Iron Maiden - The Early Days Part 1
Metal Documentary

Release year: 2004
Iron Maiden, Sanctuary
Reviewed by Ben

What Iron Maiden’s The Early Years DVD basically is, is an in depth overview of the bands inception up until the World Slavery Tour. For those that have read the bio book that came out several years ago (updated in 2001) Run to the Hills nothing is really new in terms of the story however it is a treat to have the visual companion to all the old members stories. Starting from the beginning, and I do mean the very beginning the documentary regales us with tales of a youthful Maiden before anyone knew just who the hell they were. This is perhaps the most striking thing about this whole package, when the viewer sits back and the realization that even the mighty Iron Maiden used to be a bunch of nobodies gigging around in dive bars, just like everyone else. It is also very easy to see why this band became so popular when you listen and watch Steve Harris being interviewed. Even now, at the peak of their popularity and knowing the fact that the band could stop right now at this very moment and never have to work again for the rest of their lives, he still has that grim determination that he has had since day one to be the best band out there. Another personality that is the most vivid is that of their manager Rod Smallwood. He comes across as a savvy and extremely professional businessman and I wholly agree with Steve that if it wasn’t for him then Iron Maiden may not be around today. Charisma seeps out of him in buckets and you can’t help but enjoy his charming banter. Even though they are basically rendered a footnote in history, known to only the diehard fans (and even then just scantly) the interview clips with members prior to the debut are extremely nice to have. Seeing just how much shit this band had dropped on their nose just goes to prove that they earned everything they have today. From near breakups due to an egotistical singer (Wilcock) to dreary walks through the streets depressed and broke before having a run in with an old friend and his bassist that would change your life forever (Adrian) this documentary is packed with stories that make you mutter, “Wow,” and “holy shit that’s unbelievable.”

After watching the ninety minute story of the Beast there’s over two hours of rare live footage to feast your eyes and ears upon. The earliest gig known to be recorded of the band is here, a forty five minute set at the Ruskin Arms that was shot the day the self titled debut album was released is here and the sound quality is surprisingly good for a video of this nature. While being very raw, this is the band at their most innocent so to speak, at their hungriest. Seeing them play in such a small place to a packed house that is going insane for the songs that we will come to call classics really takes the viewer back and places them in the middle of that musty sweatbox. Basically the debut in its entirety (other than the bands eponymous flag song strangely) and Wrathchild I find this the best performance on here. Another Di’Anno era performance is archived with the reissue of Live at the Rainbow on disc one. A short but energetic seven song show this is more like icing on the cake rather than something you will come back to again and again. A portion of the legendary Hammersmith gig that was recorded on the Beast on the Road tour is also included and here we see Bruce Dickinson in all his youthful glory. After hearing the show on Eddie’s Archives last year I like how I can finally see the band in the flesh performing this show. It really is mindblowing hearing songs off the as then unreleased Number of the Beast and seeing how well they go down to a crowd completely unfamiliar with them. Finally, we come to some songs from a performance in Dortmund, 1983 and hear a few Piece of Mind era tracks. Other than that little extra the songs are found on the Hammersmith gig too and in my opinion that is the better of the two. Promotional videos from the years the documentary covers are here as well, Women in Uniform through The Trooper they are interspersed with various TV spots and appearances. Granted, I haven’t watched these that much as I have played them over and over when I got Visions of the Beast about a year ago.

It is blatantly obvious that The Early Years is for the hardcore Maiden fan, who else would want to sit through an hour and a half of archival footage? It is also apparent that there was a lot of time spent on the production and presentation, it isn’t something that got crapped out to make a buck. Now I’m looking forward to part two.

Killing Songs :
Ben quoted no quote
Other albums by Iron Maiden that we have reviewed:
Iron Maiden - The Book of Souls reviewed by Goat and quoted 73 / 100
Iron Maiden - The Final Frontier reviewed by Goat and quoted 83 / 100
Iron Maiden - Flight 666 DVD reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Iron Maiden - Killers reviewed by Thomas and quoted CLASSIC
Iron Maiden - Iron Maiden reviewed by Thomas and quoted CLASSIC
To see all 29 reviews click here
4 readers voted
You did not vote yet.
Vote now

There are 3 replies to this review. Last one on Tue Nov 30, 2004 10:49 am
View and Post comments