Mar 11

IRON MAIDEN – “Bring Your Daughter… To The Slaughter”

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#656, 5th January 1991

Name acts didn’t put out singles in January. Whether this wisdom was cause or effect of the month’s traditionally low record sales I’m not sure. But the start of the year was a time for rewarding the stoicism of singles that had hung around unfestively through December and hit the top as the tinsel tide receded. Either that, or it was a moment for complete flukes. What Iron Maiden realised was that flukes could be engineered: a canny Christmas Eve release date and a well-informed fanbase could almost guarantee a number one. Within a few years – helped by first-week discounting, alternate CDs, and all the other tricks in the 90s chart-manipulator’s bag – this would become the norm every week of every month. In 1991, it was still a delightful shock.

Or at least that’s how I remember it. Looking at the list of Maiden hits, though, it seems obvious that their audience had firmed up while the rest of pop weakened – this was their sixth top ten single in three years, well-marketed for sure but not really a freak occurrence. Of course it suited the band to play to the gallery a bit – framing this triumph not as a just reward after a string of hits, but as a cheeky goblin raid on pop propriety. Fittingly the song is the band at their most pantomime, from that comic ellipsis on down. Bruce Dickinson hams his verses up with hoarse, cackling relish before launching into that villainous flourish of a chorus, and the rest of the group attack the song with similar gusto. If anything, they’re enjoying themselves a little too much, with all the soloing and menacing build-ups stretching the track a tiny bit thin.

But perhaps I’m only judging this from a pop perspective. I have no ear for metal at all – of the major styles of pop music it’s the one I feel least affinity with. This isn’t dislike exactly – I like a bunch of metal tracks, though perhaps not often for their metallic elements. But I’ve never learned to discriminate, to get a handle on what makes one solo good and another bad, puts one group in the pantheon and another in the bargain bin, or marks the viciously contested boundaries between metal and everything else. So I’m at a loss to assess “Bring Your Daughter” on any terms other than an aggressive, theatrical rock track with a joyful heart beating beneath its Freddy gloves and zombified flesh. And as one of those, it works really rather well.



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  1. 61
    23 Daves on 3 Mar 2011 #

    For me as well, I think there was a thrill to be had out of the incredulity this record was greeted with when it got to number one. Even at this point, a straightforward rock number one was a rare thing indeed – a Metal number one seemed impossible, and led people to suspect that there was some kind of HM invasion on the horizon.

    Of course, all it really proved was that if you get enough people to stamp their feet together at the same time, you can create a noticeable enough wave during an otherwise calm and quiet period. Cue a lot of light bulbs going on above a lot of music industry executive’s heads.

  2. 62
    unlogged mog on 3 Mar 2011 #

    I think the accusation that Iron Maiden are posh, in a post-Clash universe, is pretty weak. They’re clearly middle class enough to afford guitar amps but then that goes for basically any band with a six-string element, innit.

  3. 63
    Conrad on 3 Mar 2011 #

    Keane are posher.

    I think there’s more likely to be a correlation between dungeons and dragons playing and IM (not HM), then any class-related connection. So, predominantly male then…

  4. 64
    Tom on 3 Mar 2011 #

    I am pretty sure only one of my public school D&D group liked Iron Maiden. Perhaps he will post to this thread!

    The shyest person I ever knew (not in said D&D group) didn’t talk much about music but he would express a deep public love for only two bands. One was Iron Maiden. The other were the Pet Shop Boys. Not a combination I’ve come across much since.

  5. 65
    Tommy Mack on 3 Mar 2011 #

    Both Maiden and The Clash were essentially working class bands with posh frontment, weren’t they? (Classic British class divide – the workers and the leaders!) I seem to remember (original IM singer) Paul Di’ano talking in his autobiog. The Beast about a fairly rough shared East End upbringing among the original members of Maiden.

    Just listened to …Slaughter. Everyone’s right, not one of their best but quite fun nonetheless. As a kid, I would look at the imagery on Maiden’s album sleeves and barely dare to imagine the heaviosity that the records would contain. It was only years later I was relieved/dissapointed to hear the relatively pop reality.

    I can scarsely begin to imagine how crap a movie Nightmare On Elm Street 5 must be…

  6. 66

    BD’s personal class background isn’t posh, even if he did go to Oundle (which is posh, obviously, and also old — even if it isn’t one of the Great Nine). His dad seems to be working class made good (a ex-army mechanic n a small mining town who switched very successfully to selling property). Research = wikipedia, so pinch of salt etc. Joe S’s dad was a diplomat.

  7. 67

    Further important research — into Samson, the band BD first sang for — has turned up the time-honoured phrase “now with Dickinson handling vocal duties”, which caused me to cheer out loud.

  8. 68
    Erithian on 3 Mar 2011 #

    There’s a great quote about Joe S’s dad, which I’ll hold onto for now, it won’t be long before we can use it!

