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Iron Maiden: No Prayer For The Dying (1990)

I know my Maiden 1980-1988 album series just ended. (by the way thanks for reading and commenting.) 

“Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” I thought would be the last Maiden review but a few weeks back my daughter Kylee came into town and for my Bday and gifted me with “No Prayer For The Dying” on VINYL!

So I thought “What the Hell, what’s one more Maiden review after posting eight in a row!”

Bring This Blogger to the Slaughter!

As Maiden headed into the 90s some changes were going on…

1-  Guitarist Adrian Smith decided to leave Maiden after 9 years.

2- After the synth-driven sounds of 1986’s “Somewhere In Time” and 88’s “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son”, Steve Harris and crew ditch that style and begin the 90s as a stripped-down Metal Act.

3- Once Maiden began the No Prayer Tour the stage show was stripped back as well. No extravagant staging as Maiden was going back to the basics. 

4- No Prayer For The Dying was the first album since 1983’s “Piece of  Mind” that I did not purchase on its release date which was October 1st, 1990. The reason being as Tbone and myself were headed to Winnipeg a few days later (Oct 5th) I knew there would be a CD shopping spree so I needed to purchase something so I figured I would buy NPFTD in a big city. Hell, even Tbone bought it!

“No Prayer For The Dying” came out at a time when the musical landscape was about to change the following year. 

Upon my first listen to “No Prayer For The Dying” back then I liked it but with Steve Harris and company coming off of the magnificent “Seventh Son” album NPFTD was a step behind.

Course, when Smith went so did a big part of the songwriting.  Having said that though Adrian did have a co-write with Bruce titled “Hooks In You” which you can hear Smith’s style of writing melodic rock riffs taken over by his replacement Janick Gers on guitar.

With Smith gone Bassist Steve Harris and Vocalist Bruce Dickinson composed three great tracks together. The opening tune “Tailgunner,” followed by “Holy Smoke”, and “Run Silent Run Deep”.

Bruce also co-wrote the magnificent “Public Enema Number One” with Guitarist Dave Murray which at certain times just may be my favorite track from this album.

Bruce brought over his solo tune “Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter” from his solo band and had the song Maidenized!

Actually, Murray also cowrote “Fates Warning” with Steve so even Dave was picking up some slack in regards to the songwriting void left by Adrian when he split. 

Boss Man Harris handles the albums title track on his own as well as the album closer “Mother Russia”.

“The Assasin” which leads off Side Two is another Harris solo composition and to be fair the song could have used Bruce’s input in the songwriting part of this tune. By that I mean Bruce has a good knack for delivering some catchy choruses and “The Assasin” kind of falls flat and could have used some Air Raid Siren input.

Overall a decent spin of NPFTD which to be honest I have not listened to this album in full in a very long time.

Side One for me has the better tracks whereas Side Two lags a little. 

No-fault to Maiden though as up until this point it was the album/tour/album tour cycle for 10 years and so it is to be expected that the creative wheels may come off a little at some point.

“No Prayer For The Dying” came out in 1990 the music scene would shortly be shifting(we all know what I mean by that) and Maiden though would keep trucking so I guess in a way Harris and company decided to go back to a bare-bones approach in recording and touring for the NPFTD album.

 

 

Iron Maiden/No Prayer For The Dying(1990)

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Maiden 1990 is a different animal than the band that released what I consider their best album ever 1988’s Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son!

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes……

Gone is Guitarist Adrian Smith who already had contributed a ton of Classic Tracks to the Maiden albums of years before. Case in point check out my review of Somewhere In Time as Smith is the MVP of that album in my eye’s. So when he bailed on Maiden I was disappointed but I knew Bassist and Maiden Creator Steve Harris would carry on as that’s Maiden’s tendency! Replace and move on!

Gone are the elaborate stage shows that came with each album release in the 80’s. A more stripped back stage with the backdrops and Eddie of course but more Marshall Amps added and yada yada. This did not bug me in the least as it’s the tunes that count right?!

So Harry and Crew recruit Janick Gers (playing guitar at the time in Lead Singers Bruce Dickinson solo band) and keep the Maiden Juggernaut heading into new frontiers. But are we ready for it?

1990 was a great year not only did we get like I mentioned earlier the fantastic Bruce solo album Tattooed Millionaire but along with it a new Maiden album as well.

October 1st 1990 is when No Prayer was released and SHOCKER I was not a first day buyer of it! I had purchased Peace OF Mind/Powerslave/Live After Death/Somewhere In Time and 7th Son all on their release dates.  My first day Maiden purchase streak ended at 5!

Reason you ask? Simple a little less than a week later myself and Tbone were gonna be in Winnipeg going to see ZZ Top and per our protocol on road trips was to load up on discs! Tbone especially as he would drop coin on say 20-25 discs on a given road trip! So with this in mind I thought i would hold out and at least purchase 1 for myself! Haha….

Still recall unwrapping the plastic from No Prayer in out hotel room in the Peg and scanning the lyrics/pics as Maiden always delivered in the cd department!

Course when I got back to Tbay the first order was to listen to No Prayer….

The Verdict! Good not Great. Not a let down either but a band that I had thought was maybe trying to ditch a bit of the past(80’s) and move into the 90’s with a new kinda look and new Metal like sound.

