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The Five Best Iron Maiden Songs with Paul Di’Anno

Original Iron Maiden singer Paul Di’Anno only appeared on three of the band’s records – Iron MaidenKillersand Maiden Japan – but he certainly left his mark on some of Maiden’s best songs with his gruff vocals and snarly East London attitude. Di’Anno, who joined the band in 1978, was ultimately fired in 1981 by manager Rod Smallwood, after bassist and bandleader Steve Harris questioned Di’Anno’s commitment to the band, which was being undermined by his affection for booze and cocaine. Nevertheless, Di’Anno had a huge impact with fans and here are five of the best songs he recorded during his brief tenure with Iron Maiden.

Prowler

The opening track from Maiden’s 1980 self-titled debut album, “Prowler” is arguably one of Maiden’s best songs, period. It’s got a punk feel to it that’s perfectly suited to Di’Anno’s gruff vocal style. Lyrically it’s about a perverted creep who gets off masturbating in the bushes as he peeps at various ladies passing by. A major highlight of the track is Dave Murray’s blistering guitar solo while the band keeps it rocking in double time. Steve Harris wrote the music and lyrics.

Phantom of the Opera

Another track from their first record, “Phantom of the Opera” features Iron Maiden at their epic, progressive-metal best. At 7:02, it’s a longer track with plenty of tempo and feel changes throughout. Penned by Steve Harris, Phantom is a shining example of where the band would go on later albums. The guitar solos by Dave Murray and Dennis Stratton are tastefully executed, while drummer Clive Burr lays down an absolutely furious drum beat during the verses, while also showing his great feel on the slower parts of the song. “Phantom of the Opera” has featured prominently in Maiden’s live shows for years and is a favourite of Harris’s.

Drifter

A song that maybe flies under the radar a bit, “Drifter” is the last track on 1981’s Killers album, but it’s an all-out rocker. From the opening guitar notes to Di’Anno’s scream of “Walk Away”, “Drifter” – written by Steve Harris – delivers thanks to a punky verse offset by a slower bridge with a great, slow Dave Murray solo. After the last verse, Adrian Smith delivers one of the best guitar solos on the entire record (using a wah wah) that carries the track to the end, where Di’Anno shows his vocal chops on that last scream. It’s such a good song, in fact, that Maiden has dusted it off and played it during a few tours over the past decade.

Murders in the Rue Morgue

Based on the Edgar Allan Poe of the same name, “Murders in the Rue Morgue” is a song narrated from the first person with an amazing feel that almost puts the listener on the streets in Paris, harkening to Maiden’s ability to paint pictures with music. A highlight comes from the twin guitar solo of Dave Murray and Adrian Smith, while Di’Anno lays down a convincingly menacing vocal track as the killer of two young girls.

Killers

On “Killers”, Di’Anno is at his best, whether it’s the powerful opening screams or the conviction he brings in the vocal delivery during the verses. It’s a song where Di’Anno gets a rare songwriting credit (alongside Steve Harris) and it’s one of Iron Maiden’s best early tracks with its driving energy and foreboding lyrics about a serial killer who murders with knife. Harris sets the tone with a dark bass intro and it takes off from there. This is arguably Di’Anno’s finest moment in his three years with Iron Maiden.

Check out more of Cam Maxwell’s Rock ‘N Roll Insight.

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