The history of Iron Maiden is surrounded by plenty of stories, which suscitate plenty of questions. Perhaps riding on the top of them is the question of whether any given copy of The Soundhouse Tapes (perhaps that very copy that you own, or the copy that you intend to buy) is genuine.
It's a rare item, to be sure, and there are a great number of fakes around, making the life of collectors, or simply die-hard fans, very difficult at times. Due to its one-time, 5,000-limited batch, copies of The Soundhouse Tapes ("TST" for short) have always fetched healthy (euphemism for expensive) prices, and it's pretty risky business to blindly trust sellers who ask for several hundreds of dollars when each says their own copy is authentic. Often sellers themselves, in all honestly, simply may not be aware that they have a fake item in their hands.
What is this page then? It's an attempt into giving a full step-by-step guide on how to spot the real The Soundhouse Tapes. Because the intention is to be thorough, this is a long page, with detailed information that may take you a good deal of time (and patience!) to go over. But I guarantee you that by the end of it, you will know if your copy is the real deal or not.
This website is loosely based on Olaf Greve's old website -- I should say it's influenced by it, rather. But his version has a few problems: first, it was last updated in February 1998, that is, it hasn't been updated in over 10 years (his Iron Maiden Heaven version, albeit more recent, has not changed even a comma from his old version). Secondly, there are a few mistakes there, which might pose a big problem for those who want to be sure the item they will buy, or have bought, is the real thing. Descriptions of TST are tricky, because every little dot counts (I'm not exaggerating -- read on and you'll see what I mean). Thirdly, my version has pictures that you can use to better visualize what the text descriptions are trying to explain. Last but not least, my version also has more information than any other website on the internet about how to spot a fake TST.
I have tried repeatedly to contact Olaf, but had no success. So, my version corrects Olaf's slight mistakes and adds a few additional information that may prove very helpful to the careful observer. I'm hoping this site will fill the gap and provide the most accurate information there is on the web regarding the full description of The Soundhouse Tapes and how to spot fakes. For those of you intrigued about the author, and who want to know who I am, click here.
It's quite easy, really. Read the descriptions and compare them with the version that you already have, or that you wish to purchase. You will see that next to each item, on the left, there is a picture. All of these pictures are clickable. So just click them to see a larger version. This will help you better understand what the descriptions are trying to show, and will enable you to visualize the point I am trying to make. You will see that I open each topic with a general description of the album part I'm explaining, and then continue to explain each of the items in more detail. At the bottom of this page there are few additional considerations & interesting facts, and also comparisons between real and fake TSTs (or among several types of fake TSTs) that are known to have been around.
So, without further ado, I give you...
1. The cover is made out of some sort of light, cardboard-like material, akin to what you see in your regular 12" LP, but not quite the same, because it is lighter. It is sturdier than simple paper, but not as heavy as pure cardboard.
2. The cover opens from the top. This is quite important, as many bootlegs and fake copies out there actually open from the side (see the Fakes section at the bottom of this page to see what I mean).
3. General: The front cover is comprised of a smooth, orange-coloured background with the name "Iron Maiden" on top, a picture of Steve Harris and Paul Di'Anno during a concert, and the title "The Sound house Tapes" below. All of these 3 items (logo, picture and album title) are aligned at the center of the album cover.
4. Color: the cover color is either a light red or a dark orange. Most people generally agree that it's dark orange. Please keep in mind that while your computer will give you an idea of what the cover looks like, colors still may vary slightly between a monitor display and tonalities as seen in real life.
5. Logo: "Iron Maiden" is written in the very first logo format, as created by Steve Harris when he was studying to be a draftsman at college. It is written in plain black letters, without any stroke around them, and "Iron" is on top of "Maiden". In respect to the cover album, they are aligned in the center, but in relation to one another, the words "Iron" and "Maiden" are aligned to the left (rather than centered).
6. Picture: the center-aligned picture shows a shirtless Paul Di'Anno at the center of the frame, with his left arm raised in a fist, and his right hand holding the microphone while he sings. To his left is Steve Harris, playing with his leopard-like vest, wielding his old, blue Fender bass. He wears a ring on the ring finger of his right hand. Across the stage, in front of Steve and Paul, is the crowd, their arms raised, most of them wearing blue jeans.
7. Title: below the picture described on item 6, "The Sound house Tapes" is written in a calligraphed manner, aligned at the center of the album cover. It is actually a slightly altered version of the font Monotype Corsiva.
