My latest perusal in the ongoing series of “Classic Albums” DVDs
is the 2001 Eagle Rock Entertainment release of Iron Maiden’s
“The Number of the Beast.” At the time of the album’s original
release during 1982, it was pivotal in the fortunes of this band,
while also highlighting the “New Wave of British Heavy Metal”
in general. By 1982, this genre had “arrived.” Perhaps it’s a
coincidence, but that same year, Judas Priest released
“Screaming for Vengeance,” their biggest album up to that point.
“The Number of the Beast” was Iron Maiden’s third album, and
the first one featuring vocalist Bruce Dickinson. With this release,
Iron Maiden was finally on the international map, in a big way.
Like the other volumes in the “Classic Albums” series, the songs
from this album are discussed, and historical footage of the era
in question is shown. Joining the band members at the mixing
console for these conversations was Martin Birch, the legendary
producer/sound engineer who began his tenure with Iron Maiden
while they recorded “The Number of the Beast” album. Birch had
also worked with other notable Hard Rock bands, such as Deep
Purple, since the late 1960’s/early 1970’s. Interviews with Rod
Smallwood, Iron Maiden’s indispensable manager, provided
interesting anecdotes and information. Dave Mustaine, the man
behind Megadeth, also contributed his thoughts and memories
of Iron Maiden, during these years.
By way of background, early concert footage from Paul Di’Anno’s
years with Iron Maiden was included. As every Metal fan knows,
Di’Anno was their first vocalist, roughly from 1976 to 1981. His
vocals were on their first two albums, “Iron Maiden” from 1980,
and “Killers,” released in 1981.
One of the important points in this film was the fact that Iron
Maiden became successful without the exposure of radio air
play or “hit singles.” Their uncompromising ascent to fame
was due to their constant touring, thereby spurring the
sales of their albums. In my book, this speaks volumes.
This roughly 48-minute main documentary is followed by
approximately 30 minutes of bonus material, largely
consisting of additional interviews, as well as some
“riffing” from guitarist Adrian Smith, in the studio.
The disc concludes with a special concert version of
“Hallowed Be Thy Name,” from a Río de Janeiro concert
during 2001. By this time, they had become a three-guitar band.
Needless to say, this is another excellent release in this
wonderful series, and a “must-view” for Iron Maiden fans.