Thursday, May 31, 2012

"Let him who hath understanding reckon..."

This week in "!!!?!?!" - HMV, the British music retailer, recently conducted a survey to decide the "best" British album of the last 60 years; the surprise winner was Iron Maiden's epic Number of the Beast, which beat out classic albums by the Beatles, Pink Floyd and (gods be praised) Oasis.  The survey was conducted in honour of Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee; the winner itself is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.

Obviously, with Sergeant Pepper, Abbey Road, Revolver, and the White Album all in the top ten, the Beatles vote was split four ways - otherwise they would have topped the list easily.  And I highly doubt that Maiden are more popular than either Depeche Mode (who came in at number two) or Oasis (number eight). Why neither Radiohead nor Coldplay cracked the top ten is a mystery to me...maybe their fans were too busy feeling sad to vote.  So this has less to do with the popularity of Iron Maiden as it does the pitfalls of the electoral process.

Still, what an achievement, especially for a band that spent too much of the last twenty years as a set up for easy hesher jokes.  There's no arguing the album's quality or influence: three decades after its release, it still holds up as one of the pillars of the genre as well as a stone cold classic (and Maiden fired off a whole string of them).  And the Beast introduced the world to a hyperactive little man named Bruce Dickinson, who some have claimed is the greatest metal frontman of all time, and still puts out more energy than Hoover Dam despite being well into his fifties.

Corny as it sounds, I'm proud to be a hesher today, and will probably be blasting Maiden for the next 24 hours straight.  You know who else would really be stoked by all this?  Thrash gods Kreator, who just released this timely cover as a b-side to their new album/single: