The 10 best covers by Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden in the centre of a montage featuring Jethro Tull, UFO, Thin Lizzy and Montrose
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you want to know which bands inspired any musician, just take a look at the songs they cover. In the case of Iron Maiden’s Steve Harris, that internal playlist is largely made up of the classic rock and prog songs he grew up listening to – many of which Maiden would go on to cover on various single B-sides (remember them)? Here are the 10 best Iron Maiden covers of other people’s songs.

10. Women In Uniform (1980)

Its dodgy Benny Hill-esque sexism wouldn’t wash today, but Maiden’s version of Aussie band Skyhooks 1978 track was a killer punk/Thin Lizzy mash-up. Steve Harris hated it, and guitarist Dennis Stratton was told to do one afterwards, but any tune with the lyric “Commando raid on the Lebanese border/Sergeant Anita gives the order” works for us!

9. Kill Me Ce Soir (1990)

Offbeat Dutch rockers Golden Earring are a Harris favourite, and while Maiden’s version of this 1975 tune omits some of the more eclectic orchestration of the original, it still takes Maiden into unfamiliar territory with its deliberately mid-paced, oppressive and downright malevolent feel. One for connoisseurs maybe, but great all the same.

8. Cross-Eyed Mary (1983)

Another big Harris favourite, Brit proggers Jethro Tull recorded Cross-Eyed Mary on their 1971 classic, Aqualung. Maiden take the borderline medieval sound of the original and turn it into something altogether more muscular and Maiden-esque. Bruce Dickinson delivers a lung-busting vocal performance full of deliberately hokey schlock-horror, but there’s no arguing that it works.

7. I’ve Got The Fire (1980)

Maiden actually recorded two different versions of this 1974 belter by Montrose. This is the earlier of the two, live from the Marquee in 1980, and is a perfect snapshot of Maiden’s early, more ragged and punky sound. Paul Di’Anno’s earthy vocal approach gives the song an urgency that’s simply undeniable.

6. Massacre (1988)

A faithful run-through of the Thin Lizzy classic from 1976’s Johnny The Fox album, highlighting the roots of the intuitive twin-guitar interplay of Adrian Smith and Dave Murray that forms such an important part of the group’s sound. This is Maiden paying homage to the band that was a huge inspiration and pulling it off with ease.

5. Hocus Pocus (2006)

Released as part of a European DVD single for Different World, this rollicking romp through Dutch prog yodellers Focus’ hair-raising 1991 single Hocus Pocus is a real deep cut, but one that gets our vote every time. With drummer Nicko McBrain thrashing the life out of his kit and adding a number of daft and delightful ad-libs into the mix, this is a total delight.

4. Doctor Doctor (1996)

UFO’s 1974 Doctor Doctor has been Maiden’s intro tape since forever, so it’s no surprise the band finally interpreted this mid-paced rocker during the Blaze Bayley era. The much-maligned singer puts in a decent effort here. It’s hard to cock up such a classic, though, so you wouldn’t expect Maiden to make a Horlicks of it, would you?

3. King Of Twilight (1984)

Harris reaches back into his patchouli-oil past to resurrect a song originally recorded by prog outfit Nektar in 1972. In actual fact, this is a mash up of two Nektar songs, Crying In The Dark and King Of Twilight, with both numbers given a Maiden facelift and joined together into a sprawling, enthralling metal/prog beast.

2. Rainbow’s Gold (1984)

Powered by a truly insistent beat from Nicko McBrain, this is an adrenaline-packed rush through a 1974 tune by Brit prog outfit Beckett. Featuring a number of unapologetically OTT rhythm changes and audacious drum fills, you can feel the band loving every minute of their work here. And check out ‘Arry’s last-gasp bass runs. Finger-lickin’ good!

1. All In Your Mind (1990)

Originally recorded in 1970 by British hard rockers Stray, this is a turbocharged run through what was originally a long, complicated, more ethereally-tinged hard rocker. Stray’s version doesn’t have the musical competence that Maiden bring as ambition outweighs ability. Maiden’s version does away with the harmony vocals to toughen things up and deliver something very different.

Howard Johnson is a music writer based in France. The editor of Rock Candy magazine, he's also written for Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, RAW, Q, MoJo and Japanese rock magazine Burrn!, and is a French football correspondent for World Soccer mag. He has also written a book on AC/DC, Get Your Jumbo Jet Out Of My Airport.