Iron Maiden Plays Other Band’s Songs Better Than The Originals
Iron Maiden 1986 – (from l-r) Dave Murray, Bruce Dickinson, Steve Harris, Nicko McBrain, Adrian Smith
Like Metallica who seem to excel at playing cover songs, Iron Maiden has covered songs from many well known groups including Led Zeppelin, The Who and UFO. But it is usually the lesser known bands that Iron Maiden have been able to bring to the limelight with their covers, usually improving the song substantially in the process.
Of course it certainly helps if the song you’re covering is a good song to begin with. Many of these songs are just that: well written songs.
Here in no particular order are the five best Iron Maiden cover songs where Maiden generally took the original song up a notch.
1) I’ve Got The Fire (1981 and 1983) – originally done by the band Montrose featuring Sammy Hagar on lead vocals. This is the only Iron Maiden cover song recorded by both the original Maiden singer Paul Di’Anno and his successor Bruce Dickinson. First Paul Di’Anno:
Next, Bruce Dickinson’s version which was recorded in 1983.
2) Women In Uniform (1980) – originally performed by the Australian band Skyhooks, Maiden’s version bumps the tempo up and improves Continue reading →
It Was 35 Years Today That The Greatest Front-man in Rock History Died
I clearly remember when Bon Scott of AC/DC died. I heard it on the radio on a dreary February day in 1980. To me he was just a good singer in a band where all the members were very short.
It was sad, but honestly I didn’t think too much about it at the time having heard only some of AC/DC’s songs such as Let There be Rock, Highway To Hell and Touch Too Much. I was more into The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, E.L.O., Judas Priest, Van Halen, The Cars, Elvis Costello and The Clash and many other mainstream bands. But his death sparked an interest in discovering what Bon Scott and AC/DC was about.
Over the next year I would come to love AC/DC especially with the American release of Dirty Deeds in 1981, five years after it was released everywhere else in the world. After hearing Dirty Deeds, I went out and bought all of the old AC/DC albums. To say I liked the Bon Scott version of AC/DC would be an understatement.
As the years have passed and I get older, I get more and more depressed that Bon Scott left us at age 33. It is hard to fathom he has been gone 35 years.
While not diminishing the passing of Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix or Jim Morrison and countless other rock icons, Bon’s death along with John Lennon’s and John Bonham’s (all coincidentally in 1980) are among the greatest losses to rock music ever.
What Bon Scott would have gone on to do can only be left to conjecture, but I would venture to say he would have built upon the previous successes the band had finally achieved. My friends who had seen AC/DC live said Bon’s charismatic stage presence was palpable in person and it came through on film and video as well. With his unique voice and take no prisoners attitude when performing, the audience felt an authentic connection to Bon Scott.
In the six years Bon Scott was the lead singer for AC/DC he recorded six studio albums. It says a lot that from those six albums are where AC/DC have continually pulled half of their live set from.
AC/DC Founder Malcolm Young Quietly Played A Huge, Behind The Scenes Part In AC/DC’s Long Success
Malcolm (l) & Angus Young (r)J photo Jaime Saba For the L.A. Times
When reading about the recent disclosure that AC/DC founder and rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young was suffering from dementia and was retiring from the band, it occurred to me how many casual fans of AC/DC are not aware of how important Malcolm is to the band.
Malcolm did a lot more than stand in the background pounding out crunchy rhythm guitar riffs and come up to the microphone to sing things like “hoy” with his backing vocals.
AC/DC is (was) Malcolm’s band.
Malcolm controlled the touring, personnel, finances, important band decisions and most importantly the songwriting.
It was Malcolm Young, not his flashier, lead guitarist younger brother Angus Young, who came up with most of the riffs and leads for those brilliant AC/DC songs over the past 41 years.
Malcolm is a big inspiration to me; he keeps me on my feet. Even when I’m tired from running around the stage for two hours, I’ll look back at what he’s doing and it gives me that boot up the backside I sometimes need. [laughs] Also, he can always tell me if I’m playing well or if I’m not. Mal’s a very tough critic, and I know that if I can please him, I can please the world. A lot of people say, “AC/DC-that’s the band with the little guy who runs around in school shorts!” But I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without Malcolm and the other guys pumping out the rhythm. They make me look good.
