For their fifth album, Iron Maiden faced the daunting task of matching or even bettering what they'd achieved with Piece Of Mind in 1983. What they did was, if anything, even better. Powerslave remains one of the strongest pillars of Maiden mythology and metal history,. In tribute we've delved through the archives and combed the trivia to give you this insight into the album that boldly used the Eye of Horus in the lyrics for the title track - not many metal bands would have been so daring!
The band wrote most of the songs for the Powerslave album in Jersey, which is where they also wrote the Piece Of Mind album.
The actual recording was done at Compass Point Studios in Nassau. It was mixed at Electric Ladyland in New York.
Maiden experienced consistent equipment failure in the studio. And when the air conditioning broke down, the workmen sent to repair it brought their own step ladder and…well, this is what Nicko McBrain said: “The funny thing is, the minute the step ladder was set up in the room all the rest of the recording equipment suddenly started functioning properly! I know it sounds ridiculous, but that’s what happened…and we all started staring at this step ladder and ribbing each other going, ‘It must be the step ladder-it’s shaped like a pyramid!’. I tell you, we didn’t let them take that step ladder away for days!”
Aces High was inspired by the Battle Of Britain, the first battle to be fought solely in the air.
Aces High was the second single to be released from Powerslave, peaking at number 20 in the UK. Although the B side for this is credited as being a cover of Nektar’s King Of Twilight, it was actually a medley of that song and Crying In The Dark, another Nektar track.
2 Minutes To Midnight is based on the Doomsday Clock, which counted down to potential global disaster through political confrontations. Midnight is the symbolic trigger, and the closest the clock has ever gotten to this was in September 1953, when it stood at… 2 Minutes To Midnight.
2 Minutes To Midnight was released as the first single from the album, peaking at number 11 in the UK. One of the sides was Mission From ‘Arry. This was an actual argument between Nickp McBrain and Steve Harris, secretly recorded by Bruce Dickinson.
Rime Of The Ancient Mariner was based on the poem of the same titled, written by 18th/19th century writer Samuel Taylor Coleridge. It also quotes two sections from the poem.
If you look closely at the album sleeve, you’ll spot artist Derek Riggs put his logo into the painting. It’s right above the pyramid entrance.
The phrases ‘Bollocks’, ‘Indiana Jones Was Here 1941’, ‘What A Load Of Crap’ and ‘Wot, No Guiness?’ are also used on the cover. Written in hieroglyphics. Oh, and there’s also a drawing of Mickey Mouse.
This was the first album Maiden had recorded with the same line-up as on their last one.
Flash Of The Blade was used on the soundtrack to the 1985 Dario Argento movie Phenomena.
The Duellist was inspired by the 1978 Ridley Scott film of the same title. This in turn was based on the 1908 Joseph Conrad novel _The Duel. _
Back In The Village was inspired by the cult 1960s TV series The Prisoner, as was the song The Prisoner, from The Number Of The Beast. Some have claimed that when Dickinson sings ‘I see sixes all the way’ here, you can hear someone whispering ‘six six six’ in the background.
The album reached number two in the UK and number 21 in the US. It was also the first Maiden album to chart in Switzerland.
The subsequent world tour lasted 11 months and went to 28 countries. Dubbed The World Slavery Tour, it began on August 9, 1984 in Warsaw and ended at Irvine Meadows in California on July 5, 1985 – 331 days and 187 gigs.
Read about Iron Maiden touring Japan in 2006 here.
What are the chances of Maiden headlining Hyde Park? Read what Bruce Dickinson says of that idea here.