Maiden Men …

Bruce Dickinson – lead vocals
Dave Murray – guitar
Janick Gers – guitar
Steve Harris – bass guitar
Nicko McBrain – drums

No Prayer Maiden Mix…

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “Tailgunner” Steve Harris, Bruce Dickinson 4:13
2. “Holy Smoke” Harris, Dickinson 3:47
3. “No Prayer for the Dying” Harris 4:22
4. “Public Enema Number One” Dave Murray, Dickinson 4:03
5. “Fates Warning” Murray, Harris 4:09
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “The Assassin” Harris 4:16
2. “Run Silent Run Deep” Harris, Dickinson 4:34
3. “Hooks in You” Dickinson, Adrian Smith 4:06
4. “Bring Your Daughter… to the Slaughter” Dickinson 4:42
5. “Mother Russia” Harris 5:30
Total length: 43:42

Couple of things you may notice right away about the track listings! Steve and Bruce team up on three tracks. Dave Murray even steps up with 2 contributions as ex member Smith is featured in a co write with Bruce. Second of all the album clocks in at 43 minutes. Not only are Maiden cleaning house but there also doing away with the Epic Long Tune’s. All tracks are under 5 minutes except for album closer Mother Russia.

Let’s Do This…

Tailgunner has Maiden beginning studio album Number 8 with Harris and Nicko along with the guitars of Janick and Davey usher in Tailgunner! Tailgunner what a great name for a late night establishment don’t you think? I could picture it now with Tbone dialing his phone circa 1990 and a voice on the other end answering with a “Good Evening Welcome To Tailgunners How can I Direct Your call?” hahaha…oh wait this isn’t it a Dance Club? Gah! Sorry lost my trail of thought there! Maidens Tailgunner  is  a song about World War 2 Pilots…..Bruce as always delivers a great vocal “Nail That Fokker Kill That Son” ahh clever writing fella’s! It doesn’t take long to realize that Maiden to  my ears is making a Street Sounding Album. The production by Martin Birch is dry sounding which kinda suits the vibe of the album.

Second song Holy Smoke is bona fide classic in my humble opinion! Loved it in 1990 and still love it 27 years later! This song takes charge and at the time with all the corrupt TV Preachers goings on Steve and Bruce nail out a Gem writing about it. Super Duper catchy chorus! Super Duper Metal Slop Rock Solo from New Boy Janick and Wow Man! Gem! Posted the video to this song and look at those Brits! They are a funny bunch! Great video!

The title track No Prayer For The Dying  almost sounds like at some spots  like a Maiden Jig! A little slower tempo but like all Harris written tunes it’s gonna speed up and go into overdrive and lift off at which it does. Real cool leads from both Davey and Janick as they just do what they do.

Whoah! Another Gem in the form of Public Enema Number One. Janick and Dave take charge with those cool dual leads right out of the gate with Steve and Nicko taking charge in the rhythm department! Bruce as he always does take charge in his vocal delivery and man oh man another Great Track!  Watch the live video! Actually I’m pasting the last verse in the tune which features my favourite paragraph of Bruce written lyrics on this album…

A million network slaves
In an advertising new age
I don’t need a crystal ball to sell ya
Your children have more brains
Than your drug infested remains
California dreaming as the Earth dies screaming

Woo-Hooooo!

Fates Warning is a straight forward no frill’s Metal Track. It’s a decent enough one for sure and it was interesting to revisit this one as on any other Metal Release at the time this would have been a great song but with this being Maiden they set they set the Bar High.  Pretty good actually….WTF am I going on about?

The Assassin builds and builds with Harry and Nicko doing their quick snare and bass riffs. One of those tracks which is ok not great. The Verses build and build and the chorus is for me a little on the lacklustre side.

Run Silent Run Deep has Bruce singing in that sinister style vocal and man oh man after the last two previous songs kinda lagging things pick up with this track. Love the pace of it. Great chorus as well and love the guitar work and bass on this tune. Nicko man plays like only Nicko does and that’s awesome! Love how the tune ends with just Bruce and bit of guitar!

Speaking of Nicko you want Cowbell? Hooks In You leads off with a slick riff with added cowbell. Pretty good track nothing spectacular but still a decent round of Metal. Maiden man set and drank the bar high n dry.

Ok. Bruce is the only singer in the world who could sing the chorus to Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter and making it oh so catchy. Case in point when this album was first out I found myself singing it at work in a moment of pure unconsciousness except I wasn’t! Some one near by said “Pardon me” and snapped me back into reality and I mumbled away …. Great track actually and as an added bonus a real cool guitar solo! Bruce as always delivers in spades.

Mother Russia is your end of the album Harris concept piece as it’s another one of those epic pieces but for me I dunno I kinda missed the Metal Boat on this one. The playing/singing is all there of course but I just don’t get this one at all.

Maiden enter the 90’s with more of a street vibe and it’s a pretty decent album with some standout tracks and some not so standout tracks. Something has to give after a while really. I mean 8 studio albums over 10 years including tours it’s impressive to say the least.

So although Harry & Crew did not hit one totally out of the park No Prayer is still a decent album with a real couple of good standout tracks!