August 7, 2009
With the ouster of original vocalist Paul Di’Anno and the hiring of BRUCE DICKINSON (born 1958) just before the release of their immortal third album, The Number of the Beast, Iron Maiden had finally completed its transformation from workaday maggot to luminous blue bottle. Dickinson’s ululations and earnest dramatic flair allowed Steve Harris’s compositions to go full-on space-operatic, as in Maiden’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune: “He rules the sandworms and the Fremen/In a land amongst the stars/Of an age tomorrow…. Without a stillsuit you would fry/On the sands so hot and dry/In a world called Arrakis.” In so many respects peak-era Iron Maiden resembles the famously ridiculous Spinal Tap, but it is Dickinson’s sincerity that makes the songs brilliant even when they are preposterous. Where Di’Anno was a snarling pub rocker, Dickinson is a strolling minstrel regaling us with yarns — accompanied by galloping bass, electric guitar pas de deux, and sepulchral voiceovers — about the Flight of Icarus, the Charge of the Light Brigade, and the cult British sci-fi series The Prisoner.
On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: | Nicholas Ray |
READ MORE about members of the Original Generation X (1954–1963).