    This track is more remarkable as a case history in getting to number one than as a record in itself, certainly short of their best. But its entry at number one in what is traditionally the most static chart of the year was astounding. (Point of order though – in terms of the date the chart was announced, isn’t this the last number one of 1990 rather than the first of 1991?!)

    IM add greatly to the gaiety of the nation, not just through Eddie but due to the renaissance-man activities of their frontman. When working at SNCF I had a (jaw-droppingly beautiful) colleague who was a keen fencer and had fought Dickinson a time or two, and spoke highly of him (lucky sod – hello Christine if you ever read this!) – he wasn’t too far short of Olympic standard by all accounts.

    Then there’s the flying – the totally unique situation where a band’s fans travel to gigs on charter flights piloted by the singer. There’s a nice story about Dickinson flying into Belgrade and asking air traffic control for permission to land, only to be told “I’ll only let you land if you promise to play “Wrathchild” tonight”. All in all, the band is probably more interesting than its music…

  9. 69
    Mark M on 3 Mar 2011 #

    As various people have said, Iron Maiden – like a number of other hard rock/metal bands* – were simply terrific at branding. I can conjure up their visual imagery without a second’s hesitation, whereas I could probably only sing you brief snatches of the choruses of Run To The Hills and Number Of The Beast…

    IM were another band who were massive in Mexico, but then I’m sure they were big all over the rock-loving world. Not particularly popular in south London, mind.

    *I have memories of idly doodling the Van Halen logo when I was twelve or so, and I certainly wasn’t a fan.

  10. 70
    Erithian on 4 Mar 2011 #

    Still huge in India, apparently.

  11. 71

    Looking idly through the early NWoBHM covers, at branding and such, I have to say that IM’s debut is strikingly different from most of them, largely courtesy Eddie, already present though almost unrecognisably street-scruffy. The logo’s unremarkable, compared to Motörhead’s or even Saxon’s: but this element seems, if not strictly original, certainly far rough-and ready punkier than 70s metal iconography. Eddie’s an icon — and a monster to boot — but he’s much more humanscale, and so is his environment.

  12. 72

    More humanscale than he became, that is, as well as more humanscale than his contemporaries.

  13. 73

    It is — which I had really never noticed before now — much more like a Fall sleeve than a contemporary metal sleeve.

  14. 74
    Tommy Mack on 4 Mar 2011 #

    Paul Di’anno-era Maiden were said at the time to be a mix of punk and metal, which I guess in a way they were. Although I remember Lemmy saying that all the punks liked motorhead till they found out they had long hair and by then it was too late!

  15. 75
    swanstep on 4 Mar 2011 #

    That cover reminds me of Killing Joke’s 2nd album, What’s this for? Was Eddie orginally a vision of post-nuclear armageddon/person projected into the pre- world? BTW, according to wiki: “Lady Gaga calls Maiden her favourite band of all time, and says she used to cover “Run to the Hills” in her live set.”

  16. 77
    Ed on 6 Mar 2011 #

    @64 In my school, too, the D&D crowd and the metal crowd were separate, but definitely allied as outsiders to the sporty / socially successful crowd.

    There was quite a bit of traffic between the two sets, as well, although mostly in a D&D => metal direction. D&D was a very common gateway drug to metal, presumably because of the sword-and-sorcery imagery and the general sense of controlled violence.

    My own particular favourites at the time, Rush, appeared to have based most of their 1970s career on D&D scenarios. That and Ayn Rand, of course, which is fantasy of a different kind.

    @74 Paul Di’Anno had short hair – looked like one of The Stranglers – which seemed very important at the time.

    And now, apparently, he has none at all:


  17. 78
    Kit on 7 Mar 2011 #

    “Joe S’s dad was a diplomat.”

    He was a clerk in the Foreign Office; the “diplomat” tag was – as I understand it – hung on Papa Mellor by jealous girls in the Punk Skoolyard, attempting to discredit the lad Strummer by rounding his lower-middle-class up to a full Posho.

  18. 79

    Maybe so Kit, there was a ton of jealousy and spite around during those times. Still, the Mellor family’s FO postings were primarily abroad, which suggests more than just “clerk” as it’s usually understood. JS himself was born in Ankara, and he and his brother attended this boarding school. Oundle — mentioned above in ref.BD — is an army-brat school, mainly, I believe. Class gets very tangled at these middling levels; schooling is intended to be one of the means of future differentiation; and even when it’s foisted on kids unasked, the differentiation carries on, in positive or negative form.

  19. 80
    MichaelH on 7 Mar 2011 #


    Actually, Maiden were unique for many years in having near universal respect within metal, for having become huge without very much in the way of compromise (I don’t know if this is still true, but I suspect so. You don’t sell out Twickenham stadium without metal fans loving you: I can’t imagine there’s a big casual audience for 13-minute songs about the ancient mariner, and so on). Metal historically has embraced commercial success: it’s never had indie’s suspicion of wealth and fame, and tempting as it is to view Southern Lord’s bands as emblematic of modern metal, that whole scene is very much underground – there are dozens of bands who never feature in the press who are dozens of times more popular than Sunn0))) or Earth.
    I remember an old Metallica interview from the mid 80s in which they were asked if there was any band they would leave Metallica for. After some consideration one of them said the only other group they would consider joining was Maiden.

