The World Slavery Tour was my first concert ever; and in retrospect, what a great concert to start with! By 1984, when “Powerslave” came out, Iron Maiden had established themselves at the top of the heavy metal heap. Their previous album, “Piece of Mind,” was a huge seller, and the successful World Piece Tour set the bar high for the band’s follow up. The radio was already playing “Two Minutes to Midnight,” so I had an idea we’d have more of the same good music.
When “Powerslave” came out, I grabbed a copy as soon at it hit the stores. I still remember the album — especially the textured front cover and a mass of hieroglyphics to decipher. (See what you lose with CD art?) There’s all sorts of little messages Derek Riggs included in the cover, you just needed to have a hieroglyphics key to decipher them. I also recall there being a message scrawled on the vinyl’s lead-out that said, “There’s only one!” I’m not sure if that was just a random note or if there was anything to it. Who knows, maybe I had the winning album in some sort of meet the band contest.
Even though I had gotten a small sample of the music, I was a bit disappointed on first listen. I guess I was looking to be slapped in the face and bowled over by it, but that didn’t happen. Maybe it was because the band’s sound had become more technical, weaving together more intricate melodies, I’m not sure. Nevertheless, over the years, I’ve grown to really love the album.
In retrospect, this is a pretty good place to start if you’ve never heard a full album from the band’s earlier days. I’ve always thought “The Number of the Beast” was better, but “Powerslave” shows a band reaching their creative peak. You not only get songs that widely regarded as Iron Maiden classics: “Aces High,” “2 Minutes to Midnight,” and “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” but the other songs round out the album almost to perfection. I have especially grown to love “Back in the Village” and “Flash of the Blade,” two songs I’d love to see in the setlist.
One note — I am especially thankful for “Rime of the Ancient Mariner;” it came along during Freshman year English class. While the song isn’t the whole poem , it contained enough to allow me to quote several passages and pass many a quiz!