Mal is really a great all-around guitarist. I know it says “rhythm guitar” on the album jacket, but if he sits down to play a solo, he can do it better than me. Not a lot of people have picked up on this, but in the early days he used to play lead. But then he said to me, “No, you take the solos. I’ll just bang away back here.” And what’s more, he actually plays rhythms. He just doesn’t make a noise; he works them out, and he knows when not to play.
My part in AC/DC is just adding the color on top. Mal’s the band’s foundation. He’s rock solid and he pumps it along with the power of a machine. He doesn’t play like a machine, though. Everything he does grooves and he always seems to know exactly what to play and when to play it. He’s a very percussive player too, his right hand just doesn’t stop sometimes. It’s scary, it really is!
Fans on the official AC/DC web site commenting about the announcement that Malcolm has retired because of dementia are clueless. Most are writing things like, “Get well soon, Mal!” Continue reading →
For those who wondered if Fast Eddie Clark and Fastway would ever put out another new album, the answer is, finally yes. It took more than twenty years, but Fastway, Clark’s post-Motörhead band, in April 2012 finally and quietly released in the U.S. Eat Dog Eat and it is a decidedly radio friendly rock album. That is if there were radio stations that still played new rock albums.
On internet streaming sites and satellite radio where hard rock seems to have retreated, I’m afraid this excellent effort was completely overlooked. In the past two years I never heard one new cut from Fastway.
In this seemingly temporary incarnation, Fastway is now a three-piece ensemble with former Little Angels front man Toby Jepson, producing the album and providing lead vocals, bass guitar and acoustic guitar. Fast Eddie plays lead guitar and Matt E.(?) is on drums. Continue reading →
Jon Thor Covering (Butchering) Sweet’s Hard Rock Classic “Action”
What is the worst cover song of all time? Of course that is subjective and debatable, but this may be it.
If you can stay with this five minute video, it will be worth it for its jaw dropping kitschiness.
On national television, with Merv Griffin doing the introduction, from 1976, here is Jon Thor straight from the Aladdin Hotel’s Red, Hot and Blue Show doing his “Muscle Rock” rendition of Action.
For those who do not know what the original song sounds like, because any resemblance of Jon Thor’s version to a real rock song is purely coincidental, here is Sweet’s original version recorded in 1975.
If you are wondering whatever happened to Jon Thor, in the early 1980’s he eventually transformed his act into “Thor,” a quasi-metal act that is still active today according to his web site.
Andy Johns who worked on some of the greatest rock albums of all-time as a producer and engineer died in Los Angeles on April 7, at the age of 62 due to complications of a stomach ulcer.
Johns was a name not known to casual rock fans because he worked behind the scenes, but his contributions to dozens of classic albums is immeasurable. From the Rolling Stones Exile on Main Street to Led Zeppelin’s greatest period of production in the early 1970’s, Johns was setting up and overseeing the recording of albums that will be played for as long as people listen to rock n’ roll. Some of the many bands and artists Andy Johns worked with included Free, Eric Clapton, Blind Faith, Cinderella, Van Halen, Joe Satriani and Mott The Hoople.
After Andy Johns died I scanned The New York Times on a daily basis in disbelief that they did not cover his death. Nearly two weeks after his passing, an obituary finally appeared.
Here, Andy Johns talks about his experiences working with Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page and the recording of Led Zeppelin’s classic Led Zeppelin IV (a.k.a. 4 Symbols or Untitled) and the song Stairway To Heaven.
David Gilmour and Roger Waters of Pink Floyd between Storm Thorgerson photo possibly by Jill Furmanovsky
Storm Thorgerson was a name even less known by the general public than Andy Johns, but literally millions of people have seen his work. Thorgerson, as half of the design firm Hipgnosis with Aubrey Powell, created dozens of the most iconic record album covers, sleeve and insert artwork of all time. After the dissolution of Hipgnosis in 1983, Thorgerson ran his own firm and continued working until he died on April 13 at the age of 69 from cancer.
Thorgerson’s work was surreal and many times bizarre. But it caught your attention like any great artwork that was meant to be contemplated. Millions of people who bought albums would study the large canvas that an LP album offered for insights and clues about the music and the band they were listening to. With the supremacy of CD’s in the 1990’s, cover artwork was given a much smaller space and a less important role in point of purchase sales of music. Despite this, Thorgerson maintained a steady stream of clients who wanted original and outstanding works of art to go with their musical output.