  20. 81
    MichaelH on 7 Mar 2011 #

    re 74 DiAnno-era Maiden isn’t really a punk-metal hybrid – if you listen to the first two Maiden records you hear that clearly. That’s more the result of the era they became popular, and the fact that DiAnno had short hair and a limited vocal range (which was why they replaced him with Dickinson). The other thing was that they did make their first recordings – The Soundhouse Tapes – independently, which seemed like a very big deal at the time. Musically, though,Steve Harris, metal through and through, was always the main songwriter. And when DiAnno left and formed his own band, it was to play second rate metal.

  21. 82
    Tom on 7 Mar 2011 #

    #80 yeah I (unusually!) did some actual research for this entry, in the form of asking metal fans I knew what the rep of Maiden was, and with maybe one or two exceptions – at the younger end of the metal demographic – they offered maximum respect.

  22. 83
    Mark M on 7 Mar 2011 #

    Re 78/79: I know nothing in particular about the Joe Strummer* case, but all FCO staff sent out from London to embassies and consulates – including admin** – can reasonably be described as ‘diplomats’. I think you’d be surprised by the social composition of the average embassy in the post-war era. While the very top jobs went to Oxbridge types, there were also lots of Third Secretaries etc who hadn’t been to university, and quite a few of those would end their careers as ambassadors in dusty far-off posts. For instance, my dad was in the Warsaw Embassy with the father of the late Tony Banks MP, who had been an engineering fitter and a sergeant major before joining the Foreign Office. Everyone serving abroad, as far as I know, got the schools allowance (which didn’t, however, apply when you were based back in London between foreign posts).

    *My dad, FCO 1959-94, has no memory of Strummer’s dad, which suggests he probably wasn’t a big deal
    **But how about PAs? Hmmm…

  23. 84
    Erithian on 8 Mar 2011 #

    Okay, re #68, since everyone else is piling in with Strummer references, no point in holding on to this: “No Joe, Daddy wasn’t a bankrobber, Daddy was Third Secretary (Commercial) at the British Embassy in Ankara.”

  24. 85
    Ed on 9 Mar 2011 #

    @84 And while we’re on the subject, this feels like the inevitable comeback:


    It’s oblique, but the allusion is surely deliberate, from such rock-literate types. Isn’t it?

  25. 86
    Ed on 9 Mar 2011 #

    Bringing up Rush, incidentally, was really just an excuse to post this, which is my favourite discovery of the week. From the excellent Kung Fu Monkey blog (http://kfmonkey.blogspot.com/)

    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”

  26. 87
    lonepilgrim on 21 Apr 2011 #

    this seems an appropriate to post a link to this rather wonderful Map of Metal:


  27. 90
    thefatgit on 26 May 2011 #

    #86 if you missed Adam Curtis’ doc on BBC2 the other night, then you’ll be pleased to learn that Ayn Rand was ultimately responsible for EVERYTHING THAT HAS HAPPENED EVERYWHERE since Atlas Shrugged was published.

  28. 91

    Shorter Adam Curtis: “The hope of the universe lay in the Red Brain… and the Red Brain was mad!”

  29. 92
    Ed on 28 May 2011 #

    #92 Sadly not living in the UK I’ve not been able to catch it. I have, however, sen the film of ‘Atlas Shrugged Part 1’, which is not so much “so bad it’s good” as “so bad it’s really, really weird.”

    I can see how Curtis might get to the position that she is the girl who really runs the world, given the infatuation that some silly but powerful men have with her crazy ramblings.

    But the striking thing about Rand is how generally unpopular she is The AS film almost did not get made, and had a shoestring budget. Parts 2 and 3 may never happen. It seems the eco-friendly compassionate conservatism of Tolkien, and the more explicitly Christian variant of the same from CS Lewis, are infinitely more appealing to most people than Rand’s Nietzsche-derived libertarianism.

  30. 93
    lonepilgrim on 27 Jun 2011 #

    more metal data here:

  31. 94
    Lifes a Riot with Sully vs. Sully on 19 Dec 2012 #

    Got a turbulent, love-hate relationship with metal, but always quite liked Maiden as an unapologetically OTT, rollicking good fun band… as others have pointed out, just a shame they couldn’t get to number 1 with a more concise, big-bollocked track like The Evil That Men Do. Or something from the Paul Di’Anno days with their very punk sense of humour.

    This mildly politically incorrect statement does have a point though..


  32. 95
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  33. 96
    Patrick Mexico on 13 Sep 2013 #

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  34. 97
    Gareth Parker on 29 Apr 2021 #

    I feel Tom is pretty much on the money here, not too much to add, although I think I would be inclined to mark it as a 5/10. Fab site by the way, wished I’d discovered it years ago.

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