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Showdown Of The Nwbhm Big 3

The New Wave of British Heavy Metal had three leading bands: Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Motorhead. All three were so influential that it would be impossible to conceive metal without them. Nevertheless, the time has come to pit them against each other. I happen to like all three, but it?s tough to be objective since opinions may vary and I do have my preferences. But I promise to do my best to be fair in my analysis:
1Judas Priest

Iconic songs: This is a toughie. All three bands have memorable hits. Nevertheless, at the end of the road the trademark of an iconic song is whether or not it manages to stand alone in regards to a memorable intro, chorus, guitar solo, outro, etc. In this regard, Motorhead gets the least credit (most of their songs sound quite similar to each other). Maiden has a degree of variety to their songs, and thus manages second place here. But it is Priest who wins this category (think about it: how many IM or MH intros can you remember by heart vs. JP intros? BE HONEST!!!).
Points in this category: JP: 5 pts; IM: 3 pts; MH: 1 pt.
Total tally: JP 5 pts; IM: 3 pts; MH: 1 pt.
2Iron Maiden

Good vs. bad albums: Here, there?s a diversity of opinions: many albums held as good by some are considered bad by others. Having said this, let?s have a look at the record (by my view, of course): Motorhead hasn?t really released a good album since Orgasmatron (Rock N?Roll is rather average imo); Judas Priest released 3 albums that are downright bad (I speak of Jugulator, Demolition and Nostradamus). And while Maiden released two subpar albums with Bailey, they aren?t as terrible as Priest?s worst. Therefore, IM wins it here.
Points in this category: IM: 5 pts.; JP: 3 pts.; MH: 1 pt.
Total tally: JP: 8 pts.; IM: 8 pts.; MH: 2 pts.

Bass: It?s not that hard to evaluate this one, since all three bands have had the same bassist for their whole trajectories (and the bassist is the heart and soul of two of them). The bass was never JP?s forte (Hill does nothing more than mark beats). Harris is no doubt one of the fastest bassists there is. But it?s Lemmy who wins here, since he?s not only fast, but has an impressive tone (at least, on Motorhead?s earlier albums). Lemmy > Harris >>> Hill. Case closed.
Points in this category: MH: 5 pts.; IM: 3 pts.; JP 1.
Total tally: IM: 11 pts.; JP: 9 pts.; MH: 7pts.
4Iron Maiden

Drums: This one is a tad harder, since all three bands have switched drummers. JP went through 6 different drummers (counting from their debut; 5 were regular, 1 was a session player), of which Les Binks, Ian Hunter and Scott Travis were most distinguished; MH went through 4 different drummers, of which Phil ?Philthy Animal? Taylor was most distinguished; IM went through 2 different drummers (again, counting from their debut), which were Clive Burr and Nicko McBrain. When it comes down to execution, Priest never had the most memorable drumming; Motorhead had a major drumming assault in their prime, but never one prone to improvisation; Maiden?s drumming easily wins here, since it?s always had greater improvisation (at least, in the band?s prime). Burr & McBrain > Taylor >>> Binks, Hunter and Travis. Period.
Points in this category: IM: 5 pts.; MH: 3 pts.; JP: 1 pt.
Total tally: IM: 16 pts.; MH: 10 pts.; JP: 9 pts.
5Judas Priest

Guitar riffs: This one?s easy. Motorhead?s riffs have always been samey, and have nothing special to them (aside from meshing well with the drums and bass to create a fine pummeling); Maiden?s riffs are slightly better and more memorable, though it is so simply because of how well they?re arranged in the music. Priest?s riffs are, quite simply, da bomb, and are far crunchier and more ?rockoutable? than those of either of the other two bands. K.K. is the Riff Master, end of story (pity he left the band btw).
Points in this category: JP: 5 pts.; IM: 3 pts.; MH: 1 pt.
Total tally: IM: 19 pts.; JP: 15 pts.; MH: 11pts.
6Judas Priest

Guitar solos: Personal taste accounts for a lot here. All three bands have songs with some nice fretwork. However, some solos stick out more than others. ?Fast? Eddie Clarke did a good job with Motorhead, but most of his solos are forgettable. Murray and Smith make some nice alternation between one?s bluesy solos and one?s more shreddish style. But Tipton is the king here, having seen an evolution of his style that led to some epic work in albums such as Screaming for Vengeance and Painkiller, and possessing an overwhelming tone. Tipton > Smith & Murray > Clarke (I apologize to all Priest haters out there).
Points in this category: JP: 5 pts.; IM: 3 pts.; MH: 1 pt.
Total tally: IM: 22 pts.; JP: 20 pts.; MH: 12 pts.
7Tied Between Priest & Maiden

