366 DAYS OF METAL: “Caught Somewhere In Time” (Iron Maiden)

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METAL MEMORIES: Somewhere In Time (Iron Maiden)

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METAL MEMORIES: Iron Maiden - Somewhere In Time

Somewhere In Time

Christmas, 1986. It was the family gathering for our annual dinner and gift exchange at my Great Grandpa Wheatley’s place. I had just turned 13, and had been asking for rock and metal albums a year or two prior rather than toys. This particular year, I had requested the recently released Somewhere In Time by some band called Iron Maiden.

Up until then, my foray into the world of hard rock and metal was novice at best. The only actual hard rock albums I owned were AC/DC’s Highway To Hell and Ted Nugent’s Double Live Gonzo, both second-hand copies from my Uncle Jerry and well-played by yours truly. Most of my self education with hard rock was by way of the Omaha radio station Z-92, the self-proclaimed Home of Rock N’ Roll. And while the station did, indeed, rock the face off of this aspiring metalhead just barely out of his tweens, while most of my classmates were content with the sugary wasteland of Top 40 pop station Sweet 98, there wasn’t much actual metal played, mostly album-oriented rock. Sure, more hard rockers than most, but beyond that I had yet to get a good taste of METAL.

Then, one afternoon, while wandering around the music section of Fremont’s ALCO – back when ALCO was a decent small town department store, and they had a good sized music section – I spotted Iron Maiden’s just-released Somewhere In Time displayed in all its glory in the prominent New Releases section.

Laugh if you wish. I had no idea who Iron Maiden was at the time. I saw some of the upperclassmen at school wearing concert tees from time to time, emblazoned with the band’s mascot (who I later learned was named “Eddie”), but beyond a fascination with the gruesome artwork I had no formal introduction to the music of Iron Maiden. Which made things even more mysterious and intriguing.

I remember standing there in the department store, staring at the album artwork on the LP, transfixed by the detail that looked like it belonged on a movie poster with its dystopian futuristic sci-fi theme. I mean, look at it. Go ahead, scroll back up and give it a good look. It was then that I made a silent vow: This album will be mine. I didn’t care that I wasn’t familiar with the band or its music. By the album artwork alone, I made it my quest to acquire that album and discover the mysteries contained within.

Yeah, yeah – don’t judge a book by its cover, and all that. Whatever. Album artwork should be an extension of the music it protects. But, that’s a rant for another time.

Shortly thereafter, when it came time to put in our requests for Christmas gifts, Somewhere In Time topped the short list. Cassette preferred, as I found them much more versatile than vinyl. Looking back, I would have liked to have heard the band on vinyl, but given I was young and extremely stupid the cassette survived better. Believe me. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Christmas came. The Wheatley family Christmas arrived. And sitting there in my pile of seasonal booty haul was, as I had hoped, was a brand new copy of Somewhere In Time. I was ecstatic. I also learned that it was purchased by my Great Aunt Mona, my Grandmother’s sister, and not the first person you would think of to volunteer buying something with that kind of cover art for their young Great Nephew.

That night, when we all got home, I immediately went to my room, removed the cellophane wrapping, took a moment to take in the essence of the cassette (not as weird as it sounds, kiddies), and then popped it in and pressed play on my tape player. And the music that emerged from the speakers? Nothing I’ve heard before at the time. This was what I later learned was Heavy Metal. Not the shiny glam variety metal that I heard from time to time on the radio. This was not Motley Crue, not Poison, not Van Halen. No, this was from the old school, New Wave Of Heavy Metal camp that I had not heard of before. The playing went beyond the three-chords-and-a-hook formula, introducing me to actual musicianship. It was heavy, but darker sounding. And the lyrics were deeper than the usual glut of party good-time stuff. It forced me to think.

So, obviously I didn’t like it much at first. But, I did listen to the entire album straight through, front-to-back. And over time, the album grew on me. To the point of where it’s now one of my favorite nostalgic albums. Recently I got a copy of it on CD (again), and putting it in the car stereo, hearing the opening strains of “Caught Somewhere In Time” coming through the speakers took me back to those days, where I was young and just discovering metal beyond the bubblegum variety. Sure, many point to Somewhere In Time as not one of Iron Maiden’s strongest releases. But, this was my first introduction to the band, and also to proper Heavy Metal itself. Thus, it shall always have a place in my heart, and my METAL collection.



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YEAR OF METAL titleiron maiden logoOkay, so this may seem like too obvious of a choice, especially considering the relative obscurity of the first band I chose for the kick-off of this year-long series I’ve decided to do. But, really, does the fact that Iron Maiden is the arguably the biggest and most influential of the bands that emerged within the NWOBHM era disqualify them from being included? I’m not a Metal Hipster, really. I swear. Anyway, I happen to dig me some Iron Maiden, and though I do prefer the Bruce Dickenson-led version of the band (my first Iron Maiden album was Somewhere In Time, after all), at least I’m culling two-thirds of the three choice picks from the first two releases that feature Paul Di’Anno handling the vocals. Crank them up and enjoy.

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