I knew about Iron Maiden before hearing their music. In the second grade (I think) my friend Peter had a poster of the Powerslave cover on his bedroom wall. Eddy, in all his monumental Egyptian glory, squinted at me from the poster, daring me to give them a listen.
I should add that my parents never had an opinion about the music I listened to. I wasn't raised in a strict and/or religious household, and I was given freedom to explore my interests. Even so there was a feeling of transgression around Iron Maiden, as if it was something slightly evil. Of course as I got older this sense of evil only made their music more attractive.
A few years later I finally heard them on the radio. It was late at night in Seattle. It was probably cold and dark outside. KISW's Metal Shop was on the air, and as I sat there alone in my bedroom the DJ solemnly announced that the next song up was "Number of the Beast," by a band called Iron Maiden.
It was the most evil thing I'd ever heard and I immediately loved it. It was dark, it was loud, and it was full of the most delightful screaming I'd ever heard.
Soon after I went out and bought a copy of Number of the Beast from the local Fred Meyer. I can't remember the exact year, but I think their newest album at the time was either Seventh Son of a Seventh Son or Somewhere in Time. After Number of the Beast I used my allowance to buy the rest of their studio albums - the self-titled debut, Killers, Piece of Mind, and so on. My favorite album at that time was probably Powerslave.
"2 Minutes to Midnight." Yeah.
But you know what? As with Rush a lot of that band's catalog hasn't aged well for me. The videos, the spandex, the operatic vocals, and the memories thrash bands that came soon after put them on a lower tier. They were definitely revolutionary for their time, but you could also say that they were working from a formula established early on. Seeing or hearing Iron Maiden now always give me a certain sense of nostalgia, but the profundity I once found in them is gone, never to return.
This said, I do still enjoy their first album. "Remember Tomorrow," "Iron Maiden," and all that. Paul Di'anno might not be the singer Bruce Dickinson is, but the songs he did with Iron Maiden now seem less cartoonish, less fixated on the theatrical.
Albums That Changed My Life 5: Rush's first album and "Power Windows"
Albums That Changed My Life 4: The Top Gun Soundtrack
Albums That Changed My Life 3: Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band's "Trout Mask Replica"
Albums That Changed My Life 2: Arthur Brown's Kingdom Come's "Journey"