Classic Albums – Iron Maiden’s The Number of The Beast

“Woe to you, oh Earth and sea, for the Devil sends the beast with wrath because he knows that time is short. Let him who hath understanding reckon the number of the beast, for it is a human number. It’s number is six hundred and sixety six…”

When I was in sixth grade, my grandma bought me three posters from a local thrift store. One was of Freddy Kreuger. One was a tour poster for Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All tour. The third was Iron Maiden’s “The Trooper” poster. I had no idea who Iron Maiden was, but with a poster like that, they had to be cool — almost as cool as my grandma.

Like the other DVD’s in the Classic Albums series, Iron Maiden: The Number of the Beast takes a look at the behind the scenes of Maiden’s seminal album. Through interviews with rock journalists, producer Martin Birch, and the band members themselves, the people responsible for creating the breakthrough album. As Bruce Dickensen explains in his interview, this was the album that separated Iron Maiden from all the other NWOBHM bands on the scene.

The documentary goes through the album song by song and allows the band members to tell the stories behind the songs. Trivia nuts such as myself will get a kick out of the back stories of such songs as “The Prisoner”, “Number of the Beast” and “Run to the Hills”.

While the DVD does contain some video and concert footage, the meat of the disc lies within the interviews. During one story on the disc, it is revealed that the band was paid nothing to record the album. In fact, at the exact moment the band found out their album had hit the charts, they were pushing their broken down tour bus down the road. There are also a lot of great stories about the backlash the band encounted from religious groups after The Number of the Beast was released.

Like the other Classic Albums DVD’s I’ve seen (Metallica’s self-titled album and Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon), Iron Maiden’s also contains samples from the original master tapes. Throughout different segments, you’ll get to hear various drum tracks, guitar solos and vocal performances separated out from the rest of the music.

Although the documentary is less than an hour long, it’s jammed full of facts and information that any Maiden fan or simply any fan of that era will enjoy. The DVD contains another 30 minutes of extras, including more interview segments, more Maiden footage, and a couple of short takes of Adrian Smith playing riffs from “The Number of the Beast” and “Children of the Damned”.

If you like “Behind the Music” specials and/or care anything at all about Iron Maiden, this DVD is for you. The Classic Albums series is a must have for fans.

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