Every Iron Maiden LP is a collection of original material. Singles are another story. B-Sides present an opportunity to record songs by other artists. The following cover songs show the light-hearted side of Iron Maiden. It’s the sound of a top-tier act cutting loose and having fun.
I’VE GOT THE FIRE
“Sanctuary” had garnered Iron Maiden praise as part of a compilation that documented Britain’s emerging metal scene. Already a live staple, the song was re-recorded and released as an official single. Side two featured live songs from a 1980 performance at London’s Marquee Club. First up was a raucous version of “Drifter,” followed by a spirited cover of the Montrose classic “I’ve Got the Fire.”
“I’ve Got the Fire” made a second appearance in 1983. In contrast to the raw sound of the live version, this new recording was a polished studio creation. Featured as the B-Side to Flight of Icarus, “I’ve Got The Fire” remains the only Maiden cover to bear the mark of both Paul Di’Anno and Bruce Dickinson.
WOMEN IN UNIFORM
1980 saw the official release of “Women in Uniform.” Originally recorded by the Australian glam band Skyhooks, “Women in Uniform” seemed like a strange choice for an emerging metal band.
Iron Maiden’s publishing company had floated the idea in the hope of securing a hit. The cover version is naturally gruffer and arranged in a way that suited a metal band. Still, Maiden has expressed displeasure with the song. Despite personal misgivings, “Women in Uniform” was etched into Iron Maiden history when the single became their first promotional video!
Iron Maiden had a surprise hit when they covered “Cross-Eyed Mary” for The Trooper B-Side. Much to the band’s surprise, U.S. radio stations began playing the Jethro Tull cover. Capitol records asked the band to add “Cross-Eyed Mary” to the LP. Maiden refused, citing that a re-sequenced album would be unfair to fans that had already purchased Piece of Mind.
Iron Maiden continued to celebrate their progressive rock influence by covering Beckett’s “A Rainbow’s Gold.” Shortened to “Rainbow’s Gold,” the Iron Maiden version appeared on the flipside of Two Minutes to Minute.
KING OF TWILIGHT
The second single from Powerslave also contained a progressive rock cover. This time Iron Maiden tackled the German band, Nektar. “King of Twilight” proved to be the perfect complement to Aces High.
After concluding Iron Maiden’s exhaustive “World Slavery Tour,” Nicko McBrain formed a side-project to keep busy during the six-month break. Adrian Smith soon joined him with a host of friends. Collectively known as The Entire Population of Hackney, the band performed two gigs before Maiden reconvened to write Somewhere in Time.
Guitarist Dave Colwell wrote “Reach Out” specifically for the project. The song was ultimately recorded by Iron Maiden and used as the B-Side to Wasted Years. With a lead vocal by Adrian Smith, “Reach Out” is a unique addition to the world of Iron Maiden.
Stranger in a Stranger Land also used a song performed by The Entire Population of Hackney. Written and recorded by the band FM a mere three weeks before Somewhere in Time, the obscurity of “That Girl” makes the song feel like an original composition.
The 12-inch version of Stranger in a Stranger Land offered yet another obscure cover. Marshall Fury wrote “Juanita” but the band never recorded a studio version of the song. Thankfully Iron Maiden brought the song to a wider audience.
Can I Play With Madness featured an original composition titled “Black Bart Blues” as a B-Side. Some versions contained a bonus Thin Lizzy cover. Taken from the classic Johnny the Fox, “Massacre” is a rarity in the world of Iron Maiden covers. It was left off both the box set and recent batch of single reissues.
ALL IN YOUR MIND
Iron Maiden stepped into the nineties with the release of No Prayer for the Dying. “Holy Smoke” was made into a video and the single featured a pair of cover songs. First up was “All in your Mind,” originally recorded by seventies English rockers Stray.
KILL ME CE SOIR
A Golden Earring cover rounded out Holy Smoke. Famous for the song “Radar Love,” Iron Maiden opted for a lesser-known selection from the Golden Earring catalogue. “Kill Me Ce Soir,” was taken from the 1975 album Switch.
I’M A MOVER
Iron Maiden followed the double cover song pattern again with Bring Your Daughter to the Slaughter. First up was a cover of the Free song, “I’m a Mover.”
Maiden also tackled a Led Zeppelin song. Rather than experiment with one of Zeppelin’s longer numbers, Maiden chose a simple rocker. Clocking in under 3 minutes, “Communication Breakdown” is a quick burst of bare bones rock and roll.
SPACE STATION No. 5
Iron Maiden had already released two version of the Montrose classic “I’ve Got the Fire.” Maiden revisited Montrose again in the early nineties. This time the band recorded “Space Station No. 5” as a B-Side for Be Quick or Be Dead.
ROLL OVER VIC VELLA
Covers offered a chance for Iron Maiden to goof off and have a laugh. This version of Chuck Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven” is not a strict cover. Rechristened “Roll Over Vic Vella,” the track features a recorded conversation between roadie Vic Vella and Steve Harris. Lyrics have been altered but the basic melody remains.
I CAN’T SEE MY FEELINGS
The picture disc version of From Here To Eternity scrapped the Chuck Berry cover. In its place was a Budgie song. Metallica had made the band a familiar name after covering “Breadfan” and “Crash Course in Brain Surgery.” Now Iron Maiden paid their own salute to the Welsh group by recording “I Can’t See My Feelings.”
The vast majority of Iron Maiden covers have been relatively unknown songs. When choosing B-Sides for Lord of the Flies, Maiden opted for a classic rock staple. “My Generation” is instantly identifiable to anyone with a passing familiarity with rock music.
“Doctor Doctor” has a special place in the world of Iron Maiden. The UFO song is played over the PA directly before Maiden takes the stage. It’s only fitting that the band recorded their own version.