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Iron Maiden – The Number Of The Beast & Beast Over Hammersmith


Last Updated on 12:36 AM by Giorgos Tsekas

One of the most popular games historians have is the so called “what if” game. You know the alternate turns in which the narration of History would be totally different. What if Hitler won the WWII (well check Philip Dick’s sci-fi book ‘The Man In The High Castle’ about it…), what if Roman emperor Constantine never baptized Christian, what if , what if…so many historical events that if were never happened or had alternate end, human history and even our lives would have been so different… in music and especially in extreme sound many times we’ve wondered how Metallica would sound if Cliff never killed in that horrible accident or Lars was slipping in his bed, or how we could live without Motorhead if Lemmy wouldn’t take the wrong drugs and so on, and so on, so many little more or less important stories and questions.

Truth be told Music Press had more power in the past decades and especially in the 80’s, where when you read something in a magazine or newspaper people almost always believed it and some statements such as ‘Total Eclipse’ should fit better in the place of ‘Gangland’ or ‘Invaders’ that were written back in the day, and later Steve Harris in the official autobiography of Iron Maiden confirmed: “On this vinyl release we get the chance to put ‘Total Eclipse’ in its rightful spot on the album for the first time. The reason it didn’t make it in the first place was that it was all a mad rush when we were finishing the record and we had to get the ‘Run to the Hills’ single out before the tour and we basically had to pick a B-side and it was between ‘Gangland’ and ‘Total Eclipse’ and we just picked the wrong one, really! I think ‘Total Eclipse’ is a stronger song and the album would have been stronger if it had been on there.” were pinned on the subconscious of all metalheads.

Well in order to connect the two above paragraphs we should say that History can’t be re-written or revision, ‘Total Eclipse’ was on the B’side of ‘Run To The Hills ‘12”  single by (good or bad ) choice of the band and could use it even if it was a flipside as a track on the album that would have 9 songs from the first press, also later ‘Total Eclips’e was on the Japanese edition of ‘The Number of The Beast’ album as a gift to their loyal fans there, and last but not least despite the fact that it is a strong composition it wouldn’t add something more to the glory of the LP, nothing more that the opener ‘Invaders’ (on top of this, Harris has stated that the record’s ‘Invaders’, was not good enough, commenting that it “could have been replaced with something a bit better, only we didn’t have anything else to replace it with at the time. We had just enough time to do what we did, and that was it”) or ‘Gangland’ gave, which the last one is replaced on this year, 40th anniversary edition of ‘The Number of The Beast’. We loved the record as it was from the 27th of March 1982 that was originally out.  Anyway we can’t stay more in this Iron Maiden’s decision, after all we are talking for one the most important release that ever was out in the Heavy Metal Universe, ‘The Number of The Beast’ and its legacy will live forever with or without ‘Total Eclipse’ on its tracking list.

