Early 1990, ‘No Prayer For The Dying’ was to be produced. Recorded in The Rolling Stones’ mobile studio in a converted barn in the side of the grounds of Steve Harris’ mansion in Essex. This was the first studio album produced on home soil since ‘Number Of The Beast’. Bruce Dickinson was about to take off his solo career with Janick Gers after a few years on the road and two more albums (only to return years later).
This isn’t exactly their most famous album, and many fans can be forgiven for missing this one out of their collection. Let’s just see how good this over-looked Maiden album is.
‘Tailgunner’ opens with a deep, constant riff and the high-hat dancing in the background as the bass enters. Then Bruce enters, setting the scene with “trace your way back 50 years” and a tale of World War 2 is almost whispered through the speakers.
Until the chorus enters, it’s a fairly uninteresting song and the solo seems to keep everything from becoming too dull. It’s a short opener, and in some ways, reminiscent to ‘The Evil That Men Do’. Not a bad start.
This is where everything picks up. ‘Holy Smoke’ starts with yet another Maiden-style catchy lead riff and Bruce enters with a song about the corruption of religion and morality in modern society. It was released September 10th, 1990 and reached number 3 in the UK charts. The lyrics are a bit goofy and the video was very strange, but don’t ask me anything about that.
A sweet drum pattern and a steady lead riff later and a song similar to ‘Blood Brothers’ is told. What is it about? Besides Steve Harris pouring his heart out into a 4-minute space, it’s about questioning the meaning of life and to a large extent, God.
Once it reaches the second verse, the energy picks up and what you’re left with is a reaction similar to all of Maiden’s experimental pieces. Let’s leave it at that.
‘Public Enema Number One’. If you’ve ever heard ‘Man On The Edge’, you will know what to expect. Accept with more plays on words and a less energetic chorus. Although, to be fair, it is better written and more exciting musically.
There’s a 46 second guitar part before ‘Fates Warning’ really starts and it sounds like an acceptable track, the drumming is frantic, the rhythm to which everything is sung by is fairly derisory and repetitive. Not the worst song you’ll hear by these guys, but there’s defiantly been better.
‘The Assassin’ starts off very energetically. Spoken from the mouth of the killer himself, this is a very devious song, with the chorus featuring Bruce and all chanting “better watch out”. It is again another track that has somewhat to be desired.
‘Run Silent Run Deep’ has a fairly daunting introduction, with a pulsing rhythm during the verses and an epic solo. This is defiantly a step in the right direction as far as this album is concerned.
This is the third part of the ‘Charlotte The Harlot’ story. A beguiling beginning, with very clear-cut lyrics. As all of Charlotte’s songs have been, there was no need for metaphors or hidden messages. The imagery was vivid, the vocals were almost hissed, and the story of a lonely man in search of company unravels…
This is it, the highlight of the album. Anyone who knows anything about Iron Maiden will recognise ‘Bring Your Daughter… To The Slaughter’. It’s an incredible song, and should be if a metal band should achieve number 1 with the single. This was originally intended for Bruce Dickinson’s solo album ‘Tattooed Millionaire’, but after hearing it, Steve Harris declared how it would benefit Maiden.
The only critism I have with this album is that the both the lyrics and title are a little cheesy, but nevertheless, it’s an outstanding song, I won’t say anything else. Those who haven’t heard it should do so now.
‘Mother Russia’ closes the album, and what a strange way to close an album. It’s a fairly dreary epic and most likely a filler track.
Considering the rushed rehearsal time and bizarre feelings in early 1990, Maiden pulled out a pretty good album. Once you get over the dreadful title of ‘Public Enema…’, you find an otherwise well-written song accompanied by a whole host of both fillers and timeless classics.
: ‘Tailgunner’, ‘Holy Smoke’, ‘Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter’.