Unlike the logo ("Iron Maiden"), which takes up less space than the picture width, the album titles exceeds said picture width. Notice how "Sound" and "house" are further apart than the other letters in these two words (but their distance is smaller than the one between "the" and "sound house", as well as the distance between "Sound house" and Tapes".
8. General: the back cover is comprised of an opening at the very top, side flaps, a row of pictures at the top, text and song descriptions, and finally another row of pictures.
9. Cutout at the top: this is one of the most important elements when distinguishing between a real and a fake TST.
- Firstly, the cover opens from the top (many fakes open from the side). See picture for item 2.
- Secondly, the cut out starts out with two slanted cuts at each side, and are linked by a curved shape (many fakes either have a plain curved or round shape, or no shape at all).
- Said curved shape almost touches Paul Di'Anno's picture right below it (the gap is so small that if you do not look close enough, you will be tempted to believe that it does touch Di'Anno's picture, when in truth there is a very slight filament of dark orange between the cutout and his picture).
- Finally, there is a wider gap between Dave's and Steve's picture than Di'Anno's, due to the cutout's aforementioned curved shape (many fakes do not make this distinction).
10. Side flaps: Another element that will rule out fakes upon a very first look. While most records will leave their side flaps inwardly in order to give the album a smooth look, The Soundhouse Tapes has two side flaps coming from the front cover that sort of "embrace" the back cover. Many fakes do not have the side flaps.
11. Side flap corners: Pay extremely close attention to all 4 side-flap corners. They should be slanted, i.e., cut diagonally inward, rather than simply form a 90-degree cut. Among the fakes that do have the side flaps, all four of the slanted cuts are not present in most of them.
The cutout at the top, the shape of the cutout, the side flaps and their slanted cuts are some of the most important elements in The Soundhouse Tapes cover. Do not go over them lightly.
12. Top-row pictures: right below the cut-out on the top, there is a row with 5 pictures of (in this order:) 1) Doug Sampson, 2) Dave Murray, 3) Paul Di'anno, 4) Steve Harris and 5) the band's drumkit standing on the stage where the band played, with what seems to be Doug Sampson in it. Under each picture, you can read the respective member names, except for the last picture. All names are handwritten. All pictures are in black & white.
3. Neal Kay text: The middle section of the back cover is divided between Neal Kay's review on Maiden and other info. This is what Neal Kay writes:
Every so often, one special band emerges from the
mass of untried and unknown hopefuls which fill the
streets of the Rock World. Iron Maiden is just one
such band, bringing with their emergence, a style of
Rock Music, so hard, gritty and honest in its delivery
that only success can justify their hard toil!
The tracks on this E.P. were the first ever recorded
by the band and are the authentic unremixed cuts taken
from the demo tape recorded at Spaceward studios in Cambridge
on December 30th 1978, and, subsequently presented to me
in The Soundhouse a week later.
After one hearing it was obvious that Iron Maiden
would become one of the leaders of present day heavy
metal, combining the sort of talent and hard drive that
the music world must not ever ignore.
All of it is written in black, in print-type letters, in Neal's own handwriting. The "Neal Kay" at the end is his signature. The only two words underlined in the text are "must" and "Neal Kay". His signature runs a little below his text, invading the space of the pictures below. Conveniently, the picture immediately under it is the only one in the record to run horizontally (all the others are vertical pictures).
14. Separating double-line: separating, in the middle section of the back cover, Neal Kay's review on the left from the song & art info on the right, is a double-line running vertically from under Steve Harris's picture down to the next-to-last picture on the bottom row. This double line stands closer to Steve's picture than to the picture below.
15. Song descriptions: On the right side of the middle cover section, you can find the songs recorded on the album. They read thus:
SIDE 1 [written in print letters, with a small font]
Iron Maiden [same calligraphed font as "The Sound house Tapes" on the front cover]
SIDE 2 [written in print letters, with a small font]
1. Invasion [same calligraphed font as "The Sound house Tapes" on the front cover]
2. Prowler [same calligraphed font as "The Sound house Tapes" on the front cover]
16. Pictures & artwork text: below the song titles there is a text written in a handwritten manner -- the very same one used on the text under the pictures (it is different from Neal Kay's). It reads:
Front photo:- Live At the
H.M. Soundhouse, Kingsbury.
taken by Rob Loonhouse.
Back photos by Chris Harler.
Label + Sleeve design +
artwork by Steve Harris.
This record is dedicated
to Maiden fans everywhe*
The end of the word "everywhere" has not been written so clearly, ending instead in a slight scrawl made up of an "r" and an "e" conjoined. Probably written that way for lack of space, but it's impossible to know for sure. Also, notice how "At" starts with a capital letter, even though the opening word is "Live".
