Captain Ed's AOTM - October: Iron Maiden - Live After Death

Ed Seith

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    Scream for me, Long Beach!

    If you were a metal fan in the 1980s and you didn't know this rallying cry, then you weren't a metal fan in the 80s. It really was that ubiquitous. Released 36 years ago this week, Live After Death is, quite simply, the best live heavy metal album ever made. Filmed over 4 nights at Long Beach Arena (not too far from Huntington Beach) in California, late in the year-long "World Slavery Tour" to promote the near-perfect Powerslave album from the Golden Age of Iron Maiden (with an additional 20 minutes recorded from 4 nights at Hammersmith Odeon in the UK), Live After Death is a ferocious picture of Iron Maiden in their glorious prime, with an equally ferocious Derek Riggs illustration of "Eddie the 'Ead" bursting from the grave, a bolt of lightning devastating the bolt holding his skull together after the full lobotomy represented on the Piece of Mind album cover. This is probably my favorite album cover of all time.

    My cousin Bobby, who sold me my first used guitar (An Aria Pro II "explorer" style fixed bridge beauty in black), was a huge Maiden fan. By the mid-80s, I was still into the more radio-friendly "metal-lite" fare, like Def Leppard and Quiet Riot, with a few other similar bands sprinkled in. I was still fairly new to the scene, and new to guitar, but Bobby pushed me to dive into Maiden. I bought Powerslave on vinyl, because I had a record player in my room. I remember pulling the album out of the sleeve and putting it on, gorging myself on the Egyptian imagery as I laid down on the bed with the dust jacket draped in song lyrics.

    About halfway through Aces High, the guitar solo kicked in, and it was so much longer than any solo I'd ever heard before that I had to wonder if they'd simply NOT used the rest of the lyrics printed on the sheet and finished the song as an instrumental. Of course I was wrong. By Two Minutes to Midnight, the gruesome lyrical imagery ("jellied brains" and "feed them to our babies," etc) made this the most "evil" thing my young mind had ever been exposed to (so far). Maybe they really WERE satanic??? Back in the Village was among my favorite tracks on the album. The riff was just crazy. So fast, so powerful. The nearly 14-minute Rime of the Ancient Mariner was amazing, though I thought it was a bit too repetitive and the slow section in the middle just way too long (and I got my literature teacher to play the song, in its entirety, in our class when we studied Coleridge).

    That album changed my life. Seriously. And the cover had so many "easter eggs" all over it. I studied it for days.

    Soon after came the live album, Live After Death. I asked for this album for Christmas, and to her credit, Mom (disgusted by the cover art as she was) wrapped the vinyl double-album in Santa paper to put it under the tree. I absolutely devoured it. For all the songs that weren't on Powerslave, these versions were the very first ones I heard, and therefore they will always be THE proper versions of the songs. Hearing the studio versions of songs like Revelations later made them seem slow, and dull. Lifeless. Everything on LAD was absolute ferocity.

    Then there was the home video of the entire show. So much to see, from the Eddie props, to the Egyptian backdrop, to the live performance, with each and every one of the members on top of their game. Watching Dave and Adrian trade licks, Adrian leaning on Dave's shoulder. It wouldn't be until over 30 years later that I could actually see them do the same thing in-person from about as close, and I was as giddy as a schoolboy when I did. Bruce running the massive stage end to end over and over again, never missing a note (and I can confirm, he can STILL fuckin do it, even over 60 years old and recovered from throat cancer!).

    When I got a little older and had a car, I bought LAD again on cassette. Then when the CD came out, I bought it yet again, without realizing the entire 4th side (The Hammersmith songs, some of my absolute favorites on the album) weren't included because they wanted to keep it to one CD. Eventually, the 2-CD version was released and I bought it YET AGAIN.

    Favorite tracks: Revelations, Hallowed be Thy Name, 22 Acacia Avenue, Children of the Damned, Phantom of the Opera
    Dislike: No "Back in the Village," and the ripping version of "Sanctuary" on the companion home video release is not included.
     

    Ed Seith

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    I’m genuinely curious, why isn’t “The Trooper” listed in your favorite tracks ? Obviously it’s one of the most well know maiden songs, it’s that why per chance ?

    Great song, great performance, but it's been done to death and it's on EVERY live Maiden album. I never skip a single song, but I wouldn't consider that a standout for me. Thanks!
     
