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For close to an hour on this Classic Albums DVD, you get to hear from Iron Maiden themselves as well as from those close to them about their thoughts during the writing and recording of The Number of the Beast.
Hearing Bruce Dickinson describe how he spent four hours trying to record the perfect version of the first four lines of the title track under the stern eye of producer Martin "Head Master" Birch is hilarious. Then you get to hear a little bit of that legendary scream unaccompanied by instruments and the rawness in Dickinson's voice is apparent. It seems as if the scream continued beyond what you hear on the album which wouldn't be a surprise considering the lung might of the man deemed "The Air Raid Siren." The legend of "22 Acacia Avenue" and "Charlotte the Harlot" is given a brief mention, but doesn't add to what fans already knew from hearing the songs. Perhaps this notorious avenue was located in the same part of London where Rob Halford's favorite S&M shop provided the first incarnation of the metal uniform. Maybe Charlotte worked the same corner as Deep Purple's Sweet Lucy from "Knockin' At Your Back Door," the girl in Motorhead's "Jailbait," and Venom's "Lady Lust." Maybe all of those songs are about the same person. Maybe I'm reading too much into this! Moving on, you can sense the pride in songwriter Adrian Smith's voice when he says that this song which he wrote when he was 18 ended up on a platinum-selling album as well as becoming a part of the live show for the next three tours. Proof that if you play for Iron Maiden, then all of your wildest infinite dreams will come true.
One surprising revelation on this DVD is that it wasn't Clive Burr who initiated "The Prisoner," but a bored and frustrated Bruce Dickinson whose dead simple drumbeat in a rehearsal room was then given a riff from Adrian Smith. Dickinson discusses more details about the song as he walks through what appears to be the set of The Prisoner TV show. In discussing "Run to the Hills," Steve Harris states what should be obvious in that the song is not an attempt at a political statement, rather a story about the clash between American Indians and cavalry soldiers. In other words, a metal song about colonial times or even the wild west. Later, when the band recall the American leg of The Number of the Beast tour, it's funny how in one scene Dave Murray says that the band weren't partying or getting plastered every night, but then you see a picture of him, possibly plastered, staring straight at you with nothing but mischief and shenanigans in his eyes. It seems that one of the nicest guys in metal knows how to party when the opportunity arises!
The main flaws on this video are the comments from Dave Mustaine. Nothing he says gives you a better understanding of The Number of the Beast. Most of his comments are used as one-liners to offer some humor, but he's simply not funny. Cronos of Venom could have had you laughing on the floor in addition to giving a unique firsthand account of Iron Maiden's impact on the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Also, it's disappointing that not every song on the album is discussed or even mentioned. The quirky melodies of "Invaders" always reminded me of an angrier and heavier Rush and it would've been interesting to hear if they were indeed an influence on that song. While not a comprehensive view of the album, this DVD offers some new perspectives about the songs that are given attention.
Overall, this Classic Albums DVD gives you a brief yet enjoyable peek into the inner world of classic Iron Maiden. If you're new to the band (there's always an eager novice out there discovering the power of metal bands from before their time), then this video will only make you want to hear the album so check out The Number of the Beast first. To state the obvious, this is a must for Maiden fans.