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Now here is the song which started it all for me. It’s the first Maiden song I ever heard. My starting point with this band and even metal in general (I don’t count listening to Zeppelin, ACDC Aerosmith and such earlier). This is the song which grabbed my attention, pulled me away at that time from regular rock and pop. So really, for me there is something magical about Wasted Years, no denying it.
Adrian Smith really was on a roll here. We wrote no less than 3 out of 8 tunes on Somewhere in Time from which two became singles. ‘Wasted Years’ was the most successful one (although I’ll always prefer the heavier ‘Stranger In A Strange Land’)
‘Wasted Years’ is a simple mid paced song and, just like earlier Smith songs such as 2 Minutes To Midnight and Flight Of Icarus, build around a pop song structure and depending on just a few catchy riffs, an even catchier chorus and easily digestible melodies. The guitar intro is the most remarkable feature of the song.
‘Reach Out’ is a great song. The song combines mid paced rock with a sort of poppy eighties beauty. Smith has a good voice and sings well. Void of any raw edges Smith is the man for this job since Dickinson would have made the song either too majestic or maybe even too raw which is exactly what the song didn’t need. However Dickinson’s backing vocals are great I must add.
And here I was, thinking all these years ‘Reach Out’ also was an Adrian Smith penned song which was recorded during the somewhere In Time sessions but deemed too soft for the regular album (and therefore Smith did lead vocals himself or whatever so it could be released as a B-side)
Well, I got the lead vocals right and also the moment of its recording (or at least production). However the song was never intended for Maiden nor was it written by Smith. It was written by Dave Colwell (from Smith’s first band Urchin) for the ‘Entire Population of Hackney’ project which featured Smith & McBrain and some others including Andy Barnett who had actually replaced Dave Murray in Urchin back in the seventies. Anyway, a long story which goes back to the Urchin days, a hiatus in 1985 and a follow up in 1989 when Smith, Colwell and Barnett did the A.S.A.P. album.
We were left with a joke. The ‘Sheriff Of Huddersfield’ a.k.a. Rod Smallwood, Maidens manager, is subject of a joke-song due to his (quote wikipedia) ‘notorious stinginess and frequent complaining about a move to Los Angeles.’ Whether you know the man and story or not (I obviously didn’t back then) the song is nicely written and quite catchy. In a way a funny hard rock tune but not really suitable for a B-sides compilation with real songs and covers due to Dickinsons vocal impersonations throughout the song but fun to hear once every few years.
Overall one of those singles you just have to own (and play) when you’re into Maiden. For me, it has even more sentimental value.
This single is the brainchild of probably my favorite guitar/songwriter from the 80s, Adrian Smith. The guitar line to the title track of this single is probably one of the most memorable in the realm of metal, and is sort of a rite of passage for any lead guitar player who wishes to tear it up with a band in the metal genre. The chorus is very easy to sing along to and is a regular favorite at live performances.
"Reach Out" is another rare treat, Adrian Smith on vocals with Bruce backing him up. He does an excellent job on the vox, but his strength on this one is his catchy guitar riffs. This song has a solo that is so idomatic that you could easily hum the tune along with it, something that metal guitar solos are not often famous for. "Sheriff of Huddersfield" is a full blown laugh fest, and a bucket of fun, something fairly typical of Maiden's 3rd tracks on their various singles. (Roll Over Vic Vella is a good example).
In conclusion, this single is probably a bit hard to come by at this point, but if you can find it I recommend it highly. It's a great song from Maiden's greatest album, and a pair of tracks that will make you smile and make you laugh, something that metal is allowed to do to people, despite what the no-fun elitists of the darker scene tell you.