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Running Free was the first single released by Iron Maiden and it really sets the tone for what people could expect to come from the NWOBHM movement. While the Soundhouse Tapes had been out for a year at this point, that release only exhibits a fraction of the energy presented on this one. The Soundhouse Tapes show Maiden taking their baby steps in the metal direction, but Running Free shows Iron Maiden finding their niche in the metal scene and fully embracing a new type of sound and attitude that would be emulated and praised by so many bands after them.
It is also of note that this is the first appearance (partially obscured for the release of the eponymous LP) of Eddie. Even from the very beginning, Derek Riggs knew how to make a damn great album/single cover. In addition to the ominous Eddie image, I always thought the band graffiti on the wall was really cool too. Looking closely I see AC/DC, Sex Pistols, Scorpions, Led Zeppelin, Judas Priest, and the most obscure one, Vambo (For those of you who don't know, Vambo is the fictional superhero created by the Sensational Alex Harvey Band).
The song, Running Free, is the same version that would appear on the album. I'd say the two focuses are on the dual lead guitar harmonies and Paul Di'anno's vocals, although it is undoubtedly Steve Harris that is controlling the song as with most of Maiden's repertoire. Paul's voice has really matured since the Soundhouse Tapes and really drives the song along with Steve. Dave and Dennis really shine just after the second chorus with the dual cascading guitar solo and the heavy breakdowns before the third verse. Steve's bass is always prominent in the mix as with any other Maiden song, as it should be. The only thing that annoys me about the song is Clive Burr's drumming. Clive Burr, in my humble opinion, has so much more potential in his playing than what is showcased on Running Free. Instead of doing the over-used "Gary Glitter Rock n Roll Part 2 bass snare beat," I had expected so much more from such a talented drummer. Never fear, Clive redeems himself on all of his future Maiden releases behind the kit. Although Running Free is not the most technical or fantastic Maiden song from the early days, it's a crowd staple and just a fun, metal classic.
Burning Ambition, however, beats Running Free a million times over. As far as I know, Maiden have never played this song live and that is a crying shame. Dave Murray begins with a clean, spacey chorus intro then bursts into the song's trademark celestial melody. This lick just soars over everything else in the mix and is just so damn catchy, so damn IRON MAIDEN. This beautiful melody by Dave, alone, blows Running Free out of the water. The verses have Dave riffing fast D-A-C power chords and Paul singing in the higher register of his range. This song is total Iron Maiden attitude and is performed flawlessly. After two verses, Dave erupts into his signature, searing solos and rounds it off with a double tracked dual lead ending. It's fast, it's melodic, it's pentatonic Dave Murray legato shred. After that the song repeats from where it started. I can only guess they chose not to play this song live because there are only two verses and only two riffs, but Christ, the single is worth buying just for this song. If you hadn't guessed, Dave Murray completely steals the show on Burning Ambition.
The Running Free single showed Iron Maiden had more than enough potential to be at the forefront of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. It was a affirmation of the band's will and desire to become destined for greatness and achieve the utmost respect in metal circles. This single shows off Harris' songwriting and how the band had become a cohesive force of true heavy metal. I only docked off 5 points for Clive's drumming on Running Free (believe me the man is a tour de force in all other Maiden releases ex. on Genghis Khan, Phantom of the Opera, and Killers he is quite exceptional) and the fact that Burning Ambition has never been played live on any Maiden tour (but that's just me being nitpicky). I highly recommend this single and buying it in conjunction with the Sanctuary single. Fantastic.
The year was 1980. The recent hippie movement is finally coming to an end with punk and heavy metal bands taking over the extreme music scene. And what a good take over it was. After over a decade rule of the dead-beat hippies, bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Black Sabbath (among others) were just making their debut’s which would change the world of music forever. This was Iron Maiden’s first mass produced material of their career, and it’s obvious that it is. Both songs on the EP take huge influences from 70’s rock.
