Popoff, Martin – Iron Maiden Album By Album (Book Review)

Spread the metal:

Iron Maiden-Album By Album
Publisher: Voyageur Press
Year: 2018
Reviewed: Dec 2018
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer:  JP

The timing for this new Iron Maiden book is pretty good, seeing as the band just announced (as of time of writing) a new batch of North American dates for the Legacy Of The Beast Tour.

There are a lot of books about Iron Maiden, more than two dozen, so what could Martin Popoff add to the conversation that hasn’t already been said?  Well, that is the beauty of these ‘Album-by-Album’ books…they are essentially a conversation.  Imagine sitting in a bar with your buddies and talking about each album of a band (any band, doesn’t matter which), but you all sit down and chat it out…’best this’, ‘worst that’ etc…very casual, very fun and these are the conversations true music fans live for.   IRON MAIDEN ALBUM BY ALBUM is the fourth in this series by Popoff, following AC/DC, Rush, and Pink Floyd.  Voyageur Press does their usual top-notch job in terms of presentation, layout and design of this nice coffee-table book.  It’s over 250 pages, hard bound, loaded with colour, it matches the others in the series in terms of quality.

The sub-title says it all and Popoff leads a conversation with any number of Iron Maiden fans and experts as they go, chronologically album by studio album and discuss each one.  Popoff provides a little intro, the main pertinent facts about the writing, recording, the production and perhaps a bit on the tour and then the guest contributors (fifteen of them) weight in and speak eloquently and passionately about he good, the bad and the ugly of each Maiden platter.
There are some heavy hitters in his guest list, Brain Slagel (Metal Blade), Mike Portnoy, Marty Friedman, Nina Strauss,  Bobby ‘Blitz’  Ellsworth,  and more…all of them having some greater than usual connection to Maiden.  Popoff even got ex-Maiden front-man Blaze Bayley to contribute as well.  I felt the selection of guests was very good because some of the younger fans and industry people have alternate perspectives, not having quite grown up with the band from Day One.  It is not just a bunch of old dudes sitting around shaking their fists to the sky and yelling, ‘First five albums only’!

If there was a consensus, yes, there were some classic years but the band is now still on an amazing run that is as good or better than the 80’s.   Other perhaps rough consensus is the band tends to work in album pairs, before realizing a slight shift, the debut + KILLERS, then NUMBER OF THE BEAST+PIECE OF MIND+ POWERSLAVE, (Ok that one is three!) then SOMEWHERE IN TIME+SEVENTH SON OF A SEVENTH SON, then NO PRAYER FOR THE DYING +FEAR OF THE DARK, then the Blaze pair/era and on it goes.

Each contributor has insightful knowledge and trivia and as often happens with these types of books, memories resurface, long-forgotten facts are dredged up.  This is combined with a desire to go revisit an album that maybe isn’t a personal favourite, but when someone else champions that album, let’s say in this case Chris Jericho championing THE X-FACTOR, you want to go listen again with fresh ears and maybe see what you missed, or maybe dig your heels in!

IRON MAIDEN ALBUM BY ALBUM is Popoff’s third book on the band, but really the Derek Riggs book sorta doesn’t count, so this pairs beautifully with his IRON MAIDEN DAY-BY-DAY book from a few years back.  Somewhat predictably this is where I say it’s mandatory for all true Maiden fans and pretty essentially for most Metal fans as well. Despite some mild (very mild) reservations about yet another book about MAIDEN, the format, style and presentation won me over, ranking quite high in my library of 17 Iron Maiden and Iron-Maiden related books.