Piece of Mind is without a doubt the first Iron Maiden album I considered “mine.” It’s not that the preceding releases were somehow inferior, but moreso that they just didn’t connect with me like this one. For starters, I discovered the first three Maiden albums through a family friend at the same time, somewhere around the release of Number of the Beast and the very same summer he turned me onto Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne simultaneously via Speak of the Devil and the Scorpions’ Blackout. Add to that the Eddie imagery and “devil worship” claims (along with some wildly inaccurate band stories from said friend), and you can imagine how it might have been a little much for a pre-teen living squarely in the Bible Belt in rural Mississippi. I was probably more than a little overwhelmed and couldn’t fully appreciate Iron Maiden, so I promptly dismissed them. Whatever the case, it’s funny that just one short year later, you would find me listening to the vinyl version of this album, completely engrossed in the music, album art, gatefold, and lyric sheet, soon on my way to becoming a full-fledged Maiden fan.
Having long since become a fan of the earlier albums, Piece of Mind is still one of my favorite Iron Maiden releases. It spawned two hits (if you can call any Iron Maiden song a hit), “The Trooper” and “Flight of Icarus,” both of which have become staples of the band’s setlist, and it is (understandably) considered essential listening for any metal fan by more than one music publication. It is a fantastic album as a whole, especially the first half, though I do sometimes find myself skipping over the last three songs if I’m not in the right mood.
Happy 30th Birthday, Piece of Mind!