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    Alicia Willis

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    I’ve never listened to a live Maiden album before so this was quite a treat.
    Also, I’ve only become a fan in the past few years thanks to my Husband 😊

    My favorites:

    Right off the bat….starting off the show with the speech and hearing the crowd roaring got me pumped before they even played anything. (Fuck I miss live shows 😭)

    Obviously, since I’ve not been a fan for too long …the first track for me that got me going was The Trooper. Just fucking love the vibe of that song, it’s fun and playful, and my god I’m loving the live vocals. Perfection ! And solo perfectly nailed !


    The Number of the Beast- I’ve watched the hubs play this one many times so it’s definitely going to be a favorite.
    The beginning riff though always reminds me of “Miss Mary Mack” and I always catch myself singing it instead of the actual lyrics lol.


    Run to the Hills— when I was first introduced to the band this was one of the songs that stuck out to me the most because the lyrics really grabbed my attention. It’s a poignant, adrenaline filled masterpiece.

    Thanks for the awesome rec Captain !
     
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    Willard D. Veator

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    I haven't heard a lot of Iron Maiden yet it's going to be my first album
    That you bought the album many times over it's amazing
    I was at that arena one time for a7x before I moved it was the best time for me
    After I didn't want to leave but I already had a ticket and not many options
    It's nice reading all these stories and the album art is a cool addition
    I'm going to start it now
    Thanks!
     
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    Miika Raatikainen

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    Ooooh Yes, Live after death, now we are talking.
    Iron maiden is the reason why i startetd to listen to rock/metal from a really early age, and this live performance is absolute magic, by all the members in the band. especially Murray's killer solo during powerslave. Bruce's killing vocals in Revelations. Just flawless throughout the hole album. And yeah, LAD was blasting out my speakers when i was writing all this, i couldn't resist.

    "Day after day, day after day
    We stuck nor breath nor motion
    As idle as a painted ship upon a painted ocean
    Water, water everywhere and
    All the boards did shrink
    Water, water everywhere nor any drop to drink.

    UP THE IRONS
     

    Ed Seith

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    It's definitely "old school" metal - I took my daughter to the Book of Souls tour in 2017, and she called them "Dad Rock" (but she fell in love with openers Ghost), but man, that these guys are still fire almost 40 YEARS after this live album was done? Shit. Not sure anyone else alive could do that, especially the way Bruce STILL runs the stage.

    @Willard D. Veator ya gotta let me know what you think once you finish it!
     

    Willard D. Veator

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    I'm still taking in this album right now the song Revelations got it on repeat, really enjoying it. That part I think it sounds like a chorus effect, I like how it changed up. Going to try and listen to how the songs are structured more, it's amazing :D

    edit update: Iron Maiden's wiki page is long o_O
     
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    Millie Imber

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    Right off the bat, this album sparks joy for me - I'm a huge Maiden fan (if you had to hang around me after the release of Senjutsu, I'm so sorry 😂) also, the artwork is just beautiful. I recall when they introduced that Eddie to the mobile game and broke the meta for a bit... Fun times!

    Anyway, to the actual music. This album has really made me appreciate live albums. Normally I gloss over them, and I did that with this album when I was like, 10 and just getting into metal. Screw the live sound, just give me studio stuff! In fact, the intro to 2 Minutes To Midnight, where Bruce introduces it, is permanently etched in my brain because that was all I'd hear before skipping it 😂 But I tell you, hearing a live version of Aces High hits different, even if it sounds weird without those high notes in the verse (gotta save em for Trooper, I guess 😂) speaking of which, the reference to Bruce Forsyth after Trooper was a nice touch I didn't think I'd catch. If you don't know of him, look him up.

    Revelations is one of my all time favs. I hear it every time I boot up the mobile game (when it takes forever to load!) and it's my fav part of it, as well as the solo showing up in the PVP Arena! So when I realised it was this track, since I played the game before I went on my Maiden deep dive, I was thrilled! The clean sections just fill a part of my soul, and then the transition to the harder riffs... So damn good! They play it faster live too, and I love that.

    Now is it me, or is Flight of Icarus one of those songs that just gives you that sudden burst of motivation to get shit done? Everytime I hear it, it's like fuel. No, I cannot explain it. Its just got great energy.

    Also, the line "This is what not to do if your bird shits on you" is the greatest way to introduce a song, I will accept nothing else. Mariner is such a great track, one of the long ones that just takes you on a wild journey. It'd take me a whole thread to talk about it (also that haunting second part before picking up is in the game too, and it works so damn well for the story) 😂

    Ah, Powerslave. My fav art, and my fav theme. This is one song I wish I could see live, not just to hear, but to see the stage display. Watching one of the docs about the Somewhere in Time tour (I think?) and seeing the setup for this... Ughh!