‘The Number of the Beast’ is the third studio album by Iron Maiden. It was released on 22 March 1982 via EMI Records. The album was their first to feature vocalist Bruce Dickinson (ex-Samson, Styx, Speed &Shots) and their last with drummer Clive Burr. Some of the finest moments in Heavy Metal History are in the 12” fine-grooved disc made of PVC of ‘The Number of the Beast’…’Hallowed Be Thy Name’, ‘Children of the Damned’ (which is based on the films Village of the Damned and Children of the Damned, which in turn were adapted from the novel The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham. On his last radio show for BBC Radio 6, during a segment in tribute to the late Ronnie James Dio, Dickinson mentioned that Children of the Damned was inspired by Black Sabbath’s ‘Children of the Sea’), ‘The Prisoner’ (that  was inspired by the British TV show of the same name, and features dialogue from its title sequence. Iron Maiden later made another song based on the series, ‘Back in the Village’ from 1984’s masterpiece ‘Powerslave’),  ‘22 Acacia Avenue’ (which is the second song in the ‘Charlotte the Harlot’ -we heard on the band’s debut- saga, which was originally written by Adrian Smith several years earlier with the title “Countdown”, while playing in his old band, Urchin. According to Smith, Steve Harris remembered hearing the song at an Urchin concert in a local park, and modified it for The Number of the Beast album) as also the aforementioned single ‘Run to the Hills’ (that was credited solely to the band’s bassist, Steve Harris, but Dickinson also contributed to the song but could not be credited due to a contractual agreement with his former band Samson. As most of you already know the song documents the colonization of the Americas, first by Europeans and then by Americans, from the perspective of a Cree Indian and American cavalryman. The opening verse is from the perspective of the Cree, describing his troubles as the European Americans “came across the sea”, bringing the Cree “pain and misery”. The song is written from both perspectives; the second verse is from the perspective of a U.S. cavalry soldier, describing his involvement in the American Indian Wars, “chasing the redskins back to their holes”. The third verse is not from the perspective of any single individual, and harshly condemns the effects of American expansionism on Native Americans, resulting in the “[Americans] raping the women and wasting the men”, and “enslaving the young and destroying the old”) and the sophomore single ‘The Number of the Beast’ (April 26th, 1982), the former of which became the band’s first top-ten UK single. The album was also controversial, particularly in the United States, due to the religious references in its famous and now iconic artwork and the title track’s lyrics. The song was in fact inspired by a nightmare bassist Steve Harris had, triggered by watching the film Damien: Omen II late at night. In addition, Harris has stated that the lyrics were also influenced by Robert Burns’ Tam o’ Shanter. The track opens with a spoken introduction from the Book of Revelation, read by actor Barry Clayton. According to Dickinson, the band originally approached Vincent Price to record the passage, but was unwilling to pay Price’s fee of £25,000. Although the liner notes state that the passage is from Revelations 13:18, the first line comes from 12:12. Since the release of it and its subsequent tour The Beast on the Road, ‘The Beast’ has become an alternate name for Iron Maiden and was later used in the titles of some of their compilations and live releases. One of them is ‘Beast Over Hammersmith’.

 ‘Beast over Hammersmith’ was originally released on 4 November 2002. Recorded though 20 years previously, on March 20, 1982 two days before the original release of ‘The Number of The Beast’ LP, during The Beast on the Road tour (that would last 10 months and include 4 continents) at the Hammersmith Odeon, the footage was specially co-produced and mixed by Steve Harris and Doug Hall to be a part of the Eddie’s Archive box set. Eddie’s Archive is a box set, released on 16 November 2002. The box, an embossed metal casket featuring the face of mascot Eddie, contains three double CDs, the Iron Maiden family tree and a shot glass (The family tree is an updated version of the family tree that originally came with A Real Dead One in 1993. But as the  Eddie’s Archive was originally released as a limited edition, with the family tree numbered, however, due to demand, it was later re-released with a different color inlay (changed from blue to red) and with the family tree unnumbered, in order to preserve the value of the original issue). ‘Beast Over Hammersmith’ was also (a part of it) on the DVD ‘The History of Iron Maiden – Part 1: The Early Days’, that released in 2004, and it features the first part of The History of Iron Maiden series, a 90-minute documentary which describes their beginnings in London’s East End in 1975 through to the Piece of Mind album and tour in 1983. The set also features a large collection of rare videos and concert footage, as well as interviews with former members such as Paul Di’Anno, Clive Burr, Dennis Stratton, Dave Sullivan, Terry Rance, Doug Sampson, Ron Matthews, Terry Wapram and Bob Sawyer.

The live recording captures a band at their finest moment, on top notch performance, passionate, thirsty for blood, hungry for fame and desire to conquer the world. It has a slice different (and much better) artwork cover that makes it an excellent buy for any collector. As this is one of the richest re-issue of this legendary, insurmountable and incomparable record, which counts several almost 15 authentic/official re-issues, it makes this edition more than anniversary but almost festive…and irresistible for any collector.


Giorgos Tsekas
Giorgos Tsekas
"Κάποτε Όταν Θα ‘χουμε Καιρό... Θα Σκεφτούμε Πάνω Στις Ιδέες Όλων Των Μεγάλων Στοχαστών, Θα Θαυμάσουμε Τους Πίνακες Όλων Των Μεγάλων Ζωγράφων, Θα Γελάσουμε Με Όλους Τους Χωρατατζήδες, Θα Φλερτάρουμε Όλες Τις Γυναίκες, Θα Διδάξουμε Όλους Τους Ανθρώπους" Μπ. Μπρεχτ

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