IRON MAIDEN: ‘Maiden Japan’ (1981) (Capital/EMI)

Written by Marc C. Pietrek 2017

Recorded (at Kosei Nenkin Hall in Nagoya, Japan on May 23, 1981) on the ‘Killers’ World Tour, IRON MAIDEN’s ‘Maiden Japan’ showcased their rewards of all the years of playing and practicing in halls, bars, basements, disco techs and wherever else that would have them. When many old-school head bangers think of their live releases, this one is often thought of first…even before ‘Live After Death’! Of course, this comes mainly from fans of (original vocalist) Paul Di’Anno as opposed to Bruce Dickinson. I am in that group. IRON MAIDEN with Dickinson on vocals are more complex and epic, I agree. However, that almost punk rock rawness energy that IRON MAIDEN injected into their sound with Di’Anno at the helm has more than stood the test of time. Thirty six years after being replaced in IRON MAIDEN, his name still comes up prominently in discussions amongst the bands fans world-wide. ‘Maiden Japan’ is a testament to that.

I honestly had not listened to ‘Maiden Japan’ in years. After listening to a near mint used vinyl copy of ‘Maiden Japan’ recently purchased (see below) at ZIA RECODS ( in Chandler, Arizona, I remembered asking myself (back when I originally bought in the Summer of 1984), “How are they able to sound the same live as they do on vinyl?” The band flawlessly translated the five selections from both ‘Iron Maiden’ and ‘Killers’. Live, this band had quickly become as tight as a Swiss-made wristwatch.

“Running Free” and “Remember Tomorrow” (‘Iron Maiden’) actually sound better on the EP than on the debut album. I would say that it is in large part to the addition of (lead guitarist, ) Adrian Smith. (Fellow lead guitarist) Dave Murray and Smith’s styles intertwined magically, one always complimenting the other. In a way, ‘Maiden Japan’ lends credibility to ‘Iron Maiden’, an album that really could been made better but was not for stupid reasons. It sounds like ‘Iron maiden’ should have sounded,

Both “Innocent Exile” and “Killers” (‘Killers’) showcase some of classic heavy metal’s best live performances courtesy of the legendary  (bassist) Steve Harris and (drummer)’ Clive Burr. With their ability to change tempo and the songs direction on a dime, they were already one of metal’s premier rhythm sections after only two albums. The real highlight of this classic EP though, in my own opinion, is “Wrathchild” (‘Killers’). Paul Di’Anno’s vocals have an angry, snarling edginess to them that makes his live performance one of the most revered by metal heads over the years. Dave Murray’s guitar solo is text-book heavy metal lead playing. Pretty much every element that makes up a great metal solo is right there and it is executed perfectly …BOOM!

I asked a few different musicians who have a good amount of street cred in the metal world their initial thoughts about ‘Maiden Japan’ all these years later. Death metal icon, James Murphy, calls it, “One of the iconic classic metal live releases”. (Guitarist) Joe Rico of SACRIFICE asked besides, “other than being amazing ha ha?”. (Drummer) Joe Cangelosi of UNCIVIL WAR (also ex- ELIMINATE, ex- WHIPLASH, ex- KREATOR) states, “I love that recording!”. When all is said and done, this EP is one of the the all-time great heavy metal live releases. It definitely holds it’s own and should also be mentioned along with JUDAS PRIEST ‘Unleashed In the East’, U.F.O. ‘Strangers In the Night’ and THIN LIZZY ‘Live and Dangerous’.  Cheers, ya rivet-heads!


Iron Maiden – Maiden Japan (81) Full – Vinyl [HD 1080]

Iron Maiden – Maiden Japan – FULL CONCERT – Nagoya 1981





Author: Marc Pietrek

I grew up in northern California during the 1980s and have been an AVID heavy metal fan since 1982. Having experienced the Bay Area thrash metal scene first hand, thrash metal will always be at my core, However, I am also a huge fan of death metal, doom metal, traditional heavy metal, stoner rock/metal and old-school black metal. If it concerns any of those sub-genres, (to borrow a quote from Christopher Walken in 'THE KING OF NEW YORK') "I want in on it!!". Cheers, ya rivet-heads!!

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