17. Rockhard text: Under item 16, you can read the following:
ROCK HARD [written in a different, very thin font. This is not only in capital case, but also the font used is actually larger than "records"]
records [same thinnish font, but written in low case letters and also smaller than "ROCK HARD"]
Rok. 1. [handwritten by the same person who wrote the picture names. Notice that there is one period after "Rok", and one period after "1" (this doesn't happen on the record itself -- see items 27 and 38 below).
18. Bottom-row pictures: there are 5 pictures, all in black and white. Two are vertical pictures, the one in the middle is horizontal (the only horizontal picture on the entire cover) and the two remaining pictures are, again, in a vertical manner. They read, from left to right, in this exact order: "Maiden 'eadbangers" (under the first picture); "Live shots from the Music Machine." (under the 3 following pictures); "Rob Loonhouse" (under the 5th and last picture). Notice that, from all of the pictures, the only one whose text ends in a period is "Live shots from the Music Machine.".
19. General: black 7" vinyl with a red paper in the center. Writings on the paper are all in black. Markings etched on the vinyl..
20. Vinyl Color: The Soundhouse Tapes vinyl is made of a regular black. Fakes come in a variety of colors -- most common among them are yellow, red and blue (but there are also green, brown, purple and many others). The real TST, however, does not come in any color other than your regular black.
21. Paper Color: the paper on the center of the vinyl is made of a darker tone than the cover of the album. Whereas the cover is made of a dark orange, the paper on the vinyl exhibits an even darker shade, which most fans consider to be a combination of orange and red. The most important thing to realize is that the paper on the record has a darker color than the EP cover. This is a fairly crucial detail, as many fakes exhibit the same color on both the vinyl paper and on the album cover.
22. Curved text on top: on the upper side of the paper, there is a text written on a curved fashion that reads as follows:
all rights of the manufacturer and of the owner of the recorded work reserved.
This text is written in the same handwriting manner as on the back cover.
23. Iron Maiden: the "Iron Maiden" logo is written in the exact same manner as the one found on the cover (see item 5). All in black, no stroke, center-aligned on the paper, but left-aligned in respect to one another.
24. The Sound house Tapes: written in the same manner as in the front cover (see item 7): centered text written in a calligraphed font (slightly altered Monotype Corsiva), slight distance between the words "Sound" and "house".
25. Left side of the central hole: it reads, in this order:
SIDE 1 [handwritten in print-like letters]
..45 [boldface, in a font bigger than "RPM"]
RPM [boldface, capital letters, in a font smaller than "45"]
26. Right side of the central hole: It reads as follows:
(P) 1979 Rock Hard
Please notice that: 1) all of this text is handwritten; and 2) the periods at the end of both sentences are very small and faint, making it a very hard read. Some copies of the TST might be worn off, making it virtually impossible to identify said periods. You might have to use a magnifying glass to be able to see them. But they are there.
27. Immediately below the central hole: It reads as follows:
Iron Maiden [in the same calligraphed manner as the tracks written on the back cover]
(Steve Harris) [handwritten]
Produced By Iron Maiden. [handwritten]
ROCK HARD [in big, capital-case, boldface, 3D-like letters]
RECORDS [capital case letters in the same font as "The Sound house Tapes" album title]
ROK 1. [capital case letters, handwritten]
Notice that the track titles always use the same font. There is no period after "ROK" this time (only after "1") -- again, periods on the vinyl paper may prove to be a very hard read.
28. Curved text at the top bottom on the paper: on the top lower side of the paper, there is a text written on a curved fashion that reads as follows:
unauthorised public performance broadcasting and copying of this record prohibited.
The text is, again, much like its counter part on top of the paper, handwritten. Side 2 bears a particularity (see item 39 below).
29. Etchings on the vinyl in the run-off area: now, this is the single, most important element to ascertain whether your copy of The Soundhouse Tapes is real or fake. It is common knowledge that no fake copy has ever managed to get these etchings right, so it stands to reason that this is the ONE element that must be present no matter what. Others may be copied to a degree, but this, even though it may also be copied, given the present day's incredible technology, will confer a far greater reliability than any other item on this list. Please see also the description below for Side 2, for it carries a different set of markings.
In the run-off area, there are light markings that were handmade. Side 1 bears ONE OF THESE markings, etched on the black vinyl matrix:
Option 1: *EG* .......... SA .......... ROK - 1 - A .......... LYN 7627 - IT
Option 2: *EG* .......... SA .......... LYN 7627 - IT .......... ROK - 1 - A
Now, the following are extremely important:
The sequence "LYN 7628 - IT" is much lighter than the other etchings, and much more difficult to see and read, even under proper light.
