Σάββατο, 29 Σεπτεμβρίου 2018

Iron Maiden - Somewhere in Time

Originally released on September 29th of 1986, "Somewhere in Time" is the sixth studio album of Iron Maiden. That day, we got a glimpse of the future. Let's remember...


Following the groundbreaking World Slavery Tour (more than 300 days with more than 180 live shows), "Somewhere in  Time" was a difficult album. Bruce Dickinson's acoustic-based song ideas were rejected by the band and there isn't any song contributed by Dickinson on the album. According to Dickinson, "I went off into 'acoustic world' and I wanted to do almost like an 'unplugged' record for the next Iron Maiden album". On the other hand, Adrian Smith's contribution is more than important since he wrote the album's singles, "Wasted Years" and "Stranger in a Strange Land". I can't even imagine how Steve Harris felt when Dickinson presented his new ideas, especially after songs like "Powerslave" and "Flash of the Blade" that he wrote for the previous album. Dickinson also, didn't work with Adrian Smith this time and wrote alone, so we are missing again the great songs they were composing together, like "2 Minutes to Midnight" and "Flight of Icarus". It took many years for Dickinson to write again alone a song for Iron Maiden.

The futuristic song themes of space and time fit perfectly with the guitar synth and the grand production of the album (even if it is not a concept), but some fans and critics back in the day didn't like them. The amazing cover art with the cyborg Eddie in the post-apocalyptic environment is also the perfect match. However, while years pass by, "Somewhere in Time" stands as the ultimate Maiden favourite among few fans, but in the Maiden history (Iron Maiden themselves, the band) it is like a forgotten album. At least for Harris and Dickinson.

Producer Martin Birch and the band used the latest technology of 1986 and "Somewhere in Time", even if it has all the elements that made Maiden (probably) the greatest metal band, it sounds "different" for first time. The use of guitar synthesizers is the most obvious thing you listen to. In the next album ("Seventh Son of a Seventh Son", 1988) Iron Maiden replaced synth guitars with keyboards.

"Somewhere in Time" is sophisticated with a futuristic approach and it has some strong progressive elements. It was something new, exciting and different. The opening track "Caught Somewhere in Time" is one of the best album opener tracks ever (not the best song, the album opener), and it sets at once the album's new identity. Everything is here, new and yet so similar: dual guitar harmonies, galloping tempos, melody, amazing guitar solos and sections. The middle section on "Caught Somewhere in Time" and the guitar solo on "Stranger in a Strange Land" are among the best of the band. There were also hits on the album, and those were the Adrian Smith songs. "Wasted Years" is an immortal nostalgic anthem, but Smith didn't write again a song alone. At least Harris didn't use any and over the years it seems that Harris and the the management wanted to keep in "borders" Dickinson's and Smith's ideas during the '80s so their songs won't change the Iron Maiden identity and Harris' vision. That changed in the future.

The tour that followed was more difficult than the album itself. That was probably the first time where Iron Maiden kept changing the tracklist of the tour and dropping some of the album songs. "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner" was even dropped after the first show... Somewhere on Tour started in September of 1986 in Yugoslavia and ended in May of 1987 in Japan. Support acts during the tour included Waysted, W.A.S.P., Vinnie Vincent Invasion and Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force. "Somewhere in Time" has sold more than 1.000.000 copies in the United States.

My personal opinion on "Somewhere in Time"? It is my favourite Maiden album and one of the three albums that I've listened most of the times in my life. The other two are Ozzy Osbourne's "Bark at the Moon" and Black Sabbath's "Heaven and Hell". By the way, just have a close listen to the drumming of Nico McBrain on this album.

Tracklist:
1. Caught Somewhere in Time (Harris)
2. Wasted Years (Smith)
3. Sea of Madness (Smith)
4. Heaven Can Wait (Harris)
5. The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (Harris)
6. Stranger in a Strange Land (Smith)
7. Déjà Vu (Murray/Harris)
8. Alexander the Great (Harris)

Line-up:
Bruce Dickinson - vocals
Adrian Smith - guitars, guitar synth, backing vocals
Dave Murray - guitars, guitar synth
Steve Harris - bass, bass synth
Nicko McBrain - drums

Produced, engineered & mixed by Martin Birch

Sleeve illustrations by Derek Riggs