Iron Maiden: Killers (1981)

I hope you all will join me this month for the Maiden Review Series 1980-88. I’m basically just going to be writing about my discovery point of when Maiden came into my world. I won’t be doing a song by song breakdown(sometimes I slipped up and caved) as I have done that already and there are a million reviews out there. So I thought I would change it up for these Maiden reviews. Kinda sorta…

Ok. I know what your thinking. Why is deKe’s starting with “Killers” when it actually was the second “Iron Maiden” album released after the debut in 1980?

The answer to that my friends is that I’m going by when I purchased these Maiden albums at the time. As you will see as we progress through the 80’s I get in synch with Maiden release dates!

I have told this story a few times but it was the summer of 1981. Hitting up record stores every week was what me and my buddy Muk did. Faithfully we would head downtown and go into all the record stores. 

Within a two-block radius back in 81, there were about five record stores in the vicinity located in downtown Thunder Bay. (Music City, Sam The Record Man, St James Music, Kings Stereo, and Record On Wheels).

Record On Wheels was where all of this went down. We headed into that store in July 81  as they had a section of Hard Rock. The two albums that stuck out to us right away were Def Leppard with there debut “On Through The Night”.

The other one was “Iron Maiden- Killers”.

It was now decision time. We only had enough money to each buy one record. (we were only 14 at the time).

Maybe Muk can remember how we decided that day but I grabbed “Killers” and Muk grabbed Leppard. 

Done Deal! Out the door and back home to drop the needle on our discoveries. It didn’t take long for both of us to call each other and see what we thought about our purchases!

Muk loved “On Through The Night” and I was blown away by “Killers”. (about two weeks after Muk bought “On Through The Night”, Def Leppard’s sophmore release “High N Dry” appeared in  shops in town and I don’t think I need to tell how quick my pal Muk grabbed the second Leppard release.)

I mean look at that Maiden cover! Band mascot Eddie brandishing an ax! No fooling about with this lot. You will get your senses smashed with these guys. Artist Derek Riggs always went beyond the call of duty with the Maiden covers and “Killers” was no exception.

Up until that point, I had never heard Metal done the Maiden way. This was a whole new sonic barrage that descended upon my ears.

Paul Di’Anno, Steve Harris, Clive Burr, Dave Murray, and Adrian Smith deliver on Killers a wall of sound throughout the albums 10 tracks.

For a first-time listening experience into the world of Maiden, it was quite an impact moment as two songs on Side 1 are instrumentals (The Ides of March and Genghis Khan). It only took me about 2 minutes to realize that these guys were solid serious players.

I had never heard twin lead guitars like Maiden before except KK Downing and Glenn Tipton who set the bar high back in 1979 when I heard “Judas Priests, Unleashed In The East” for the first time. 

Pretty soon there would be a changing of the guard in who would be my favorite twin lead guitarists.

Enter into my world, Adrian Smith and Dave Murray!

Clive Burr(RIP) was a monster on the kit. His drumming fit the bill perfect to the songs that Steve Harris was writing. Burr was almost like Ian Paice on speed. Clive was a great drummer for Maiden. 

It took me a few spins of “Killers” to realize there were no weak links in Maiden back in 81. I mean look at the back cover. What a selling point for me to see that action shot! Maiden was so cool about things that they even put a picture of there producer the late great Martin Birch on the back cover as well.

Paul Di’Anno had a very unique cool street like punk vibe going down on “Killers”. Paul showed up and delivered the goods on this record. When Paul sang “Wrathchild” you believed him. When “Murderers In The Rue Morgue” lifts off in that punky metal vibe. Paul’s voice is right in line with the tempo of the song. Even when Paul howled those “Ow Ow’s” (the song) on Killers you think he was getting stabbed. 

I love Maiden Gatefolds Part 1: (see pic below)

The anchor in Maiden to this day even is Steve Harris. What blew my mind back then was that it was the Bass player who was the key songwriter on Killers. Harris was and still is a phenomenal writer but back then in his early 20’s Steve set the bar high and with Rod Smallwood managing the band they had their eye on the prize.

Those prizes would surely come.

Killers released February 2, 1981 

Killers album sales in Canada- Platinum

Killers album sales in the U.S- Gold


34 thoughts on “Iron Maiden: Killers (1981)”

  1. I think you got the better record there, Dekester. On Through the Night always sounded rough and kinda underdeveloped to these ears. Some really good songs, but a fair bit of immature sloppy songwriting. Joe Elliot’s singing is frequently weak and off key on it too. All problems obliterated on High ‘n’ Dry by wonder producer Robert John “Butt” Stanke. Now that’s a great record! I still like On Through the Night though, despite and sometimes because of all the rough spots.

