Iron Maiden – Definitive Nijmegen 1981 (Zodiac 400)

Definitive Nijmegen 1981 (Zodiac 400)

De Vereeniging, Nijmegen, Holland – April 28, 1981

(79:51) The Ides Of March, Wrathchild, Purgatory, Sanctuary, Remember Tomorrow, Another Life, Band Introductions, Genghis Khan, Killers, Innocent Exile, Murders In The Rue Morgue, Twilight Zone, Phantom Of The Opera, Iron Maiden, Running Free, Transylvania, Guitar Solo, Drifter, Prowler

I bought two Iron Maiden bootlegs back in the early 90s at a record convention, they were both on the Metal Memory label and were both from 1981. Killing Time featured an incomplete soundboard recording from Nijmegen, Holland and Another Life featured the Tokyo 1981 soundboard. Both of these CDs became the basis for my Iron Maiden collection of unofficial recordings. The Another Life concert was upgraded over the years when a more complete version of the soundboard surfaced as well as a great audience tape done by the Master of live recording in the Far East, Mr. Peach. Last year the complete recording from Nijmegen finally surfaced, much to the delight of collectors, and has been pressed on both vinyl and compact disc editions.

Soundboard recordings usually take president when bootleggers are involved, early versions of the Nijmegen recording are the aforementioned Killing Time (Metal Memory MM90009) and the deluxe packaged Phantom Of The Opera (Men At Work WORK 5526/2) with its elaborate fold out cover. This incomplete version was also pressed on vinyl as A Quiet Night In Holland (The Swingin’ Pig TSP 500/11/1) and A Quiet Night In (Smokin’ SMCD973). The first appearance of the complete recording was, I believe, the vinyl title The Axe Falls On Holland (Metal Mania MMR 06) followed by both Definitive Nijmegen 1981 (Zodiac 400) and Gonna Get You (Drifter Records DR008).

Always a pleasure to pull out Killing Time, this title has held up well over the past thirty years, it was such a thrill to hear a live version of Genghis Khan, this is a title that gets a couple listens during the year. When I compare the sound, this new version by Zodiac is the clear winner. The Metal Memory is louder and has more distortion and hiss, while Zodiac is just a tad lower in volume, its sound is clean and relatively distortion free. It also has a wonderful range of frequencies and sounds a bit closer to the correct pitch as well. What was even more interesting is that the incomplete version of the tape featured a track list that had been moved around a bit, this new title features the concert in the order on which it was played. While I could never part with Killing Time, this new Zodiac title will certainly take its place in the CD player. Now we have gotten sound quality out of the way, and the volume of my listening party is sufficiently been raised, we can now fully enjoy this concert in all its glory.

The intro of Ides Of March sounds like it was on a separate channel from the band and is being picked up by the stage and audience microphones as it is considerably lower in volume, we do get a bit of Steve Harris doing a couple bass checks and then breaks into the classic opening bass riff of Wrathchild. The mix of the recording does move around a bit but is not distracting at all, the instruments and vocals are all well defined in the mix, Steve’s bass is very clear in the mix and we can hear his incredible playing easily. Paul acknowledges the concert is being recorded and is in good voice on this evening, he handles the fast lyrical delivery of Purgatory with ease, great version of the song, it has all the classic Maiden twists and turns. The band is a month away from their first Japanese tour, Paul has his classic “we’re gonna slide down a little bit” intro to the incredible Remember Tomorrow. This is one of the early Paul classics, always loved his vocals on this song, and the guitar solos from both Adrian and Dave are incredible.

Another Life features an incredible Clive Burr drum solo, you can hear parts of a phasing effect he used during part of the solo, the audience is totally into it, cheering him on by chanting loudly. The song is also known for Dave Murray’s lead lines, so melodic it’s no wonder his nickname was “The Blond Bomber”. Like I stated before, Genghis Khan live is a feast for the ears, it’s great to focus on both Steve and Clive and their playing is superb, so tight almost like Heavy Metal Jazz! The 1981 headline concerts featured the entire Killers LP save for Prodigal Son so we get all the tasty slabs of molten Maiden Metal like Innocent Exile, Twilight Zone and the blistering Murders In The Rue Morgue. Another absolute highlight of this concert is the last encore song Prowler, a song sadly missing on the Tokyo soundboard and wasn’t played in Milwaukee so it’s always great to have a live version in such excellent quality.

The packaging is full color inserts with both posed and live shots of the classic Killers era line up, picture discs and numbered sticker, all included. The past couple years have seen two massive upgrades to the Killers tour offering, the complete Beat Club video recording and this Nijmegen, Holland complete tape. When put together with the Tokyo soundboard and Milwaukee broadcast it gives fans an excellent overview of Iron Maiden circa 1981….Up The Irons!

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