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The arrival of the DVD format was good news for rock/metal fans – bands would reissue old video tapes with brighter image, cleaner sound and sometimes even some juicy extras. We no longer had to order ultra-rare, rusty and generally used VHS’s at some small music shop run by a greedy, nerdy-looking fat guy, paying an unreasonable fistful of dollars, waiting about 3 weeks until it arrived. Big bands with big wallets like Iron Maiden are specially praised for satisfying the fans with excellent DVD releases. On The History Of Iron Maiden Part 1: The Early Days, they compiled in nearly 6 hours of footage a rich, visual retrospective journey from 1975 to 1983. It is said this video was first conceived to be just a couple of live clips and a 20-minute interview but come on, this is Maiden and more importantly, EMI! – so you couldn’t expect really nothing but a top-notch work.
DVD1 takes you to 21st December, 1980, to the legendary Rainbow Theatre in London, where these guys’ first concert video was shot. You get 7 songs, including some early, rare Killers versions as “Killers” itself (including scruffier, alternative lyrics) and “Wrathchild”. Overall, an honest performance with Smith already in the group and a bunch of crazy, British metalhead kids going crazy – but let’s face it, just 30 minutes of footage? It’s obvious they only took some highlights from the entire set, excluding the rest unashamedly – it might be unbelievable but EMI producers were once that lazy.
The Beast Over Hammersmith feature comes next, introducing a new feel, imagery and musical level from the band with the addition of Bruce Bruce. Recorded way back on March 20th, 1982 in their home city, the set focus predominantly on the new record – predictably-executed, avoiding new arrangements, improvisation and lengthier instrumental sections of any kind as expected, from original studio song-layouts. What actually makes this chapter so cool is the bunch of exquisite vintage merchandising from the kids (t-shirts, patches, badges, etc.) nerdy collectors would pay a fortune for, these days. You can see who were the real big daddies on the British metal scene at the time curiously, even ahead of Saxon, Motörhead or Harris & co. themselves: everybody wearing Rainbow, Van Halen, Rush, Gillan patches on their vests with no exception – and the cute girl with the original, vintage Whitesnake Trouble t-shirt standing in the first row, mmh…Back to the concert, sadly lightning and technical problems made some of the songs “virtually unusable”, according to the booklet notes (not an unusual problem back in the days, check the inadequate stage lightning on AC/DC’s Let There Be Rock: The Movie – Live In Paris or Thin Lizzy’s Thunder And Lightning Tour DVD), so lots of cuts have been once again excluded, that you can easily find on Youtube and see those so-called technical inconveniences are no big deal – EMI being lazy again?
Last chapter on DVD1 is the December 18th, 1983 show at Dortmund, with the band now more famous, richer, self-indulgent and commercially bigger. Piece Of Mind stuff comes into the picture, yet again some tracks have been intentionally deleted – the stupid scene of Eddie being childishly lobotomized and murdered on stage by the band, during the homonym track performance has been naturally censored.
DVD2 features a 1,5 hour-long documentary on the early days, more importantly including well-edited and conducted interviews and tons of cool Ross Halfin photos and nice graphics during the transitions. There’s no voice-over telling the story as director and crew let the band itself explain it cleverly, making it more reliable and accurate, with people who were involved on studio recordings and live touring contributing as well, from Smallwood of course, to Birch, other concert-sound engineers, guitar & drum technicians, and even almost each of the band’s old casualties (yet no Wilcox, no Tony Moore, no Thunderstick – how come). Predictably, some “independent” reviewers are also invited: the unavoidable Malcolm Dome & Geoff Barton not doing a favor to Maiden’s ego actually by claiming how good the group is. And thank God they put subtitles on it, so we non-English speakers don’t have to suffer.
Besides the documentary, you get 9 songs from April 1th, 1980, from the Ruskin Arms gig, filmed by an amateur fan with bootleg poor image and sound quality, giving you the chance to see the band doing a show stripped-down from pompous stage designs & productions and giant Eddies, delivering something more passionate, honest and sincere musically than anything on DVD1 – but then came the billions, hits and pussy, so the magic that feature captures was gone…Whatever, more sweet extras are added, from 3 Top Of The Pops clips to 5 promo videos those who already own Visions Of The Beast will find unnecessary. Another 20-minute documentary entitled 20th Century Box from Granada TV is included too, however only providing some short interview excerpts with a teen, naïve Harris and poor quality, short live clips – mostly showing a couple of nerdy nobodies playing air guitars and miming to some random rock song. Plus extensive artwork, tour programmes, listings, photo galleries and a couple of non-subtitled hidden extras complete DVD2 feature-list.
