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The First Ten Years: Part II
The 2nd entry in the First Ten Years EP series collects together the Women in Uniform single from 1980 and the Twilight Zone single from the following year. Like the first and third volumes, they're the originals recorded with Paul Di'anno; no attempt is made to whitewash the past, so the fan is getting exactly what he or she might have missed out on in the band's budding years. Of the two singles, Women in Uniform is the more valuable, since it consists of two songs you wouldn't have gotten on the original albums. However, as "Twilight Zone" was not included on the original UK release of Killers (added later on the '88 edition), that track might have some inherent sentimentality for English fans.
Women in Uniform includes the title track, a fun and frolicking rendition of a cult hit from the now obscure Australian rock band the Skyhooks, from their 1978 album Guilty Until Proven Insane. Yes, about two years prior to the Maiden version, and also released as a single itself. Go figure. The song seems to match the early iron well, especially with Di'anno's frenzied rock and roll squealing near the end in which he sounds like he's trying to fellate James Brown. "Invasion" is a non-album track, and the best thing on this EP. It had originally appeared on their Soundhouse Tapes with a cruder recording, and somewhere along the line it must have at least provided the inspiration for "Invaders", but it's very entertaining, a good old mash of pure 70s NWOBHM fury and punkish undertow. Like the previous Sanctuary single, a live track is included from the Marquee, London in 1980, and here it is "Phantom of the Opera".
"Twilight Zone" is an excellent track, with a good ol' shuffle metal rhythm and some amazing atmosphere kicking in through Di'anno's vocals in the bridge. I also find the lead relevant to my interests. Because it kicks ass! Other than this, though, there is only "Wrathchild" which appears on the Killers album. Basically if you had the original US release for Killers, this single is worthless. "Listen With Nicko!" has McBrain at an even more relentless level of 'hasn't had his morning tea', enthusiastically telling us the tale of how Maiden decided to cover the Skyhooks and so forth. Once again, we're 'lucky' to have this, as apparently McBrain does not own a copy of the original singles...though it is curious to know that "Twilight Zone" is Adrian Smith's first single with the band, and Nicko talks about touring alongside Maiden in his old band Trust, but briefly.
Women In Uniform is actually a good single. Even though I'm not a huge fan of the cover, it has "Invasion" which is quite cool. Sadly, it is paired up with Twilight Zone, which is detritus unless you are somehow an Englishman without access to the track. Still, if you wish to collect all ten...well, you gotta catch 'em all.
Somehow I've gotten hold of this, sometime back in 1999. I haven't heard it since then (as I don't have a vinyl-player), but I do remember the songs. The EP opens up with two covers, Women in Uniform and Invasion. Women in Uniform is an ok song, but it's nothing compared to the Maiden material found here. When I first saw the title Invasion, I got quite confused, since Maiden have a song called Invaders. I thought maybe it was a spelling error before I heard it. When I heard it, though, I realized this was not the same song. It's a nice little rocker, but as with many of the songs Maiden cover, it can't hold a candle to their original songs. Phantom of the Opera a godly masterpiece, originally found on their debut. It's also Maiden's first epic, and that's cool. The main riff is fast and wicked, and the song goes through various rhythms and stages before it ends. A real epic in every sense of the word.
Twilight Zone is one of Maiden's very few filler songs from the 80's. It's ok, but it never sticks in your brain, making it hopelessly anonymous. The last song is Wratchild, originally found on Killers, and it's killer material. A real punkish streetwise and attitude-filled midpaced song. I'm not quite sure what it is about, it's something about someone who's trying to find his father and get revenge or something. I've never read the lyrics thoroughly enough to understand it. But I DO know it's a fantastic song. The last track on the EP is called Listen With Nicko! Part II. That's right; 8 minutes of drummer Nicko McBrain's non-sensical babble. In fact I don't remember what he spoke about, but knowing him, I'm sure it wasn't anything serious, hehe.
Overall, this is a very interesting EP, with songs from very early Maiden, when noone even knew who Bruce Dickinson was, and Paul Di'Anno was the frontman.