    My love for Killers is unconditional though. That album is stellar. My vinyl is an original European version, but it’s not a gatefold! No fair! I’m just glad Twilight Zone isn’t on it, and it’s got the extra hi-hat flourish to open up Killers missing on some North American versions, including the Castle CD version I’ve got. It’s a little thing, but it matters!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think both bands being young is the charm on both those albums. That massive Early Years box that came out this year has that Live Lepp show from 80 which is off the hook.
      I was lucky that I got a few of these Maiden gatefolds a few years back when I turned 50. It pays to get old!


    2. Deke….we got a lot of mileage out of those two records, and Thus begun the great Maiden/Leppard debate. I will say that Iron Maiden won the overall ‘stay hard and heavy’ war. Killers is STILL such a great album. Too bad D’anno was such a dick, he coulda been a very rich man.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s been a long time since I’ve listened to this and I said to myself that when you post the album I’ll spend my time cranking.
    So here’s to Killers.
    Ans it’s every young music fans dilemma in those days.. what to buy with the limited funds we had? Lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! Limited funds indeed. Still rings true today as there is no way I can afford these mega box sets Pete.
      That’s why buying them on iTunes is the way to go for me.
      Thanks for not only reading but cranking the albums up along the way!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Similarly, I’ve never heard of a bass player being the driving force behind a band. I’m used to the guitarist being the main force and writing all the songs. Then again I always underestimated basses, until I heard Suzi Quatro in 2018. The first time I heard Maiden was on a music reaction youtube channel in 2019, the song was “The Trooper,” but Eddie grabbed my attention quickly as his face was everywhere when I searched up the band. I took a break from Maiden for a little bit, but I slowly got into them again this past summer. Great write-up and thanks for sharing your story on how you got the ‘Killers’ album.

    ‘On Through the Night’ is not a bad record, but ‘High ‘n’ Dry’ is where the band refined their sound more, and like Sav said, they used to get drunk every night and still try to record.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading. What a mascot and what a great clever marketing move!
      For two 14 year olds to stumble out of a record shop with these two records in 1981 and to still be talking about them 39 years later says something about longevity, doesn’t it. The band that is, lol

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I loved Eddie the moment I saw him, mostly because I have a fascination with skulls. Once people see Eddie, they immediately think Iron Maiden and vice versa. I give props to you for liking a band for that long. The longest I’ve liked an artist was three years haha! Hopefully that will change with artists I’m into now.


  4. This a great start Deke! I have never bought Maiden before as at this point is such a daunting task with so much out there, but you guys are slowly wearing me down and I might have to start getting this stuff…for the artwork at the very least.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Deke….we got a lot of mileage out of those two records, and Thus begun the great Maiden/Leppard debate. I will say that Iron Maiden won the overall ‘stay hard and heavy’ war. Killers is STILL such a great album. Too bad D’anno was such a dick, he coulda been a very rich man.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Paul walked away from a million 💵 dollar and than some payday by being too much of a party guy!
      Boy we had some good debates back than that’s for sure
      Thanks for checking in. Make sure you drop back in Friday with another blast from your past!


  6. Oh….and I completely forgot to mention Steve Harris. The guy plays bass like a freight train coming right at you. I loved how heavy and punky this record was. Super gritty but had a really clear production value. Clive Burr was underrated in the sphere of metal drummers. Although, let’s face it, Nikki Mcbain is the man. Gonna spin some maiden at work today buddy. Up the irons !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well said Muk! Once Bruce came they shifted gears but Killers is a special album as that was both our discovery point for them and Leppard with OTTN!
      Great starter kits lol


    1. Thanks Joe! Yeah D’anno got caught up in the party treats and it was adios amigo especially with Harris and Smallwood captaining the SS MAIDEN!


  7. Man they know how to market themselves…I don’t know much about them but I know “Eddie” and their logos. It’s fun though to see how people got into different bands.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They totally know how to market themselves Max. I have never seen Maiden pictures of the band on T-shirts at there shows for sale it’s alwasy been, Eddie!
      Thanks for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Right choice made. On Through the Night is not the album this is! We had Records on Wheels in Guelph, I picked up some cool stuff there. Clear MSG single!

    I keep forgetting Clive is RIP. Sigh. You know, Bruce always said he was the best drummer that Maiden even had.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Clive was a powerhouse on the drums. I sometimes wonder how Piece of Mind and Powerslave would have sounded with Burr behind the kit.
      I read the Mick Wall Maiden biography when Bruce said Burr was better than Nicko. I think that comment was made when they were sniping each other after Bruce left.
      Recall Harris saying that Bruce would do a country album if it would sell. lol


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