30 years ago. 30 fucking years. Wow. I remember it like it was yesterday. October 14th, 1985. I was 12 years old and this was the day that Iron Maiden would be releasing their long awaited live album, Live After Death. I knew it was coming so I abstained from buying any albums for month so that I’d have enough money to buy this double album. After school that day (it was a Monday) Mom took me to Warehouse Records and Tapes on Veterans Blvd in Metairie, LA and I ran in with my money. I bought the album and immediately opened it in the car on the way home. I was so blown away by the intense awesomeness of the layout. The gatefold cover, the inserts full of photos and lyrics, everything about this album just floored me. I just couldn’t wait to get home so I can play it on my turntable.
We got home and I grabbed a snack and made my way to my room and I was just giddy with excitement. Aside from Maiden Japan which featured the previous singer, Paul DiAnno, I had never heard Iron Maiden live up to this point in a somewhat full show so the anticipation of what I was about to hear just grew. As “Churchill’s Speech” filled my room, I just remember feeling so excited and then bam, there it was: “Aces High.” I sat there on my bed with the lyric sheets out reading along with every word and I was absolutely mesmerized. Just as I was really sinking into this album, “Revelations” comes on and even to this day I can remember the goose bumps. The epicness of “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” and that epic scream from Bruce as he sings, “Sinks down like lead into the Sea then down in falls comes the raiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnn ohhahahahahaha.” You know what I’m talking about you don’t you? How can I possibly forget, “SCREAM FOR ME LONGBEACH”? Just say that around any true Maiden fan and it will open a magical door of epic Iron Maiden discussions and debates.
Live After Death set the bar extremely high for every live album from any band that would come after or even before. It is without a doubt one of the most perfect live albums and I do mean “LIVE” in the truest sense of the word. There are not doctored vocals here. What we are hearing on this album is Iron Maiden live. You get to hear all of the subtle imperfections in Bruce’s voice that any singer would experience when putting on a live show of that caliber. It’s a truly magical live album that gets better with age. The older I get, the better this album sounds to me. Why is that? Maybe it’s because there have been so many shitty metal bands putting out shitty albums over the year. Who knows? All I know is that when I hear “Powerslave” off of this album, the guitar solo sends a chill up my spine just like it did the very first time I heard it 30 years ago.
Not only is Live After Death an amazing live album, I honestly believe that it is the best introduction to Iron Maiden. Live After Death is the perfect Iron Maiden 101. It covers so much ground of the Bruce Dickinson era and I feel like it’s one of their best set lists to date. It is so perfectly sequenced and the performances are electrifying. You can literally feel the energy and excitement coming through your speakers making you feel like you are actually there. Anytime I met someone who never heard Maiden before or didn’t know much about them, they got a 120 cassette with Live After Death on it.
30 years later, I still find that Live After Death is the best representation of what Iron Maiden is all about and it is still the best introduction to this band. It is a powerful live album that truly captures Iron Maiden at the peak of their career. You can feel the fire, the intensity, and the hunger of a young band that had one goal in mind: to rule the fucking world. Live After Death has stood the test of time and continues to age like a fine, unopened bottle of scotch and it is an album that will continue to ignite the spark of Iron Maiden fandom for generations to come.
Happy 30th Birthday, Life After Death. 30 looks good on ya!