Iron Maiden needs no introduction.
Having sold millions of records and rocked audiences all over the globe, Iron Maiden is one of the world’s biggest bands. Their lofty reputation shows no signs of diminishing, with their fandom remaining at an all-time high. The current incarnation of the band, fronted by legendary vocalist Bruce Dickinson, is a true powerhouse in the hard rock and heavy metal world.
But there was a time when Maiden wasn’t one of the world’s biggest bands.
By the time 1981 rolled around, Iron Maiden had released two studio albums, IRON MAIDEN and KILLERS, as well as a handful of non-album single tracks. At the time, their vocalist was Paul Di’Anno; he’d be fired before the end of the year due to his unreliability. Di’Anno’s tenure in Maiden was drastically different from that of his successor Bruce Dickinson; this was a rawer era that was considered to have a somewhat more punky influence, though the latter album of the two certainly hinted at the direction they’d go in with Dickinson.
Bruce Dickinson’s years with Iron Maiden have been well chronicled in the form of live albums. LIVE AFTER DEATH. A REAL LIVE ONE. A REAL DEAD ONE. ROCK IN RIO. EN VIVO!. DEATH ON THE ROAD. Need I go on? And that’s not even all of them. But many fans have a soft spot for the rawer Di’Anno era of the band, and there’s unfortunately very little live material from this era; off the top of one’s head only the MAIDEN JAPAN EP likely comes to mind.
KILLERS UNITED ’81 is exactly what it sounds like. A live concert from the Netherlands in April 1981 in the days before Bruce Dickinson replaced Paul Di’Anno, effectively ending the first era of the band’s career of recorded music. As a Maiden die-hard, I’ll gladly snatch up anything the delves deeper into Di’Anno’s years in the group.
Let’s get the bad news out of the way first, that being the sound quality. Put simply, it doesn’t sound very good in terms of production/audio aspects. If you’re expecting something with sound and production quality in the league of LIVE AFTER DEATH, you’ll be disappointed. The audio is rough. At times, Paul Di’Anno’s voice drops out and is nearly inaudible. Some songs have large audio dropouts/fades. Even the final track, “Drifter,” fades out early in the middle of Di’Anno encouraging audience participation. This sounds more like a rough bootleg than a soundboard recording.
But if you can get past the middling audio, it’s an energetic concert that captures this era of the band beautifully. This is especially true considering many of these songs no longer get played live by the band anymore. Yes, you’ll still hear the Dickinson-fronted global touring band performing a handful of songs from the first two albums, but I assure you, you’re highly unlikely to hear them playing tracks like “Purgatory,” “Drifter,” “Twilight Zone,” and the instrumental “Genghis Khan,” all of which are represented here in fine form. Time capsules of this era of Maiden are rare commodities, so us fans have to take what we can get!
It’s also not clear if this is an official release endorsed by the band. On one hand, the official band website discography section doesn’t list it. But on the other hand, it’s available for listening on the band’s YouTube channel in its entirety. Additionally, the release uses the band’s official logo; this likely wouldn’t be on an unendorsed bootleg release. As far as I can tell, it’s only available physically on vinyl. Similarly, information on the release is difficult to find; many of the reviews/websites/etc. about the album I found aren’t even in English!
This release suffers from weak sound/production quality, but the 45-minute performance is a fantastic representation of Maiden doing what they did best in the pre-Bruce Dickinson days. If you can get past the audio issues, it’s a great concert, though I can really only recommend this for the most die-hard of Iron Maiden fans or anyone who wants to hear a live show from before Bruce’s tenure in the band. Stream it on the band’s official YouTube rather than getting the physical release; it’s a great concert but doesn’t quite justify the cost.
IRON MAIDEN – KILLERS UNITED 1981 Takes Audiences Back to the Paul Di’Anno Era!
Iron Maiden needs no introduction.