … well, crap. Which is not easy! Because Iron Maiden is a consistently great band.
Well, you get to punish us in the comments.
Here’s what we think:
10) ANOTHER LIFE (1981)
This one is not easy. Torgrim is a fan of the Killers album, and Christer is too. But here’s a song that’s so far below the high points of the album, which boasts classics like Murders In The Rue Morgue and Wrathchild. After the drum intro, we get a cool verse that gives way to where the chorus should have been, but nothing’s there. The track then goes on to repeat its only verse three times.
Still, the song made a surprising return to the Maiden setlist in 2005, when the band toured tracks only from their first four records, in a spot where most people would probably expect something like the title track. Here’s the performance from Rock Am Ring that summer:
09) SANCTUARY (1980)
One of the oldest Maiden tracks, and a setlist semi-regular, a song that some love and some don’t. Even in light of the material on Maiden’s first record, which isn’t really that sophisticated, Sanctuary is all pale riffs and equally pale melodies. Not nearly good enough.
08) GANGLAND (1982)
This one is going to provoke arguments in the comments… It’s not easy to shine when you’re part of the massive The Number Of The Beast album, but Gangland falls way short of tracks like Children Of The Damned and The Prisoner. This is average early 80s metal, at a point where there shouldn’t have been anything average about Maiden:
We can’t find any such fault with the albums of the Harris-Murray-Smith-Dickinson-McBrain era in 1983-1988, and although the average level of the songs on their first 1990s album, No Prayer For The Dying, isn’t quite up to it, it’s still not as terrible as some that would come later. So from here on our list makes a massive jump in the timeline:
07) GATES OF TOMORROW (2003)
An infantile opening riff starts off the worst tune Maiden have recorded in their reunion era. When you’re packing monsters like Rainmaker and Paschendale, something as hollow as Gates Of Tomorrow should simply have been left off a Dance Of Death album which is long enough in any case.
06) WEEKEND WARRIOR (1992)
At this point, it will become very clear that we have a problem with two particular Iron Maiden albums… Launching the unfortunate blend of poor Maiden music and football themes that would plague the later Virtual XI album and tour, Weekend Warrior is one of many low points on Fear Of The Dark. How can a Maiden track be downright boring? The quality of Maiden’s music had taken a dip at the start of the 1990s, but this track is yawn-inducingly pedestrian.
05) FEAR IS THE KEY (1992)
And this attempt at doing a Zeppelin does not work at all. Dirgy tempo and a raga-flavored riff, and the song builds to a climax that never arrives, rather falling back into the dirge:
04) DON’T LOOK TO THE EYES OF A STRANGER (1998)
Virtual XI is our least favorite Maiden album here at Maiden Revelations, and all but two tracks could have been considered for inclusion on this list. Why go with this one? It’s a clear example of the production shortcomings that haunted Maiden during Steve Harris’ reign as producer, and also a clear example of the songwriting shortfall that was Maiden’s 1992-98 period. Two full minutes of this overlong track is given to Blaze Bayley repeating the title ad nauseam, sounding stupidly close to singing “the ASS of a stranger”…
03) INVASION (1980)
One should probably not give a young band too much heat for what they did before finding their feet. But here’s an exception! Recorded on New Year’s Eve in 1978, Invasion became part of Maiden’s first release, The Soundhouse Tapes, and was re-recorded as the B side of the Women In Uniform single in 1980. This is a snapshot of the time when the band were in search of their sound, but it is still mind-bogglingly awful. “The Norsemen are coming, the Norsemen are coming, the warnings are given, the Norsemen are coming…” Yikes:
02) THE APPARITION (1992)
Is this worse than Invasion? No, but thirteen successful years later it’s incomprehensible that a band of Maiden’s quality and status would allow something as crappy as this on an official release. Not even a B side, but an album track proper! The lyrics are actually kind of neat, but the music is pointless. And Fear Of The Dark seems to have been lucky to become a decent seller…
01) THE ANGEL AND THE GAMBLER (1998)
There is no excuse. The Angel And The Gambler is so far away, not only from what we would expect from Iron Maiden, but from what we would expect from any decent hard rock band. That’s right, this track wouldn’t cut it for ANY decent hard rock band. It’s that bad.
All of this at a time when Maiden chief Steve Harris could do whatever the hell he wanted. He produced the records, and he wrote most of the music. Manager Rod Smallwood disagreed strongly with Harris’ choice of this tune as the lead single off their new album Virtual XI, arguing that album opener Futureal was the better choice.
And he was damn right. Little wonder that there would be a major rethink of Maiden’s line-up and production less than a year after the release of this catastrophe:
Consider yourself lucky that this video was an edited version of the 10 (!) minute song. It’s almost like Harris had to show the world how bad it could get, before turning things around. This song is Maiden’s version of self-hatred, but they would soon snap out of it. Thank Eddie…
So, what rubbed you the wrong way, friends? And what should obviously have been on the list? Sound off in the comments section!