Iron Maiden’s ‘Killers’ turns 30

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Iron Maiden’s Killers turned 30 yesterday. Oh, to have been a fly on the walls of Steve Harris’ mind from 1980 to 1984! Five years, five classics: Iron Maiden, Killers, Number of the Beast, Piece of Mind, Powerslave. That is a serious burst of creativity. Most people don’t do half as much in 50 years.

Here’s where I admit I don’t love Iron Maiden. I don’t hate them or even dislike them. They’re just not what I seek in music. Harris’ writing is too busy for me, especially the bass (yes, I’m a guitarist), and it chews the midrange in a way I find displeasing. I’ve always liked the other band in the same sentence (Judas Priest) more.

But I pay Harris much respect for his songwriting. Killers is flawless. I don’t particularly enjoy hearing it (“The Ides of March” always make me brace myself for yet another party where everyone else is more drunk than I am), but its craftsmanship is awesome, in the true sense of the word. The songwriting is airtight, and the performances are impeccable. Killers has lasted 30 years with good reason.

What interests me more than Killers‘ music is the visual world that’s sprung up around it. First, Derek Riggs’ cover is incredibly vivid; I love the details in the bottom half of his painting. Second, people love the album and its cover enough to refract that imagery into the world at large. Love of both aspects is necessary. People won’t wear the t-shirt of a bad album with a good cover, nor will they wear the t-shirt of a good album with a bad cover. Both elements here are, well, killer – hence the results below.

I’d love to hear your stories about Killers – your first time with it, seeing the ‘81 “Killer” tour, what your favorite song from it is (mine is “Genghis Khan”). For detailed commentary about the record (including song-by-song comments by Harris), see the incomparable Maiden fansite The Iron Maiden Commentary.

— Cosmo Lee

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KILLERS: A VISUAL TRIBUTE

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Belt buckle

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Original CD booklet

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One-of-a-kind dress

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Custom virtual racing car

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French LP, back

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Hockey goalie mask

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Miniature 10-inch guitar

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Shoe

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Shot glasses

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Virtual stained glass window (?!)

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Clockwise: UK, Spain, Argentina, Russia LP editions

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Venezuela LP label

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Killer tour poster

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Tattoo

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Onesie

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