Best known for his long association with Pink Floyd, Thorgerson also created album covers for a wide variety of bands including Led Zeppelin, Yes, Scorpions, UFO, Phish, AC/DC, 10cc, Black Sabbath, The Alan Parsons Project, Anthrax and many others.
In this clip below, Thorgerson talks about the beginnings of Hipgnosis.
The Divinyls lead singer Christina Amphlett was known in the United States as more of a one-hit wonder for the 1991 top ten song I Touch Myself than for anything else. But in her native Australia, Chrissy Amphlett was a rock legend. The Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard even spoke of the impact of Amphlett’s death and what she meant to the Australian music scene.
Amphlett died in New York City at the age of 53 on April 20 after battling multiple sclerosis and breast cancer for many years.
The Divinyls were not just a pop band, they could rock as hard as anybody as evidenced here in a 1982 live performance of Boys in Town. With her schoolgirl outfit Amphlett displays some head-banging moves reminiscent of AC/DC’s Angus Young.
Clive Burr – Iron Maiden’s Masterful And Highly Underrated Drummer Passes Away
Clive Burr, who was Iron Maiden’s drummer from 1979-1982, died in his sleep at his home in London, England on Tuesday, March 12, 2013. He had been in ill-health for a number of years.
Burr played on the first three Iron Maiden albums, Iron Maiden, Killers and The Number of the Beast. With Iron Maiden on the verge of worldwide stardom, Burr was replaced under circumstances which remain murky to this day by Nicko McBrain for 1983’s Piece of Mind album. The official reason given was personal problems and difficulties in dealing with the heavy touring schedule.
Burr played with a string of other bands for the next dozen years, but never achieved the success he had with Iron Maiden. In the early 1990’s Burr’s musical career came to an abrupt end when he noticed tingling in his hands. He received a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis in 1994.
His former band mates held several charity events during the last decade which they called “Clive-Aid” to raise money to help Burr with his medical expenses which had left him in debt.
Steve Harris, Dave Murray and Clive Burr at 2007’s CliveAid Concert
Iron Maiden manager Rod Smallwood said in 2002 at the first benefit, “Maiden has always been a family and even after all these years, we still consider Clive to be part of the family and as such we feel we should help him in any way possible.”
There has been a long simmering debate among hardcore Maiden fans about who was the better drummer, Burr or McBrain?
They were so different in style that a comparison is very difficult, but I always preferred Burr’s lucid, free jazz-style drumming. Continue reading →
Metal Church put out great albums during the 1980’s and 1990’s and even opened for Metallica during their 1991 tour and this should have lead to more exposure for the band. But Metal Church never caught on with the music video generation and that may have had an big impact on sales. Continue reading →
Great Metal Albums from the 1980’s That Have Been Forgotten
Still one of the most exciting things for me is to be introduced to great music that I have never heard before. It doesn’t matter if it was made this year or thirty years ago. If you haven’t heard it before, it’s new to you, isn’t it?
I started thinking about bands casual heavy metal fans may be familiar with by name, but not their work with the exception of possibly a song or two. That lead to the creation of this list. Rather than focus on great albums from well known bands such as Judas Priest, Slayer, Megadeth, Metallica, Anthrax, Iron Maiden, Dio, Van Halen, Testament, Overkill, Exodus or any of the well known bands, these are bands and albums that may have had a brief moment in the spotlight or are known for the wrong reasons, like an MTV video.
So in chronological order, here is part one of twelve albums that you should check out.
1980 – Angel Witch – Angel Witch (Bronze Records)
What a debut album should be: songs with one amazing hook after another. Angel Witch emerged from The New Wave of British Heavy Metal looking like they would rise to the top. This trio lead by Kevin Heybourne lead singer and guitarist should have conquered the world. For whatever reason it never happened. Almost every song on here is a classic in songwriting 101. Continue reading →
Rarely will my mouth hang open in disbelief. I’m too jaded. This photograph of the visual kei band Ensoku with the nightmare Disneyesque theme did not make my jaw drop. But their music video did.
I’m not sure if this is brilliant, but I had a smile on my face the whole time while watching their video. It’s great to make an entire song out of a utilitarian object. You’d think four words repeated over and over would not be enough to have a killer song. You’d be wrong. Here is This is a Pen.