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Blistering Song of the Day: Iron Maiden's "Public Enema Number One"

By: David E. Gehlke

Iron Maiden – “Public Enema Number One”
From 1990’s No Prayer For the Dying (EMI)

First things that come to mind in regards to No Prayer for the Dying? For starters, Dickinson stopped singing, basically, choosing some sort of grandma-croak that sounded good roughly 50% of the time. The loss of Adrian Smith was pretty big too, for apparently, he was the only one that could stand up to Steve Harris. And how could we not mention Janick Gers and his propensity to dance all the time? There’s a perfectly good reason why they leave him on the left side of the stage by himself…and his guitar is DEFINITELY turned off nowadays.

No Prayer For the Dying is hardly redeemable, with Maiden trying to make a run for their early, basic rock ‘n’ metal days and failing rather miserably, but “Public Enema Number One” can certainly hang. With soaring twin guitar harmonies in full swing and a devilish verse from Dickinson, the song is one of the few on No Prayer… that has a sense of urgency and vitality to it. Maybe it’s in the nifty Gers solo, or the sign-of-the-time lyrics that today, still resonate. Regardless, “Public Enema Number One” is a total left-field choice, but hey, it’s more fun to wax on these songs than the hits…


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