I like Burning Ambition more than Running Free. The song has a kind of sound, and melody that mixes dance, rock, and metal to create one awesome hybrid song. I know it might sound like an odd thing to say for an Iron Maiden song, but this song is a great song to dance to. It has that uplifting, groovy, melody with a slight hint of aggressiveness. Burning Ambition is also the best I have heard Paul Di’Anno’s voice. On Iron Maiden’s self titled album his voice is much grittier than on this song. On Burning Ambition his voice has a much cleaner sound to it, so much so that it is very close to Bruce Dickinson’s voice, which may be the reason I like the song so much. Either way, it’s a shame this song never made on the self-titled album, and never heard again as far as I know. It surely out-shines many of the other songs of the days of early Iron Maiden. In fact, I would support the purchase of this release just for this song. It’s definitely a very unique sounding release, far different from Iron Maiden’s other material. Of course it’s different in a good way.
I enjoy Running Free very much as well. This song has extreme rock influences on it, but is nevertheless the true essence of Iron Maiden’s early days. And I could think of no better fitting title for this song than Running Free, because the song makes me feel like I’m young again and brings me back to the time that I could run free. In my opinion it is also the only song of the self-titled album to be named a ‘single’. It’s not the best song from Iron Maiden, but it’s the perfect song to compliment Burning Ambition, even though this song was supposed to be the face of this release.
As the other reviews say, this is definitely a great piece of Iron Maiden history. With the first sighting of Eddie on the cover, Burning Ambition that only showed up once, and the second ever Iron Maiden release. So this is obviously one for extreme Iron Maiden fans, and not someone just becoming familiar with their material.
Apart from their earlier Soundhouse tapes here we have Maiden’s first official EP. The choice of songs is obviously not without reason. They already had a big fanbase but they choose to release two of their more rock orientated songs instead of their more groundbreaking material.
‘Running Free’ is a simply and catchy rock song with a nice rhythmic groove, courtesy of Clive Burr. Steve Harris is still somewhat holding back but his trademark galloping already shines through. In this song it’s only the smaller details setting them apart from contemporary artist. Those typical melodies and a few nice hooks.
‘Burning Ambition’ is a more interesting story. This song was supposedly the first song Steve Harris wrote and because of it’s changes in pace and dynamics his previous band(s) didn’t want to play it. In a way it was this song which made Harris decide to form his own group. The importance of ‘Burning Ambition’ therefore cannot be denied. But is it a good song? Well, it can’t really compete with most other songs from the pre-Dickinson era and I can understand why it never made it unto a regular album but it still holds up fine despite it’s quite cheesy seventies lead melody. The energetic vocals and tempo more than make up for it. I’m sure in the hands of any other rock band from the seventies this song wouldn’t sound as energetic as it does now. Because of the tempi and raw punky vocals by Di’Anno one can already hear that this band has the ability to make almost everything sound great.
Honestly ‘Burning Ambition’ is reason enough to get this EP. Not only because of it’s historical importance but also because it shows the extra edge and energy the youthful Iron Maiden could put in their songs, making them sound even better than they already were.
Sometimes you just want to kick back and jam to some old 80s heavy metal, and this would be the ideal single to do it to. Iron Maiden were just getting started with this, and they still played their punkish, gritty style of NWOBHM that was just beginning to get them into the public eye around the late 70s. Paul Di'Anno was still at the helm, and I like his voice more every time I hear it, what with his punkish, street-smart attitude and gruff voice. The band followed suit, playing a rougher style of music then they would when Dickinson took the helm and the world by storm.
The first song here is the title track, arguably the simplest song on their debut. It kicks off with a galloping drum beat before the riff kicks in, and it's a catchy little rocker all the way through. The chorus isn't complex in the least, but it was the 70s, and you just needed to be able to sing along. It tells a tale of rebellious youth, the freedom of being young and alive, and of being left to 'run free.' The basslines are jumpy and energetic, and the guitar trills are confident in their runs through this rather short song.
Then we get "Burning Ambition", which has never been seen again after this little single. It's even shorter than the first track, and more laid back, but not a ballad by any means. Lyrically, it seems to be a contemptuous song, venting anger at a mysterious woman who seems to have done Di'Anno wrong. Definetly a 70s rocker, it cruises by with an extremely catchy chorus that never comes out of my head, and some rather energetic drum beats, along with the nostalgic, homegrown guitar lines.
The cover is just a classic piece of Maiden history, depicting a young man, well, running free. And likewise, this is a classic piece of metal history if you are sitting there holding it in your hands (which I am sadly not). It's a noticable sign of what Maiden would become with their first two albums, and well worth a short listen. Recommended to Maiden diehards.