In conclusion, this is mouth-watering stuff for you Maiden fans, presented properly in Dolby Digital sound, delightful interactive menus with fantastic Riggs’ artwork and good image quality in general – everything, more importantly, done with meticulousness, rigor and heart, with Harris himself taking part in the research and editing process. No goofs, no laziness, no rushing when it comes to compiling and transferring the material to be found here – you incompetent Universal infamous Deluxe Edition series producers better take notes. But if you don’t like Iron Maiden (neither do I), you might find these almost 6 hours boring and overextended…although along with EMI’s itself mid/late-90’s Deep Purple CD remasters and Jimmy Page’s Led Zeppelin DVD, this may be the greatest reissue ever made to the date. And you can actually get yourself this piece of rock history for 9€ at the local music store in the corner – God bless EMI.
This is the first part of a DVD Series entitled "The History Of Iron Maiden". It features live footage from four concerts, a documentary about the history of Iron Maiden from the foundation until the end of the World Piece Tour in 1983, as well as various little extras from the days between 1975 and 1983. As the documentary is the actual centrepiece of the set, I will comment on it first.
The story of Iron Maiden is not untold, there is a biography out called "Run To The Hills" which tells the complete history in much greater detail, there is the "Twelve Wasted Years" video which traces the history from 1975 to 1986, we have Nicko McBrains rants on the "First Ten Years" set, a DVD about the recording and history of the album "The Number Of The Beast" is widely available, and the band members (Steve Harris in particular) are fond of telling anecdotes of the bands history in interviews from here to eternity.
So, what is so special about this documentary, and do we really need it?
Of course there is no necessity as such, but there never really is, as the main focus on a band should always be the music. Being a very big fan of Iron Maiden, however, I can only say that to anyone who is interested in Heavy Metal, the music, the roots and the development, this 90-minute documentary is a valuable and informative watch. And to Iron Maiden fans, this is a treasure of pure gold.
The history of the band is elaborated with so much care, so much love and so much passion that it is totally irrelevant to ask if this is necessary- it is just a wonderful and entertaining film. Any question you might have about the band, and if it is only "What the heck did they need a keyboarder for in 1977?" is answered straight from the horse's mouth. The whole narration is made up of interviews with people who have been in and around the band at that time. Of course, most of it is made up by Steve Harris, but people like Doug Sampson, Dennis Stratton, and even more obscure characters such as Dennis Wilcock get the appropriate amount of time to recollect their respective memories of Iron Maiden. The only major flaw in this documentary is the fact that Derek Riggs, who is responsible for Eddie as we know him, gets so little time. In fact, there is no exclusive interview at all with him, only some old footage in which he explains how he came up with "the concept of Eddie". It would have been very nice to hear some of his anecdotes about working with Iron Maiden, but considering the ice age that exists since the "Brave New World"-fiasco, that is most probably too much to ask for.
Nevertheless, the documentary is absolutely amazing in, and a worthwhile watch for any fan.
Most of the double DVD set is made up of concert footage from the era between 1980 and 1983. There is much never-before-seen material in shape of the gig at Ruskin Arms, the "Beast Over Hammersmith" video and the 1983 Dortmund gig which has been broadcasted all over Europe in 1983, but has not been officially available since. The set also features the bands first concert video, known as "Live At The Rainbow", which has not been available on DVD before.
"Live At The Rainbow", "Beast Over Hammersmith" and "Live In Dortmund" make up the first DVD. All three are edited and are not complete concerts.
The 30-minute long "Live At The Rainbow" was shot in 1981, before the release of "Killers". In fact, the album had not been recorded yet, and the title track of the album lacked lyrics at that point. What Paul Di'Anno sings on the video are words he made up shortly before the gig and which are different to those on the album.
It is a great gig with a lot of power, and a great showcase for the Di'Anno-era Maiden. Particular highlights of this show are "Transsylvania" and "Phantom Of The Opera".
My particular favourite of this disk is the 45-minute long "Beast Over Hammersmith" video. The video itself is just a part of the show, which was a full-length headlining performance during the "Beast On The Road" tour, released on CD as part of the "Eddie's Archvie" box set in 2003.
The video features mostly songs from the "Number Of The Beast" album. As we are treated with the Di'Anno-era material on "Live At The Rainbow" and "Live At Ruskin Arms" on this set, this does not really matter.
