Top-10 Cover songs performed by Iron Maiden
Alright, not too long ago I devoted a whole blog to cover songs which other bands had made based off the songs of Iron Maiden. Now, let’s flip the table around and talk about covers which Maiden has made of other band’s and performers’ songs.
If you’re not very familiar with most of them, don’t feel bad. Iron Maiden has always avoided actually putting any of the cover songs on their albums (save for one) and has also opted to release most of them as B-sides of their singles over the years. Suffice to say, even the most hardcore Maiden fans weren’t made aware of this content until the release of the Best of the B-Sides a few years ago.
At any rate, here are my Top-10 favourites…
10. Women in Uniform by The Skyhooks
I feel really, really guilty about including this one since it’s probably the single most frowned upon endeavours from the band. For their very first official music video (and the only one from the Paul DiAnno era), the band recorded a tongue-in-cheek cover of Australian rock group Sky Hook’s misogynistic song which really is just a glorified listing of various fetishes. So why do I like it? Well, terrible song or not, Paul DiAnno just performs it incredibly well.
This is also one of the rarities off this list as the song was actually released as a stand-alone single and is therefore a rather notorious addition to the short-lived DiAnno period. The cover is even a continuation on the mini story-arc that Maiden’s early cover artwork represented (after Eddie killed Margaret Thatcher on the cover Sanctuary, she comes back for revenge).
So yes, I’m including this one as a guilty pleasure entry and I’m not a big fan of the original either, but as one of Iron Maiden’s more recognised covers, I would have done it an injustice for not including it.
9. Rainbow’s Gold by Beckett
Here’s one from the Powerslave era and this one really just makes the list for sheer musicianship. It sounds excellent and has a great vibe. The lyrics or vocals aren’t anything too special but I can’t stop listening to this once it starts off. It also has a nice lighter touch in places with the guitar harmonies we rarely see from Maiden.
The original really fades by comparison, but to be fair, Maiden had 10 years of audio equipment development on their side.
8. I can’t see my feelings by Budgie
This is another really simple cover but I really love the Fear of the Dark sound on this one and I think Bruce’s vocals add some much-needed punch to what was originally very mellow song. Again, not much to say about this but I can’t stop listening to it once it starts rolling. And again, it’s a little more chill than your normal Maiden song which is always nice to hear.
7. Massacre by Thin Lizzy
Jesus! If this isn’t a missed opportunity I don’t know what is, but I really would have loved for Maiden to have covered even more of Thin Lizzy’s songs. Not that Massacre isn’t an amazing song, because it’s the bee’s knees, but I can imagine so many more opportunities. At any rate, the Seventh Son sound really fits the dark and theatrical song. If only Phil Lynott would have lived long enough to duet with Bruce on this.
It’s short, simple, clean, dramatic and works really well. All around, excellent.
6. Juanita by Marshall Fury
Okay, you’ll have to take my word on this one, since Marshall Fury has never actually ever recorded a version of Juanita. Juanita belongs into what I call the gold mine of Maiden B-Sides which are the singles off Somewhere in Time. During a period when Maiden were collaborating with Adrian Smith’s ex-bandmates from Urchin as well as several other British Groups, Maiden really reached out and produced a number of high quality songs which very few people have heard such as Reach Out, the band’s only song where Adrian Smith sings lead.
Juanita is admittedly the least of these songs but even it is absolutely amazing with a great drive. It would totally deserve to be on the album itself. It just barely misses the Top-5… just barely.
5. Bring Your Daughter to the Slaughter by Bruce Dickinson
I flip-flop between whether or not I love or hate this song (the same goes for the album it’s on). Yes, this song is indeed a cover even though Bruce Dickinson originally wrote the song. What makes Bring Your Daughter special is that it’s also the band’s only chart-topping single (painful to consider after The Trooper, Aces High, 2 Minutes to Midnight and Wasted Years, never mind half the songs from Seventh Son).
Still there is a delightful cheese factor and I can get into the song when I’m in a good mood.
For comparison’s sake, here is also the original. They did a lot of more audio-trickery on it so the Maiden version is a slightly cleaner version. The song was originally created for Nightmare on Elm Street 5 and planned to be released on Dickinson’s first solo record, Tattooed Millionaire, but didn’t make the cut and so the Maiden version was created.
Both versions are good in their right though so I’m not saying either is superior.
4. Cross-Eyed Mary by Jethro Tull
I haven’t to date heard a Jethro Tull cover I haven’t liked and Iron Maiden really took Cross-Eyed Mary for their own. A Piece of Mind era track, Bruce maybe struggles a bit on his volume control but it adds a nice awkward energy to this grimy song. And it sounds pretty awesome. This is still pre synth metal era for Maiden so the simpler sound fits the song as well. In certain ways I even prefer it against the original. Now, if only Maiden would cover Aqualung…
3. My Generation by The Who
In a similar way the Somewhere in Time B-Sides are a gold mine of undiscovered Maiden gems, The X-Factor era B-Sides are a sad look at what could have been. Blaze Bayley, the most unnecessarily hated Metal frontman in history, had a huge problem for being an excellent singer who just couldn’t cut it with the Bruce era Maiden material. Yet, as this high octane and powerful Who cover proves, Blaze could sing with the best of them. This version is on par with the original and I even prefer it slightly.
As always, I highly recommend checking out the Blaze material.
2. That Girl by FM
Here we come to what is possibly the crown jewel of the gold mine of Maiden B-Sides. Maiden’s collaboration with British rock group FM produced a very interesting cover of their hit single That Girl. Just listening to it doesn’t really do it justice because Maiden changed the melody and even tweaked the lyrics quite a bit. It’s almost more of a reprise or a companion piece to the original. An excellent take on the song, but to get the full experience, you really need to hear the original…
As you can hear, the original was a far more traditional rock out song but it’s interesting how well it and the Maiden version compliment each other. And I love this cheesy 80s shit, so you knew it was gonna be high.
Why only number-2 then… well, as much as I’m embarrassed to admit it, I actually like the straight-forward original more – but it took me to listen to the Maiden version to even realise it existed. In this case, I actually recommend to listen to more of FM’s original material (including their interesting take on Shot in the Dark).
1. Doctor, Doctor by UFO
Yes, the Blaze Bayley version of Doctor, Doctor is my favourite Maiden cover song but more over, Maiden did their usual tweaking and reworking to make the song perfect for Blaze. And in fact, compared to the quite repetitive and steady original, the Maiden version blows the balls off it.
Too bad Maiden couldn’t do the same for their own songs to make them perfect for Blaze. This song rocks either way but the drive in the Maiden version is just amazing…