Founder, driving force, bassist and Eddie’s best mate (we imagine), Steve Harris is Iron Maiden’s formidable spirit in human form. More importantly, he is also one of the finest songwriters our world has ever produced. Maiden are a fairly democratic bunch when it comes to sharing the songwriting spoils, but Steve has always been the band’s most prolific composer and has penned some of their most immortal anthems. Here are the ten of the finest, galloping directly towards your eyeballs.
10. Infinite Dreams (1988)
Widely seen as a creative peak for Maiden, Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son was a mixture of short, sharp anthems and more adventurous, prog-tinged material. A typically thoughtful Harris creation, Infinite Dreams managed to combine both disciplines, with huge melodies exploding from every angle and some of Dave Murray and Adrian Smith’s best duelling leads ever.
9. The Red & The Black (2015)
It takes something special to stand out on album that also features an 18-minute song about an exploding airship, but The Red And The Black was instantly hailed as a fan favourite when The Book Of Souls was released in 2015. Although full of Steve Harris’ melodic and chordal trademarks, there was something uniquely stirring and fresh about this towering epic.
8. Phantom Of The Opera (1980)
Still irrevocably associated in the minds of anyone who grew up in the UK in the 1980s with Lucozade and Daley Thompson, Phantom Of The Opera was Harris’ first immaculate epic, closing the first side of their self-titled debut with an absurd amount of fire and bombast. Making at least 98 per cent of the entire NWOBHM movement sound like lumpen pub rock, it still rips like a Jason Voorhees ambush.
7. For The Greater Good Of God (2006)
Showcased in full, in-the-flesh splendour on new live album Nights Of The Dead, this certified keeper from Maiden’s darkest album, A Matter Of Life And Death, once again explored the folly of war, in all its destructive power and pathos. Memorably covered by Trivium in 2016, For The Greater Good Of God is pure ‘Arry gold, but with a heart of darkness.
6. Aces High (1984)
Iron Maiden were a well-oiled machine by the time they made Powerslave in 1984. As a result, the album’s opening track explodes with an electrified vitality that has rarely been bettered since, even by Maiden. Aces High is one of ’Arry’s most wildly exhilarating feats of compositional derring-do: a four-minute aerial dogfight, with Bruce Dickinson in full-on Air Raid Siren mode.
5. Blood Brothers (2000)
Arguably the most cherished of all post-millennial Maiden songs, Brave New World highlight Blood Brothers brilliantly summed up the kinship between the band and their army of rabidly devoted fans. With a chorus that genuinely soars and a sentiment that seems more important than ever right now, this long-established live favourite shows what a big-hearted softie Steve Harris really is.
4. Rime Of The Ancient Mariner (1984)
As epic and imposing as Powerslave’s iconic cover art, Rime Of The Ancient Mariner was the moment that Steve Harris’ imagination run riot. Nearly 14 minutes long, the bassist’s adaptation of the legendary Coleridge poem was vivid, dramatic and balls-out heavy: the Maiden ethos, pushed to a new and thrilling extreme.
3. The Trooper (1983)
The opening moments of The Trooper are one of heavy metal’s great calling cards, eliciting howls of approval from sensible people everywhere. What is even more amazing about what is one of Maiden’s most enduring hits is that (a) it doesn’t really have a chorus, and (b) it doesn’t mention the word “trooper” once. Genius, you might call it.
2. The Number Of The Beast (1982)
Despite the fact that it also upset lots of stupid religious people, Maiden’s third album The Number Of The Beast was widely and rightly hailed as a masterpiece upon its release in 1982. Its title track is still one of the most exciting metal songs of all time: Steve Harris’ love of a spooky yarn blending perfectly with the sound of a soon-to-be world-conquering heavy metal band hitting their stride at a tooth-rattling pace.
1. Hallowed Be Thy Name (1982)
Feel free to argue about whether this or Metallica’s Master Of Puppets is the greatest heavy metal song of all time, but either way Hallowed Be Thy Name is in the top two. Wielding real emotional power and highlighting Maiden’s burgeoning storytelling chops, Hallowed’s tale of a condemned man facing the gallows captured the imaginations of a generation of metal fans. It also firmly established Steve Harris as one of heavy music’s most distinctive songwriters, via melodies and riffs that will live on forever.