The video was shot before the album was released, and therefore, there is very little crowd interaction whithin the songs. Bruce's famous "Scream For Me" has not yet appeared, and the songs are mostly played slower than on later live releases due to the different rhythm given by Clive Burr. Of the "new" songs, only "Run To The Hills", which had been released as a major hit single the week before, spawns some crowd reaction. This is actually a benefit of this video. If it is thrilling to hear a crowd of 150,000 people chanting a phrase from the Book of Revelations on "Rock In Rio", the spoken intro to "The Number Of The Beast" echoing in the darkness of a packed, yet silent Hammersmith Odeon is truly haunting.
My favourite from this video is "Children Of The Damned", which is a true highlight from the show, both visually and in terms of performance.
"Live In Dortmund" is footage from the last show of the "World Piece Tour" in 1983, the bands first headlining world tour. Sadly, only three tracks from the "Piece Of Mind Album" are included in this particular video, and the rest of the set is made up of songs already available on the other concert videos. Still, the show is a delight for eyes and ears, and we learn that Bruce's trademark "Scream For Me" must have evolved during this tour (bootleg owners, of course, know more). "Revelations" is one of the highlights of this video.
The seond Disk contains footage from Ruskin Arms, shot in 1980, just after the release of the first album. Perfectionists will criticize the poor sound and picture quality of this video, but, to be honest, what can you expect from a pub gig shot by a mate of the bands'? The video is a very thrilling watch, particularly for NWOBHM enthusiasts, but also for those who like to go to pub and club gigs. You really do get the feeling that you are *there* in the midst of the crowd. Apart from that, watching Paul bursting out in laughter onstage is priceless! This video contains the only officially released live version of "Charlotte The Harlot" and many other forgotten classics from that time- only "Strange World" is missing, to my dismay.
The rest of Disk 2 is made up of bonus material, including a 20-minute clip from an old British TV Show called "20th Century Box" about Iron Maiden and the NWOBHM movement in general, broadcasted in 1980. At times, it seems like a documentary on the hunting and mating habits of the small desert scorpion, and, needless to say, very entertaining to watch, if only for its naive cheesiness.
The disk also includes entries in Steve's diary from that age, images from tickets, posters, bills and all that kind of stuff you'd expect in an Iron Maiden scrap book, as well as a discography (1980-1983) as well as the promotional videos of that era (All of which are also included on the "Visions Of The Beast" double DVD) and the Top Of The Pops appearances, which are particularly hilarious to watch for the contrast of a real rock band playing to an audience of dancing trend kids. As usual, there is also a photo gallery, and some easter eggs in shape of interview snippets.
All in all, this is a great double-DVD set, essential for any Iron Maiden fan, and worthwhile for anybody interested in Heavy Metal. Despite the minor flaws, inevitable if you tell a story that is twenty-five years in the past, there is no way imaginable that this could have been done any better.
2005, the 25th anniversary of the beast, IRON MAIDEN. The band that has made an insane amount of albums and a fan base that is only probably surpassed by the KISS army(probably) is finally 25. And all those loyal maiden fans are finally rewarded with the DVD release of History of Iron Maiden Part I: The Early Days. This 90 minute documentary covers the entire band's history, starting from the first people of Iron Maiden and running up to the release and tour of 1983's Piece of Mind. This documentary is packed with interviews, concert footage, memorabilia, TV appearances, and other such goodies. Tons of information is contained within, including such shocking revelations that the band was never really too pleased with the sound on the first album, or that Steve Harris never really liked the version of Flight of Icarus that was recorded on the Piece of Mind album The documentary itself is presented on Disc Two, with other special features on Disc One. So let us proceed in numerical orderDisc One has three concert performances. The first, Live At The Rainbow, runs for 30-minutes ,it’s the band as they were touring for their second album, 1981's Killers. The performance features the following set-list:
Ides of March
Phantom of the Opera
Moving on to the next performance, we have Beast Over Hammersmith, a thirty-five minute concert capturing the band on tour supporting 1982's The Number of The Beast. This is where they dropped Paul Di’Anno and chose Bruce Dickinson to lead Maiden. Paul was a great vocalist but like many people agree, Maiden was right in choosing Dickinson. Here are the songs that Maiden performed:
Murders in the Rue Morgue
Run To The Hills
Children of the Damned
Number of the Beast
22 Acacia Avenue
Hallowed Be Thy Name
The final performance on this disc is Live In Portmund, supporting 1983's Piece Of Mind album. This show runs about 36 minutes long, and is surprisingly short on Piece Of Mind tunes (only 3), with 3 songs from The Number of the Beast, and 1 from Killers. Here's the set-list:
Flight of Icarus
22 Acacia Avenue
Number of the Beast
Run To The Hills
Disk Two contains a shit load of stuff. It has mores shows and an interview and some live performances. So here they are
Women in Uniform - Top of the Pops - 22/02/80, a three-minute televised performance of their Women In Uniform single. This has always been one of my favorite early-Maiden tunes, and the performance contained her is pretty fuckin raw.
