Author Neil Daniels has an extensive writing career in Heavy Metal and Classic Rock. He’s accredited for having written on the subject for a lot of magazines, fanzines, as well as Websites. He had more than ten books published between the years 2007 and 2011, including titles on Judas Priest, Robert Plant, Bon Jovi, and Journey. Additionally, his reviews, articles, and interviews have appeared in many esteemed publications and Websites, includig The Guardian and Classic Rock magazine. Neil’s latest endeavor is the long-titled book Iron Maiden: The Ultimate Unauthorized History Of The Beast!
There’s always some trepidation in picking up a book with the word “unauthorized” in its title, since it leads to questions as to whether the information contained within is true and factual. In regards to this book, however, if you’re looking for a lot of “dirt” or detailed gossip on any of the controversies behind Iron Maiden then you’re best off to look elsewhere. If that’s not your “thing”, then what you will find in Daniels’ book is a tribute to one of the greatest Heavy Metal bands ever presented in a detailed year-by-year journey through the band’s history; presented much like a gargantuan episode of VH1’s Behind The Music cable show.
This 216 page “Iron Maiden Manual”, if you will, includes stories, quotes and reviews that discuss the band’s formation, line-up changes, recordings, and tours. Each chapter is broken down into Iron Maiden “eras”, e.g., “Beginnings Of The Beast: The Early Years 1975-1978", “Running Free: Flight To Success And The NWOBHM 1979-1980”, “666: The Number Of Iron Maiden 1981-1982”, etc. The history of the band is discussed in third person as Neil brings together a lot of the band members’ quotes from past interviews he, and noted others, have held. Think of Daniels as being the “tour guide” or historian who takes readers through Iron Maiden’s history year by guided year.
Each chapter is adorned with colorful, quality live, backstage, and promo images, as well as pictures of memorabilia, gig posters, T-shirts, backstage passes, buttons, tickets, and set list selections from that era’s major tour. Not stopping there, each chapter also includes the tour schedule for that era, including such details as dates, cities, and notes on cancellations and re-scheduled appearances. Each chapter also has a nice album “re-review” of the release from that era supplied by guest contributors.
The book is packed with so many pictorial and commentary goodies, plus side stories, that sometimes it feeds into the book’s only shortcoming. A lot of these goodies, which include sub-text, tend to detract and break up the major story of that chapter much too often. Too many “(continued on page 60)” footnotes leads to much page flipping to continue with the main story’s flow, especially mid-sentence.
That minor quibble aside, the book doesn’t stop after the last chapter as the end of the book (appendices?) includes a nice “selected discography” that is a pretty extensive coverage of most albums, videos, DVDs, singles, box sets, etc. Neil also includes a list of his primary sources for the tour schedules as well as a nice “Where Are They Now?” featurette. All of this is topped off with a nice cover created by none other than Derek Riggs, who is of course the man partly responsible for Iron Maiden's iconic mascot, Eddie.
When all is said and done, Daniels has truly supplied fans with an “ultimate” manual of Iron Maiden, granted a fair portion of the written material won’t be “news” to the avid fan, but hopefully that won’t stop anyone from buying a copy. Reading the book from cover to cover serves as an excellent romp through the band’s history. It’s a fun and satisfying trip down memory lane and will most assuredly ignite that spark that causes you to pull out those Iron Maiden albums for another listen, even if just to see if you agree with the included “re-reviews”. The book lists for the US price of $40 and can be purchased on-line at Jaw Bone Press’ Website and many on-line book retailers!