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Accelerated Evolution

Iron Maiden Update!


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After our first week of knuckling down and beginning to cut basic tracks, we had a very interesting second week. We've cut 10 long songs for the new album, as well as four songs for B sides, which show quite an interesting side to the band. Don't worry, there's nothing like the "interesting-or-maybe-not" B sides which were all that were left over for the Dance of Death singles. These are great cover versions with a terrific and humourous spirit!

Nicko was due to wrap up the album drum tracks this week, which he did - celebrating the end of each new take with very fine and expensive French wines - some Margaux, some Chateau Palmer - you get the idea. Because I join in the celebrations, I bought some wonderful £3.99 Australian Shirazes, which I cunningly decanted before serving them up to our esteemed battery-boy! He seemed to enjoy them JUST as much, and seemingly didn't notice the changes in varietals, regions or vintages! I know a little of wine, as I owned a wonderful cellar of French wines myself, which I sent to auction late last year, as I never got to my house, and the bottles were running a serious risk of becoming thousands of dollars worth of vinegar - and I didn't mind the young Aussie drop at all!

Anyhoo, the spirit in the band is as high as I've ever seen. Wing Commander Biggles (as I call Bruce) is running around like a chicken with it's head cut off, singing every take live, like it was his last - 'Arry, or Steve is sounding better than I've ever heard since I began producing the band, galloping along very strongly - and the material is definitely the "groovingest" in a decade. The songs are very progressive, with catchy choruses and I have to confess to being VERY optimistic about the material. The Three Amigos are roaring in their guitar booths, and I have been running around with a video camera, capturing the session as it unfolds, which has been annoying the fuck out of Janick, but as he bought me beers in the pub all night long last night (a first!), he can't be too annoyed at me! Anyway, you'll get to see his "bad time of the month" tantrums on the next behind-the-scenes DVD, as well as some stunning acoustic playing he's delivered! Davey is as amiable as ever, playing flowing leads seemingly effortlessly; and Adrian is as concerned as ever - he really is the worry-wort of the sessions. Always quizzing guitar tones, song tempos and second guessing his amazing performances, which are always the most precise of the 3. His wife tells him to go fishing to chill out, which she assures me, calms him down!

We've had a few guests in - Nicko went out with Manuel from Fawlty Towers -I think his name is Andrew Sachs - and then he came by with his rather attractive brunette daughter, to watch me putting the finishing touches to a B side song.

Thursday, Jimmy Page dropped by to see me, and I dragged him into the studio, where all the band were in their positions busy playing, and they had no idea he was coming and were very happily surprised! Jimmy still is the consumate rock star/legend/icon he's always been! And of course, my beloved son Josh, has been watching the sessions unfold, as he sits quietly in the corner doing line drawings of Eddie on pads of foolscap, before he heads out to the pub with his buddies, and fake ID in his pocket! He's the only one who's been allowed to watch the sessions - and he thinks the material is awesome. He's a big fan of Avenged Sevenfold and Chiodos, so...... I think it's going to be a mighty album!

Last night, the 3 Amigos, Wing Commander Biggles and myself (and many Sanctuary personnel) were part of a pub crawl to bid farewell to Jackie da Costa, who's been part of the Maiden camp for some time; and then Biggles and his wife, myself and Mrs. Smith went to dine at the up-yer-bum establishment that is The Electric, on Portabello Road. Adrian was being dad and fishing (?), Nicko had a wisdom tooth removed, and was by all accounts "well out of it!" and didn't make it, and 'Arry "hates that shit" and avoided the two hour drive from Harlow just to drink on St. Paddys Day! So, while Mrs. Smith and Dickinson pretentiously dined on fish and white wine at our fabby, if horribly smoky dinner, I had a burger and a Coke, and Bruce had beer, broccoli florettes and ketchup, and french fries! He insisted that the Lycopene and anti-oxidants were all part of an all-round healthy diet! It was just a classy affair all 'round, really!!

Next, I'm in the process of going through all the takes, selecting the best ones, then the band will be in mid-week to begin the overdubbing phase.

And that's it from Maiden Central - KevTheCave signing off 'til next week....... Up The Irons!

It really is Looney Tunes - and th-th-that's all folks!

--

Kevin Shirley

Caveman Productions Inc.

www.cavemanproductions.com

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Diary of an album - part 2

It's another Friday, and time for another weekly update on the progress of the album. Thanks for all the e-mails, lads - but really,I'd prefer it if you got your girlfriends to write too!

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Back to work. Monday saw me alone in the studio, going through the tracks and picking the performances, editing and fixing up the few blatant stinkers where necessary. Nicko has left the building, for the sunny shores of Miami, Flahdah - and kindly left us all with his stinkin' lurgy, so there's much coughing and sputtering around the console!

Tuesday, all the lads came in and I played them rough mixes of all the basic tracks, and they're sounding incredible (even Adrian was thrilled!) - then we went through who's doing what guitar solos where, where the Three Amigos are playing harmony melodies, where keys would play melody and pad - and the album is a terrific Iron Maiden album - full of trademark gallops and canters, hard rocking choruses - perhaps a little more tough prog riffing spirited about than on record lately, and definitely a couple of well grounded groovers in there too. Long melodic intros abound and the rocker that's probably the single, is as tough as it gets on radio. There's one about a famous eccentric and novelist, who's memorabilia is sensitively distributed throughout the studio for inspiration. It turns out that Janick is a bit of an avid collector and an anorak about this fellow, and he isn't Pawtucket Pat!! We call the song, The Rime Of Billy Bunter!

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Wing Commander Biggles has been absent all week - flying sorties to Egypt and Sierra Leone.

'Arry been in a fine mood as his beloved West Ham are through to the quarter finals of the F.A. Cup, although we did have a loud and heated argument about a guitar harmony (it wasn't a debate) - he insists he's right, but I know I am! I pedantically threw out "I've studied classical composition" to which he maturely countered with "well, I don't give a toss as I've studied rockabilly!" Anyway, you had to be there and the moment will forever be shrouded in the mists of time....but most importantly the harmonies came out AMAZING, and I know I'm right! If he needs to say otherwise, he can do the damn diary! Well, we all want the best record possible - and then some! Here are some pictures of his rig - and the bass on this album is the best sounding it's been in years - not that he's doing anything different - but I certainly have! It's definitely going to be the best Maiden record since the great Martin Birch left the dark and dingy control room for greene r fairways. That's genius.......

As I mentioned, the Three Amigos were in yesterday, doing guitar melodies on a couple of songs - their lilting tones playing along the sing-a-long tunes that only 'Arry can write, and Davey put a solo over one that just lifted it into the stratosphere - with a Celtic lilt to get Steven Hawkins doing the jig! Today, I'm just waiting for Davey, who's going to do some more soloing, and we're moving along with him (not that he's in a rush), as his family are all in Hawaii and he must be looking forward to spending time with them, before the Maiden trucks roll out for the tour at year's end!

Anyhoo, that's it for this week - there's actually not that much to say - because that's what making a record is. The same slog and grind day after day. I only do it, because i can't do anything else!! If I raise the seat on my bicycle, I invariably strip the thread - even though I always have. My dad used to yell at me about being more sensitive, but I just don't know when to stop.........

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Gotta give a shout out to me boys - both great engineers! That's newbie Alexon the left, and Drew, whos worked with me on Maiden's Dance Of Death, Death On The Road, and the Live After Death surround mixes, as well as the Led Zeppelin DVD, How The West was Won, Silvertide mixes and many more!

Until later...........KS

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