The next performances are Running Free - Top of the Pops - 13/11/80 and Running Free - Rock and Pop - ZTV Germany 1980, two performances of one Maiden's signature tunes. The first one runs just over two minutes and looks and sounds fairly well, while the second one contains a ton of video noise and ghosting. Plus the quick-cutting is guaranteed to give you a seizure. Stick with the first one, even if the Murray/Smith fretwork is much sweeter on the second
Promo Videos 1980 - 1985 contains five music videos from Maiden's early history: Women In Uniform, Run to the Hills, The Number of the Beast, Flight of Icarus, and The Trooper. There's also an Easter Egg here: highlight "Extras" at the bottom of the screen and click down. An icon appears to the right. Click it and see what you can see.
Eddie's Lock-Up contains even more archival footage. We start out with Live at The Ruskin, a really early Maiden performance (right around the release of their first album) captured on amateur home video. Don't expect much in terms of picture and sound quality, but what you can expect is a really raw and scrappy performance from an emerging metal talent. The set list for this performance consists of:
Sanctuary Wratchchild Prowler
Phantom of the Opera
Charlotte The Harlot
Next we have Steve's Diary - 1975, a collection of text pages from bassist/group founder Steve Harris's 1975 journal. The entries consist mostly of gig and audition information, including how much they received in compensation and how he went to go see the Rocky Horror Show on Friday, August the 20th. Steve's Scrapbook contains stills of gig posters, concert tickets, banners, newspaper clippings, and other such memorabilia related to the band.
Moving into the Discography section, we are treated to a rundown of all the band's albums and singles (up to 1983), including the album covers, release dates, UK Chart Positions, and tracks (both song titles and songwriters listed.)
In “On The Road”, we are treated to literally dozens of photographs that detail the history of the band on tour. These are broken down into the following sections: The Early Days, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, Tour Programmes, Tour Dates, T-Shirts, Backstage Passes, and Other Artwork. All in all, this DVD is really good. A shit load of performances, interviews, facts, pics, everything that a Maiden DVD should have. This DVD is going to be on every Maidens fans essentials and is a good way to show how Maiden got its start. But as I noticed as I watching this it with my friend, if you don’t like Maiden, you’ll probably think its shit, but if you like Maiden, even the slightest bit, its worth it to go out and buy this DVD and spend sevrel hours infront of your tv staring at the legend that is Maiden.
On this you get absolutely tons of corking stuff! I am going to review them individually so you can see the full package: -
Live at the rainbow
This is a nice performance, merely 30 minutes in length but what we get is a nice early snippet of what maiden was all about. Best thing is that 'Killers' on here is the one with the original lyrics before they changed them for the recording, so you get to not only hear it but see it for the first time in years. Add a blistering performance of 'Transylvania' which features tons of impromptu shredding and you have a cracking start to this collection.
Beast Over hammersmith
This has been demanded for absolutely years and now finally we have it, albeit a 45 minute version rather than the complete article, but thanks to new lighting processes we are now able to see this landmark performance. The band are really playing brilliantly and it is nice to see songs such as 'Number of the beast' during the middle of a set rather than predictably in encores.
Live in Dortmund
This is a very nice performance with the band really going for it. Loses points because the German tv company deleted the footage of the band Murdering Eddie, but even so it is nice to finally have some footage from the Piece of mind era.
The early Days (documentary)
Now THIS is possibly one of the greater parts of the DVD, think along the lines of the 'number of the beast' dvd and you have a rough idea of what to expect. Only we have brand new interviews including footage of band members from before 1980 for the first time in over 20 years! We are also treated to some very rare photographs of the band too which gives an even greater idea of what stories lie behind the Maiden name. 90 minutes long and highly entertaining, well worth it.
20th century Box
Well it's only 20 minutes, kind of funny, but Danny Baker is lame, so less said the better
Live at the ruskin
OH YEEEEEEEAH!!! Finally footage of maiden decimating a London Pub! This is gloriously untouched so we are treated to single camera footage, with the only embellishments as far as I can see being some touch ups to the sound. This is a quality gig, also features the only known video footage of the song 'Charlotte the harlot', for fans this show is an absolute must!
Mixed bag this, the TOP of The Pops appearances are nice as thye haven't seen light of day on television for over 20 years, but I fail to see the need to include the official promo videos, what with 'Visions of the beast' being released last year and all, ah well, there has to be a fault somewhere and this is it.
The hidden extras are some hilarious extra intervie scenes, a little hint for you all, try to find the 'ammers...