I love that feeling when you’re just pottering about, and an absolute belter comes on the radio and you have to stop what you’re doing, or at least incorporate some head bopping into your task. Even one of these happenstances a day can cheer me right up.
Today’s metal mental refresh came courtesy of Iron Maiden, via Planet Rock (other rock stations are available) which I was sneakily listening to while doing some exceedingly tedious reports. It’s a few seconds before I realise my eyes have glazed over and my fingernails are tapping out the guitar riff on the curve of the mouse.
Charge of the Light Brigade
I’d love to say this track takes me back to 1983, but the truth is I was a wee bit too small to remember this song the first time around, and I probably came to Maiden about 1990, via an old cassette tape of Killers which I, ahem, borrowed from my parents’ collection. In awe at tracks like The Ides of March and Murders in the Rue Morgue, I soon sought out more, and The Trooper was one of those songs that has stuck with me from that point onwards.
There probably aren’t too many songs based on 19th century battles, certainly outside the folk genre, anyway. It’s a real skill that Maiden have, to take a pretty controversial topic and turn it into a killer (pun intended) tune with some of the catchiest hooks known to man. This particular offering comes from bassist Steve Harris, who took inspiration from the Tennyson poem Charge of the Light Brigade. The video for the track had footage of the 1936 Errol Flynn film of the same name, which the BBC found ‘too violent’; how the world has changed in 35 years!
The Battle of Balaclava was a bloody and desperate affair, and as the lyrics state ‘on this battlefield, no one wins’. There were almost equal casualties on both sides. Without getting political, there is some clear resonation with current events if you dig deep, another sign of a great, well-crafted song.
And those guitar harmonies… so beautiful! This track is a four-minute oasis in a rather busy day that leaves me smiling for a good while after.