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Daniels, Neil
Iron Maiden: The Ultimate Unauthorized History Of The Beast (Book Review)
August 2012
Released: 2012, Voyageur Press
Rating: 5.0/5
Reviewer: JP

It was only a matter of time before Voyageur Press did an illustrated history of Iron Maiden. There has been one for AC/DC, Aerosmith, Queen and Led Zeppelin so I’m not surprised that Iron Maiden, one of the more visually interesting Metal bands was slated for release. Daniels, one of England’s most respected and prolific Metal authors, got the nod to write the story. He is a great choice as he has penned works on Robert Plant, Metallica and a trio of books related to Judas Priest.

IRON MAIDEN, Daniels 13th book (I believe), carries the wordy subtitle, THE ULTIMATE UNAUTHORIZED HISTORY OF THE BEAST. Despite the title the author claims this is not an attempt to be the definitive tale of Iron Maiden, but I think Daniels is being modest as this is a fantastic visual documentation of the band. There are about nine other books about Iron Maiden and this is the best looking by far, with the recent photography collection FLIGHT 666 coming in a close second. The book is virtually free of mistakes or inconsistencies with a couple of tiny exceptions not even worth mentioning.

Voyageur Press does a great job with the layout and design of this book. It follows a similar look and feel to the AC/DC title. First impression are excellent as the book has a very cool, die-cut hardcover of Eddie peering out from behind a steel wall and you open the cover to reveal a newer piece of Eddie art done by Derek Riggs (in 2011) called ‘Speakermouth Eddie’. It looks great! IRON MAIDEN is 224 pages long and has a simple chronological format and provides hundreds of full-colour photos (on glossy paper) documenting every age and every era of the band. There are shots of all sorts of neat memorabilia, T-shirts, tickets stubs, posters, pins, patches, badges, singles, promotional flyers, backstage passes as well as countless shots of the band in the studio or on the road. Some are candid shots and some are professional photo shoots. I thought it was neat to compare a photo shoot of the band standing on the street in NYC in 1981 (p.34) and a very similar shot of the band standing on a street in NYC 19 years later in 2000 on page 134. There are also several photos of the books that have inspired band members over the years as the band is known to have successfully plundered many pieces of literature for thematic and lyrical inspiration.

There are many, many additional features. There is a wealth of material for the Maiden fan here and all nicely referenced and catalogued through various sections in the book. There is a section called ‘Where Are They now’ which tracks the activities of ex-members of the band. There are brief write-ups on the guest contributors. There are exhaustively extensive notes about deviations in the history of tour dates. In fact this is the most comprehensive documentation of the history Maiden tour dates I’ve seen. There is an extensive bibliography and very comprehensive discography including chart positions, producers, studios, track-lists and more, as well as capturing all the non-album stuff, live albums, EP’s, box-sets, video compilations and so forth.

There is a guest contributor writing a commentary on each studio album. Guest writers include the usual suspects, Mick Wall, Martin Popoff, John Tucker, Ian Christie and others. These album reviews are opinion pieces and generally well-done and not too far out of check with reality. Daniels gives equal time, energy and devotion to all eras of the band, it’s nice to see the Blaze era get some respect and attention, despite a general sentiment among Maiden fans that it was a lower point in the bands career arc. As this is a new book it includes recent developments such as and the Final Frontier Tour and the retro tours. Daniels also includes some interesting sidebars such as a spotlight on Dickinson as a renaissance man and a mini-feature on Iron Maiden enduring and expanding global popularity. Others include a spotlight on Rod Smallwood and one on Sam Dunn’s documentary film FLIGHT 666.

As I mentioned there are quite a few books about Iron Maiden, but most of them have a special focus. There is a book about Blaze, a book about Bruce, a book about Paul, a book about Riggs, a book about memorabilia, a book about Ed Force One (the plane) but with the exception of Mick Walls excellent authorized biography from back in 1998, there hasn’t been a really good looking, comprehensive history of the band to date. IRON MAIDEN: THE ULTIMATE UNAUTHORIZED HISTORY OF THE BEAST I believe is that book, the best, most comprehensive look at the band so far. Every Maiden fan should have this in their library.
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