A valiant, but somewhat flawed attempt of documenting Iron Maiden in the studio.
May is Maiden Mania Month for us at www.metal-rules.com. This month we are going to review lots of Iron Maiden related material. Two books, two CD’s and a Maiden DVD, all of it mostly related to the last two world tours: the Somewhere Back In Time World Tour (2008-2009) and the Final Frontier World Tour (2010-2011). Lastly, we have the formal results from The Iron Maiden Tournament run by Erik on our Metal Forum. Thanks to Erik for running this fun poll and series of threads. Feel free to enjoy all of these reviews in this mini-series. Feel free to enjoy all of these reviews in this mini-series.
Pop culture writer Jake Brown has begun dabbling in writing Metal biographies. He is most known for his ‘In The Studio’ series featuring a number of non-Metal artists but has written about Motorhead, AC/DC and now most recently Iron Maiden.
The style of the book is quite clever. Brown discusses chapter by chapter each Iron Maiden studio album. The book is a fun, simple read logging in at 235 pages. It also has about 20 photos on colour plates in the middle. The emphasis is somewhat obviously talking about the writing and recording process for each album. The vast majority of the info collected in this book is from magazines and the internet. While it is kind of nice to read Brown crediting this very site and using our interviews with various Iron Maiden members, that is a major flaw. Not in the sense that our interviews were flawed, far from it, but a book should have ‘some’ original content. There are virtually no interviews conducted by Brown with producers or engineers. Virtually all of the information in this book is already public. Brown just collected it. He did a good job, but it is nothing new. He really needed to extensively interview the two main producers of Iron Maiden albums namely Martin Birch and Kevin Shirley to give this book any sort of authenticity.
I don’t think Brown is a big Iron Maiden fan. He makes many, many mistakes in the book that an average fan would pick out. Brown has the annoying habit of incorrectly referring to Iron Maiden as an ‘indie’ band. Nothing could be further from the truth. They have been on the world’s largest record labels from day one. There is a lack of technical detail about singles and live albums as well. Those lack of details and errors really mar the book. I know it’s the job of the editor to catch these errors but an editor has to trust that the author knows what he or she is talking about in the first place.
For example on p. 122 Brown must have been drunk, high or very very tired, when he wrote that page. In the space of one page he makes four major mistakes. He says Blaze Bayley record three albums with Iron Maiden. Not true. He only recorded two THE X-FACTOR and VIRTUAL XI. He could be referring to the collection ‘BEST OF THE BEAST’ in which Bayley sung one new song, ‘Virus’ but that doesn’t count as an album. Brown erroneously refers to the 1999 video game ‘ED HUNTER’ as Flight 666. FLIGHT 666 is of course the name of their 2009 Double Live album which came out 10 years later. He also claims both THE X-FACTOR and VIRTUAL XI went platinum which is not the case. They were the first Iron Maiden albums that did NOT go platinum. I’d love to hear this magical, unreleased, platinum-selling, third album with Blaze on vocals! Lastly, he refers to Arnel Pineda (Journey) as being from a Japanese cover-band, which is not the case. Arnel was a successful solo artist in the Phillipines (not Japan) on a major label, well before Journey. Other mistakes are evident for example when Brown claims Megadeth has recorded a concept album and he earlier refers to ED HUNTER as the bands third compilation when it is actually the fifth. The book is littered with mistakes like this.
IRON MAIDEN IN THE STUDIO I believe is unofficial and/or unauthorized, unlike the Motorhead book in which Brown had, via Lemmy and co., better access to studio personal for first-hand interviews. It’s nice to have a collection of Maiden interviews with the band but they don’t really even talk about the recording process much. Quoting non-Metal sources like Spin, NME and the LA Times about Iron Maiden is not really digging that deep. If you are a Iron Maiden collector, this book might be OK for you. The rest of us can probably pass on this. Brown’s book on Motorhead is far superior, I think he just dropped the ball on this one. He’ll be back soon I hope with another Metal related ‘In The Studio’ title because the idea is really great and I know he is capable of better.