American press in 1982 was somewhat slow getting any kind of “Iron Maiden” information as Circus Magazine and Hit Parader had next to nothing about Iron Maiden in their magazines (that would change though).
It was a Canadian Magazine “Music Express” that had a section posted about upcoming releases one of them being Maiden with there third full-length release that being “The Number of The Beast” coming in March 1982.
Ok, so as January went into February and then rolled into March I would hit the record shops every Saturday and one trip to the record shops(I think it was Music City) there it was under the new releases on that cold March morning.
“The Number of the Beast”.
Whoa! Look at the cover! Is that iconic or what? Eddie peering over the Devil’s shoulder. Artist Derek Riggs was brilliant in designing those 80’s iconic Maiden covers. If a painting could say a thousand words. Riggs had that down to a fine art form.
The real shocker though came when I flipped the cover over and there it was. Steve Harris, Adrian Smith, Dave Murray, and Clive Burr.
Who was the long-haired fellow aiming that torch at me?
Bruce Dickinson? Who? Where’s Paul Di’Anno? Gone by the looks of it.
In any case, it didn’t matter as I was still going to buy TNOTB regardless.
Once I got home cracked open the vinyl and put it on my shit stereo. My 15-year-old years were blown away!
Within 1 minute of the opening tune Invaders and hearing this new guy Bruce sing. I was on board, I was sold, invested in the move that Harris and manager Rod Smallwood made. Ballsy but it paid off.
Paid off so much so that Tbone bought it himself on vinyl. Tbone followed my lead but being more of a single’s guy Tbone spent his cash wisely and waited to hear Run To The Hills (the first single).
We watched together the “Run To The Hills” video together for the first time on a show out of Toronto called “The New Music”.
Once Tbone seen the video he was hooked! Another copy of TNOTB sold in Tbay!
Adrian Smith gets into the songwriters club collaborating with Harris on the magnificent “22 Acacia Avenue”. How about that opening riff? Over the years you would know the Adrian written tunes as he would lead the charge with those iconic power riffs coming from his guitar.
“The Prisoner” was the second Smith composition with Harris and is another highlight for me on an album filled with highlights! How about that middle section of the song when Adrian and Clive Burr lock horns and synch up for that melodic metal guitar and drums mashup that leads right onto the solo!
I AM NOT A NUMBER! I’M A FREE MAN!
Speaking of Burr he gets a co-write on the song “Gangland” with Adrian. A song that has always gotten somewhat a bad rap as “Gangland” bumped off “Total Eclipse”(written by Harris, Dave Murray, and Burr)
I agree though “Total Eclipse” is the stronger of the two tracks but “Gangland” stood on its own merit. Put it this way folks, when it comes on I don’t push skip!
It is rumored that Bruce had a few cowrites on the album as well but because they were still trying to untangle him from a previous record contract Maiden kept the lid on it. Supposedly!
Being Harris’s band though Steve had shaped the album how he wanted to hear it. Invaders and “Children of the Damned” that are the opening two numbers show you how Maiden could operate. The opening number (Invaders) grabs you by the throat while “Children of the Damned” like many of a Maiden song that would follow would start off slowly then build up and then take off like a rocket ship!
But as the years and decades have moved on two classic songs penned both solely by Harris are to this day still staples in the Maiden live show.
The title track “The Number of the Beast” is one of the all-time greats. How about that demonic voice that reads the chapter from the bible that opens the tune? Talk about knowing what’s coming up next right? Once the song picks up steam how about that Dickinson wail before the first verse? Supposedly producer Martin Birch pushed Bruce to the point of frustration that Dickinson became so fed up with the constant repeats that he did the scream out of frustration, and it fit so well that the band decided to keep it. Adrian and Dave whip up another classic display of solos while Steve even hammers down a cool little Bass solo that leads back into Bruce’s vocal!
I Love Gatefold’s Part 2: See pic below.
“Hallowed Be They Name”. What a doozy of a track. Nothing like hearing the bell toll for one walking towards the hangman. One of the most amazing Harris tracks as it blows my mind that at the time he was in his early 20’s and writing songs like this?
Bruce digs deep and comes up with a brilliant vocal that sells Hallowed even more. How about the solo’s that Dave and Adrian crank out? Bolts of brilliance. I love the ending as Bruce sings that ‘Yeah yeah yeah Hallowed Be Thy Name” as the band is blasting off underneath the Air Raid Siren!
What an end of the album-closing classic track!
After this album and the massive Beast on the Road tour that followed. Circus and Hit Parader knew who Iron Maiden was.
I think Music Express in Canada must have been Maiden’s first time being on a cover of a North American magazine.
The Number of the Beast released March 22,1982
Canadian sales of The Numer of the Beast- Triple Platinum
U.S sales of The Number of the Beast- Platinum