Iron Maiden – Maiden Japan Vol. 4 (Tarantura TCDIM-4-1,2)

Maiden Japan Vol. 4 (Tarantura TCDIM-4-1,2)

Sun Plaza Hall Nakano, Tokyo, Japan Sunday May 24, 1981 Afternoon Show 3:00PM

Disc 1 (56:41) SE / opening, The Ides Of March, Wrathchild, Purgatory, Sanctuary, Remember Tomorrow, Another Life, Clive Burr drum solo, Another Life (reprise), band introduction, Genghis Kahn, Killers, Innocent Exile, Twilight Zone, Strange World, Murders In The Rue Morgue, Phantom Of The Opera

Disc 2 (32:40) Iron Maiden, encore cheer, Running Free, encore cheer, Transylvania, Guitar Solo, Drifter, encore cheer, Prowler, SE-Announcement

Iron Maiden released Killers in February 1981 and the reviews were mixed, many voiced their opinion in print that the band was faltering and living on past glories. True that half of the record was older songs that the band had been playing live for some time but the album is noteworthy for much more. It was the first of 10 records produced by Martin Birch, the first record with Adrian Smith and probably the most beloved cover depicting a hatchet wielding Eddie. There were two singles form the record and both charted with reasonable success and the band went on their first world tour with their first ever visit to Japan where the band played five concerts in four days.

This new release from Tarantura in the third released in the Maiden Japan series, but oddly referred to as Vol. 4. The first two releases Vol. 1 Tokyo May 21 and Vol. 2 Nagoya May 23 were released over three years ago so it was a pleasant surprise to see this title announced as there is no other existing recording of this show in trading circulation and as with the previous two releases are sourced from Mr Peach.

The recording is similar to the two previous releases, very good and atmospheric but does has some fault, in his detailed review of the Ozzy title Paranoid in Nagoya 1982 (Tarantura TCDOZ – 2 – 1,2) Hager summarizes that the distortion present was caused by drummer Tommy Aldrige’s mounted toms. The distortion found on this Iron Maiden recording seem to be caused by the same phenomena as the other instruments and vocals are very clear and during the drum solo the same distortion is present but a phenomenal performance easily make up for its short comings.

Iron Maiden circa 1981 were a machine and the addition of Adrian Smith made the band far tighter than ever before and within a year with a change in lead singers the majority of the older material would be dropped with a couple songs would never be played again. The recording picks up as the last strains of UFO’s Doctor Doctor is faded from the venue PA only to give way to the bands intro music The Ides Of March, the audience clap and cheer in anticipation of the bands arrival on stage. The band rip into Wrathchild and one can surmise that the versions of the song from this era are definite, the tandem of Murray and Smith lay fiery leads effortlessly.

I have always loved the Japanese versions since I first heard it via the Maiden Japan EP in the early 80’s. A brief “good evening” then “good afternoon” from Paul is all that is needed as the band goes right into Purgatory played at break neck speed, a personal favorite from the Killers record is a song based on an older song never fully realized called Floating. The songs ends with a feedback and Paul uses an old David Coverdale intro with “A bit of rock n roll for you” leading into Sanctuary, the band and a slight distortion pushed Paul’s vocals slightly band and there is some feedback issues from what sounds like an amplifiers present although the band carry, there is no stopping now.

Paul tells the audience that it is there last day in Japan amid the faulty amp and settle things down (or try) with an intense version of Remember Tomorrow. Probably my favorite of the early catalog the live versions are simply amazing with the dream like lyrics and the intense soloing the song along with Phantom were the seeds that grew into the bands musical direction of the next 20 plus years.

Another Life features a Clive Burr drum solo and some great melodic Dave Murray solos, during the drum solo the distortion is clearly evident but does not distract to much from being able to enjoy it. Clive played with a great feel that proved Maiden that intensive back bone that the older material desperately needed.

The next block of songs are all new ones, the brilliant Genghis Kahn and the title track Killers are followed by the Purplish Innocent Exile that is the closest Maiden would every get to funk. Twilight Zone was the first single from the record and whose cover we actually get to see Charlotte (the Harlot).

“A song from the first Iron Maiden album” is Paul’s introduction to Strange World, the song is like a slow blues done by Maiden and Paul always gets to settle down and really sing and his vocals provide the melancholy vibe. Probably my favorite transition of songs is how the gentle outro of Strange World gives way to the eerie notes of Murders In The Rue Morgue. Back when Maiden played the OZZFest in 2005 and were playing the oldies set, I was fortunate to see them play this much loved song. The epic Phantom Of The Opera finishes the first disc, as with the early 80-81 versions played at a tempo most bands like Slayer and Megadeth could only hope to one day perfect. Again one of Paul’s best vocal efforts the song is like being chased blind through a maze of corridors, the audience is totally behind the band, the clap in time during the faster parts, Dave Murray again is playing like he is possessed the leads just low from his finger tips with ease.

Paul gets the crowd to scream with him that leads into a frenzied take on the signature Iron Maiden, the crowd are totally entranced and are behind the band and it sounds as if they are chanting the lyrics giving the song a vast feel. The crowd demands more, the clap and chant and the band delivers Running Free, probably the simplest song ins the bands catalogue live it delivers every time. The distortion is very prevalent during Transylvania and sounds like the bass is adding to the mix and the recording loses some clarity but instantly clears up as Dave Murray takes center stage for his solo.

The hybrid of KK Downing and Michael Schenker his playing has blown me away since the first time I saw the band live and figured out the long blond hair guy is the one playing those leads. The crowd is crazed by this time and frantically clap as the band goes into Drifter, although the studio version has just been released via Killers it has been a crowd pleaser for well over a year by now. I love the Police (the band that is) inspired sing along of Yo…yo yo yo with the crowd doing their best Sting impressions, great stuff. The band deliver the final blow in the form of Prowler, again its the melodic solos from Dave that are just as important as Paul’s vocals and is quintessential early Maiden at its best. A superbly played concert from the vaults and with this recording the entire five concert tour is available from either soundboard or audience sources.

All this comes packaged in a glossy gatefold sleeve with wonderful full color pictures of the band, along with pics of the master tapes, ticket stub and magazine advertisement for the Killers record. There is also an insert, a green card with Iron Maiden and some writing on the front and a map on the back. It is great to see Tarantura continue their Maiden series, hopefully the other two dates from the tour from the Peach archives will surface as well as tours from the years to follow. UP THE IRONS 1

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