Vocals: Things get really interesting here. Iron Maiden has had 3 vocalists, Judas Priest has had 2 (of which Halford was undoubtedly the best), and Motorhead has kept the same one (Lemmy, of course) throughout its entire course. Lemmy?s vocals are the weakest: his voice is gruff and pretty much stays in the same range in all the band?s songs; Halford?s vocals are epically strong; and as for Di Anno, Bailey, and (especially) Dickinson, all have proven to be quite talented. For this reason, the Metal Gods and the Irons are tied here, while Snaggletooth will have to settle for third..
Points in this category: JP: 4 pts.; IM: 4 pts.; MH: 1 pt.
Total tally: IM: 26 pts.; JP: 24 pts.; MH: 13 pts.
8Iron Maiden

Lyrics: Here, we?ll have a look at the lyrical creativity of the bands. Motorhead definitely has written a lot of songs that don?t even make sense from this standpoint; Judas Priest has had its share of good lyrics, but has alto written a lot of songs with cheesy ones; Iron Maiden leads the pack here, having dished out some of the best lyrics in the history of metal.
Points in this category: IM: 5 pts.; JP: 3 pts.; MH: 1 pt.
Total tally: IM: 31 pts.; JP: 27 pts.; MH: 14 pts.
9Judas Priest

Influence: Put simply, influence refers to how many bands have been inspired in the wake of these mighty titans. Priest released their first influential album (Sad Wings of Destiny) in 1974, before any of the other bands even had their debut. Motorhead came forth with 2 of their most influential records in 1979 (Overkill and Bomber), before Maiden came out. And by the time Maiden released their first Dickinson Era album in 1982 (The Number of the Beast), there were bands popping up all across the globe who already counted with the precedent of the two previous bands. That?s just the way the story goes...
Points in this category: JP: 5 pts.; MH: 3 pts.; IM: 1 pt.
Total tally: IM: 32 pts.; JP: 32 pts.; MH: 19 pts.
10Iron Maiden

Live shows: Of the three bands, I?ve only seen Maiden live (in 2008, to be exact). For evidence regarding the two other bands, I relied on footage provided by Youtube (2006 Motorhead concert http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCtT30uIlM8; 2008 Judas Priest concert http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqcF7FhePfo). Without a doubt, Priest shows the least energy live (true, they?re old, and had had a 35 year career by 2008, but Motorhead debuted only 3 years later, and Maiden did so 4 years after that). Motorhead shows more energy live, but they?re not too creative in that aspect (as they aren?t in many others). Maiden, on the other hand, is pretty much legendary here: seeing a Maiden show is a true spectacle, simply because Dickinson is a showman like no other (what other lead vocalist have you seen who switches costumes song for song?). And by the way, I didn?t see the vids whole, but after a few minutes you pretty much get a tendency.
Points in this category: IM: 5 pts.; MH: 3 pts.; JP: 1 pt.
Total tally: IM: 37 pts.; JP: 33 pts.; MH: 22 pts.
11Judas Priest

Experimentation: Say what you will, but I hold the view that variety accounts much for an artist: it speaks volumes of his willingness to ?think outside the box?, be creative and stay credible. Motorhead has no chance here: other than a slight detour in Another Perfect Day, the band has pretty much stuck to its sound throughout, to the point that (at least to me) they?ve stopped becoming interesting from the late 80?s onwards (half of Rock N? Roll being the last worth checking out). Maiden have experimented a tad more: this shows in Somewhere in Time and Seventh Son of a Seventh Son; nevertheless, they stuck to the same basic structure present since The Number of the Beast (the Bailey albums might be an exception) and returned to it with Brave New World. As for Priest, they?ve easily been the least afraid to experiment: pretty much every album is highly different from the previous one in regards to template.
Points in this category: JP: 5 pts.; IM: 3 pts.; MH: 1 pt.
Total tally: IM: 40 pts.; JP: 38 pts.; MH: 23 pts.
12Iron Maiden

The Winner: Iron Maiden. Personally, I wanted the Priests to win.
The Metal Gods shall have to settle for 2nd place.
As for Lemmy's crew, well, guess they're not that awesome after all (save for dat bass, of course).
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