My Top-10 Covers of Iron Maiden songs
As everyone with any familiarity with a particular section of my blog should know, I’m a huge fan of Iron Maiden. I’m also a huge fan of cover songs and, so in this list, I’ll be bringing you 10 excellent cover versions of the band’s songs.
The reason for the specific title up there is because Iron Maiden has itself covered music by other artists and that’s maybe another Top-10 I’ll have to visit some other day.
But for now, let’s get this list going…
10. Prowler by Paul Di’Anno
There are going to be a couple of covers by ex-Iron Maiden members and here’s the first one. Paul Di’Anno, the vocalist from Maiden’s first two albums, has recorded a few covers of his old Maiden material later on. As much as I absolutely adore the original 1980 album, the sound mix on it is quite terrible thanks to the ham-fisted efforts of producer Will Mallone. Therefore, this re-recording of the intro track from Di’Anno sounds absolutely amazing.
Prowler is one of the more under-rated and awesome tracks from Maiden’s early years. Di’Anno really lets it wail on this recording which I’ll hazard is from his late 1980s Solo Albums. It’s a bit sad his live performances have gotten so bad in recent years but at one point, Di’Anno was one of the best vocalists in the business.
The reason it’s not higher is that despite its better mix, it sounds too much like the original which makes it harder to distinguish from the original track.
9. The Number of the Beast by Zwan
Here’s a more unconventional cover. The Number of the Beast has really grown on me over the years and now-a-days it probably ranks higher for me off its title album than even Children of the Damned, 22 Acacia Avenue or Hallowed by thy Name. Zwan’s extremely laid back take on the song may not be to everyone’s liking and even I think the song maybe loses something in the effort. However, it’s just such a contrasting take on this normally high-octane number that it ends up working really well.
However, I do prefer the original which is why it’s this low.
8. Where Eagles Dare by Fozzy
Chris Jericho’s outfit, Fozzy, has done many a cover and many people will probably know that Chris has also lent his vocals to a cover of The Evil That Men Do. Although Jericho’s Evil cover is decent, I feel his band’s original take on one of Piece of Mind‘s best tracks actually works way better. I feel Jericho’s vocals just fit this very earnest cover of the song and makes it work well.
The cover maybe doesn’t go all out, but I quite enjoy the honest take and the lack of cheesy machine gun sound-effects in the background. Musically though, it’s perhaps not all that inventive which is why it’s also on the bottom-half of the list.
7. Running Free by Iron Savior
I have a really mixed relationship with the band Iron Savior. I think when they cover other bands’ songs and collaborate with them (such as with Kai Hansen’s Gamma Ray) they’re fantastic, but I’ve never been wowed by their original material.
The reason I love Iron Savior’s covers is because they bring their own manly energy to everything they touch. In contrast to Zwan’s Beast cover from earlier, Iron Savior takes one of the most laid-back rock numbers from the original 1980 album by Iron Maiden and gives it a great drive and energy. And it sounds fucking amazing.
Same as with Zwan’s Beast cover, I do think the song loses something due to the contrasting take, but at the same time, Savior’s cover works a little better for me.
6. Strange World by Mägo de Oz
Strange World is another highly under-appreciated song off the original 1980 Iron Maiden album. In its case, the reason why it’s so often neglected isn’t much of a mystery. It’s a much slower song with bizarre guitar-melodies more indicative of 1970s psychedelic rock than the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) this era of Maiden is associated with. It’s still an incredibly good song and, to date, Spanish group Mago de Oz seems to be the only one to have bothered to give it the attention it deserves…
… with an epic orchestral rendition with several beautifully played acoustic instruments. It’s quite a bit richer than the original, really making it into a celebration of the song. As wonderful it is though, the singer’s accent kinda gives the cover a slight cheese factor which makes it hard for me to take it seriously. These minor flaws aside, this would have easily made the Top-5.
5. The Clansman by Thomas Zwijsen & Blaze Bayley
Another cover from an ex-Maiden member. In the 1990s, Blaze headed Iron Maiden when Bruce Dickinson left and received a bashing he certainly didn’t deserve. Blaze continues to tour and seems to have a mostly positive attitude towards Iron Maiden. So much so, that in 2012 he teamed up with Thomas “Nylon Maiden” Zwijsen, known for is accurate and excellent acoustic covers of Iron Maiden’s songs and recorded a bunch of new versions of his Maiden material with him.
All of Thomas and Blaze’s collabs are worth listening, thanks to Blaze’s voice being as mighty as ever, but his Clansman cover (from Virtual-XI) being my personal favourite. A highly under-appreciated song from an unfairly flogged album (even though Dickinson’s performed the song a fair amount of times as well). I also recommend giving a listen to Blaze and Thomas’s cover of one of my favourite songs off The X-Factor.
I’m having Blaze only at number-5 because it would feel unfair to put an ex-Maiden member higher.
4. Aces High by Jeff Scott Soto et al.
Jeff Scott Soto is another vocalist who can make anything sound awesome. So I can’t imagine anyone better to cover one of Maiden’s most vocally demanding anthems, Aces High. Powerslave‘s iconic opening number.
You can jump right ahead to the big finish if you like but this is easily the best cover of this song I’ve heard from The Numbers from the Beast tribute album (which featured collections of various metal players from various bands).
The cover is very straight-forward though, so I won’t put it higher but Soto alone makes it worth the listen.
3. Wasted Years by Thunderstone
With all due respect to Dee Snider who also covered this song on The Numbers tribute, his cover doesn’t hold a candle to the power and honesty of Finnish power metal Thunderstone. My tied favourite off my favourite Maiden album alongside half the album, this is a song which despite its simplicity is hard to do justice to.
Maybe its the naturally melancholy of Finnish musicians that just gives this very melancholy song cover its power.
This song could have easily been number-1, but even with its wonderful honest take, it’s still a very traditional cover. All the top-3 picks could have topped the list and I’ll rank Thunderstone here as a winner rather than as a loser.
2. Fear of the Dark by DJ Yahel feat. Tammy
Probably the single most controversial Maiden cover I’ve ever come across but there is no denying that DJ Yahel really succeeded where countless metal bands who’ve attempted to cover this song have failed. Fear of the Dark is a wonderful song from Iron Maiden with both a great melody and excellently written lyrics. However, so many metal bands ruin one or the other with too much distortion on guitars or with singers who rather growl than actually… you know, sing.
In this, vocalist Tammy’s silky voice just makes me happy. Yes, the cover could be heavier and I feel the full-length mix of this song is a little excessive. The short form of Yahel’s cover however is excellent and never over-stays its welcome with me.
Yes, I was tempted to put this as number-1 as well. In the end, I felt there was one cover that perhaps, more than any other, deserved the top-spot.
1. The Trooper by Lemmy Kilmister et al.
My number-1 favourite Iron Maiden song performed by possibly the most legendary metal frontman in history. God bless his drug-addled soul, for the late Lemmy Kilmister turns this song more awesome than you could imagine.