    Hallowed Be Thy Name with the live ambience and reverb for the intro and throughout.. Now THAT is incredible. This is one of those songs that has to be played live to get the proper effect from it in my opinion.

    Running Free, Wrathchild and Children of the Damned are also up there for me, really great tracks, and they're tracks I hope if I get to see them, I'll get to hear live 😂 and there's no better way to end than with Phantom of the Opera! One of the first tracks my guitar teacher tried to show me 😂

    But I won't ramble on more, I could sit and talk Maiden all day! Thank you Ed for suggesting this album, it really was great to hear these songs live and properly appreciate them now! Bring back live shows! 🤘💀🤘🔥
     
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    Ed Seith

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    Right off the bat, this album sparks joy for me - I'm a huge Maiden fan (if you had to hang around me after the release of Senjutsu, I'm so sorry 😂) also, the artwork is just beautiful. I recall when they introduced that Eddie to the mobile game and broke the meta for a bit... Fun times!

    Anyway, to the actual music. This album has really made me appreciate live albums. Normally I gloss over them, and I did that with this album when I was like, 10 and just getting into metal. Screw the live sound, just give me studio stuff! In fact, the intro to 2 Minutes To Midnight, where Bruce introduces it, is permanently etched in my brain because that was all I'd hear before skipping it 😂 But I tell you, hearing a live version of Aces High hits different, even if it sounds weird without those high notes in the verse (gotta save em for Trooper, I guess 😂) speaking of which, the reference to Bruce Forsyth after Trooper was a nice touch I didn't think I'd catch. If you don't know of him, look him up.

    Revelations is one of my all time favs. I hear it every time I boot up the mobile game (when it takes forever to load!) and it's my fav part of it, as well as the solo showing up in the PVP Arena! So when I realised it was this track, since I played the game before I went on my Maiden deep dive, I was thrilled! The clean sections just fill a part of my soul, and then the transition to the harder riffs... So damn good! They play it faster live too, and I love that.

    Now is it me, or is Flight of Icarus one of those songs that just gives you that sudden burst of motivation to get shit done? Everytime I hear it, it's like fuel. No, I cannot explain it. Its just got great energy.

    Also, the line "This is what not to do if your bird shits on you" is the greatest way to introduce a song, I will accept nothing else. Mariner is such a great track, one of the long ones that just takes you on a wild journey. It'd take me a whole thread to talk about it (also that haunting second part before picking up is in the game too, and it works so damn well for the story) 😂

    Ah, Powerslave. My fav art, and my fav theme. This is one song I wish I could see live, not just to hear, but to see the stage display. Watching one of the docs about the Somewhere in Time tour (I think?) and seeing the setup for this... Ughh!

    Hallowed Be Thy Name with the live ambience and reverb for the intro and throughout.. Now THAT is incredible. This is one of those songs that has to be played live to get the proper effect from it in my opinion.

    Running Free, Wrathchild and Children of the Damned are also up there for me, really great tracks, and they're tracks I hope if I get to see them, I'll get to hear live 😂 and there's no better way to end than with Phantom of the Opera! One of the first tracks my guitar teacher tried to show me 😂

    But I won't ramble on more, I could sit and talk Maiden all day! Thank you Ed for suggesting this album, it really was great to hear these songs live and properly appreciate them now! Bring back live shows! 🤘💀🤘🔥
    Awesome! You need to find the whole video of this. This was the original Live After Death VHS tape home video, and it rules!

     

    Millie Imber

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    Awesome! You need to find the whole video of this. This was the original Live After Death VHS tape home video, and it rules!

    Oh this is phenomenal! This perfectly demonstrates everything I love about Maiden! Their energy onstage, how well they play, the attention to detail in their stage setups and just how all-out they go in general! They're a band that I feel everyone has to go and see at least once, because they seriously don't disappoint! Off to go find the full show!! 😍
     

    redlipsofdeceit

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    Oh, fuck yeah!
    Iron Maiden is one of my fav bands, and I regret so much that I missed their concert at Rock in Rio (in the same day A7X played, btw), because I was already too tired from the A7X concert. 😣
    Bruce's "air-raid siren" voice is something that blows my mind, and I've watched some videos of vocal coaches analyzing his live performances, and he really is an outstanding singer. His energy is unbelievable.
    Great rec, Ed! Thank you!