Iron Maiden’s “The Number of the Beast” is 35 Years Old

I was listening to “Boneyard” the XM Radio station whose one-time motto was “the station of road-trippin’ and binge drinking” and they said that “The Number of the Beast” by Iron Maiden was turning 35 years old. In that moment, I felt old, too.

“The Number of the Beast” is the first album by Iron Maiden featuring singer Bruce Dickinson with his soaring vocals. The prior singer, Paul Di’Anno, had a much lower, punk sort of voice range that was a bit less commercially successful. This was also the album that made them giant in the United States, with their videos such as “Run to the Hills” being played incessantly on MTV.

I took a snapshot of the album cover from Apple Music on my iPhone – I’m sure that somewhere there is a cassette, album, and CD of this disc somewhere that I’ve purchased and lost over the years. This is one of their best covers, with the mascot “Eddie” pulling the strings on the devil (who has his own little Eddie on a string).

After hearing that it was 35 years old, I put the album on the playlist and listened through it again. The album is full of classic songs, particularly “The Number of the Beast”, “Run to the Hills”, “Hallowed Be Thy Name”, and “Children of the Damned”, although I can pretty much sit through the whole album front to back. These songs are also the cornerstone of Iron Maiden’s setlist, being played even today at giant concerts featuring tens or hundreds of thousands of new, younger fans.

This album is routinely cited as one of the top metal and hard rock albums of all time. I was enthralled by the difficult time signatures and prominent bass of songs like “The Number of the Beast”, which starts out in 5/4 time and definitely has a different feel to it than most songs I was hearing in that era.

The album also used various voice-overs, such as the beginning of “The Prisoner” and of course the classic intro to “The Number of the Beast”. I think I carved that intro into a desk somewhere during an interminable study hall break during high school.

Iron Maiden is one of those bands that you would not think would remain so utterly popular across generations of fans, and yet they continue to fill stadiums and win over new metalheads every day with their live shows and vast collection of albums. At the time when this album came out there were protests over the imagery but nowadays this sort of stuff is tame by any standard.

Put on their classic album and hoist a beer for Iron Maiden! We’re old…

Cross posted at LITGM

8 thoughts on “Iron Maiden’s “The Number of the Beast” is 35 Years Old”

  1. I’m sorry but that music is just garbage. Why anyone with more than on brain cell would even consider listening to this aural excrement is beyond me.

  2. Well Peter H. I don’t know what “more than on” is but clearly you need more than one brain cell. Iron Maiden revolutionized the music world to a different style and generation they are one of the pioneers of music and have been a band that people know just by their name so maybe you might want to keep your fucking mouth shut when it comes to something you don’t have a clue about!

  3. This makes me feel old :) At the same time, its interesting to see which bands have endured and which have faded away after a few years. When I think of metal, only four bands come to mind: Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Metallica, and Scorpions. Sure there are others, but I have to fight to remember them.

  4. LOL. I was gonna stay out but it’s in progress. That is awful stuff. Now I did try but more than a few seconds is too much. It’s not very heavy, they are not great musicians and really it’s crap.

    So what’s good?

    Zappa is good:

    Jeff Beck with Vinnie and Taj:

    Oh hell, I’ll leave it there. You might notice a slight difference in the abilities displayed. ;)

  5. Hilarious. Recently, I heard Blue Oyster Cult playing overhead at the supermarket. Laughing to myself as I looked around, no one seemed fazed in the least, or were just tuning it out. Another day, it was a really ripping Black Crowes number, and another time, Foghat. I think back to how my mother reacted to this stuff when I played it, and just how berserk people would have gone had they heard this stuff at the supermarket. It’s weird because my son listens to, and appreciates stuff that I listened to forty years earlier. I however, never listened to any of the stuff my parents did.

  6. re: I however, never listened to any of the stuff my parents did.

    about 20 years ago, i decided maybe i should listen to some of the stuff my dad liked. benny goodman, harry james, gene krupa. the first CD i ever bought (i was a late adopter) was Duke Ellington, Live at Newport. The second was, IIRC, Benny Goodman, Live at Carnegie Hall 1938. In my list of top 10 rock and roll songs (which is probably about 20 long), I’ve put Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue off of the Duke Ellington album and Sing Sing Sing from Benny Goodman.

    Unfortunately, it was hard to find other stuff that matched the level of those two.

    I think my dad wasn’t all wrong. even if he didn’t like the stuff i listened to.

  7. My son and I grew into music together. I just took about 10″ of Zappa vinyl over to his house as his record player still works. We have over well over 1000 recordings between us. I still have another couple of feet of records, a huge pile of CDs and 2 or 3 hundred gig on discs. He has maybe 20′ of records.

    We have all the good stuff. No heavy metal at all. ;)

    A great deal of Jazz, going way back. All the greats and a few less so.

    Some rock but not a great deal. We like heavier stuff. So much is trivial. As well it’s been dead since it became mainstream, a rotting corpse.

    What you might call progressive music, LOL, I give you Blind Idiot God:

    They show up rarely but always a treat.

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