The order of elements may change due to the fact that these were handmade (Chris Payne is usually believed to have been the first person to point this out). These two are the only marking sequence that I have heard of, and I don't know of a third one. If your copy is the real deal and has a different inscription ordering, please e-mail me right away with pictures.
All 4 elements MUST be present.
These markings are extremely difficult to catch in a photograph, and I've done the best I could with the camera I have.
Etchings on the groove area of side 1 as seen on option 2
- Pictures very kindly provided by Iron Maiden fan Gavin Mills "GlemsfordGav"
Apart from this very long detailing of The Soundhouse Tapes, there are a few things worth pointing out:
1. Some bootlegs are 12". The original Soundhouse Tapes is a 7" vinyl.
2. In the real The Soundhouse Tapes, the songs follow their course until the end, i.e., they do not fade. Many bootlegs have their tracks end in a fade out (the song "Prowler" is famous for its fade-out at 3:21, whereas the original whole song runs up to 4:23).
3. The etchings in the run-off area are remarkably important. Even though many bootlegs have tried to copy the original, their markings are usually limited to "ROK-1-A" and "ROK-1-B" on Side 1 and 2 of the record, respectively. There is a consensus in the Iron Maiden community that, to this date, no fake copy has ever been able to successfully reproduce all of the original markings with perfection. Fakes either do not carry said markings or they exhibit only one of their elements (see items 29 and 40). Even when they do bear markings, they usually are written in bigger letters on one of the Sides.
4. Some people consider an element of the real TST a little ridge -- a bump -- that's noticeable once you pass your finger up and down over the words "Rock Hard" and "records" on the record itself, side 1 and 2. However, I find that the ridge exists also on the upper part of the record, and is simply caused by the vinyl format, being easily copied by other versions, since vinyls are very similar in this respect. I didn't include in my full description above because I didn't consider it a definite, uncontroversial element of the album. But some people do refer to it.
5. The original copies, as sold in 1979, came with a merchandise insert. It is a regular white paper, slighty smaller in height than the TST, with merchandise information (at the time a copy of The Soundhouse Tapes was sold for £1.20 -- can you imagine yourself getting one of the 5,000 copies for a quid?). Most copies nowadays, however, are sold without this slip (presumably they were lost by their owners). Its absence does not mean a given copy of TST is a fake.
Picture kindly provided by Iron Maiden fan Jorge Almeida
6. There has been a great debate about copies of TST being sold without a cover. In the present day some sellers have been known to try and sell the TST record alone, sometimes together with a small receipt that presumably would entitle its owner to retrieve a TST cover later on (just to be clear: a receipt given back in 79, which would allow you to retrieve said cover in that year). For a long time it has been thought that these were fakes, but in reality it is not necessarily so. At the time the album was released (November 1979), not enough album covers were pressed, due to the great hype it caused, followed by the great demand that ensued. So, back in 79, some copies were given as a record alone (no cover), together with a receipt for later cover retrieval. Some owners in fact still carry said slips with them as a memento. Thus, while it is true that selling records alone without a cover, or with a receipt, rather than with a cover, might be more prone to bootlegging practices, these copies are not necessarily fake. As for the inserts per se, there are 3 known versions. Iron Maiden fan Ruben de Jong, owner of all 3 slips, sheds some light over the subject: "They are all made of paper-like material (not cardboard), often referred to as a lightweight, thin kind of paper, but I feel it's quite standard. However, if you simply print out copies or xerox them, they will have a slightly different texture."
7. The original pressing of The Soundhouse Tapes produced, exclusively, a limited batch of 5,000 7"-vinyls in 1979. There is no exception to this rule. However, this has led some people to easily dismiss CD copies of TST as mere bootlegs. But some of these are not bootlegs, but rather an official release. How? In 2002 Sony decided to reissue The Soundhouse Tapes on CD (thus making it an official release, properly pressed by the record label). This new CD reissue, however, was limited to 666 copies (or so the legend goes), available to the first 666 lucky people who managed to collect the special tokens included with the Iron Maiden remastered back catalogue re-issue. These first 666 people who managed to contact the label did get a copy of The Soundhouse Tapes on CD. Innumerable people, however, upon trying to get their hands on one of these copies, had no success, and the record label simply sent them a letter back saying there were no more available copies. Therefore, there are a few CD copies of TST that constitute an official release. But of course, much the same way fakes were created for the 7" vinyl of TST, fakes were also made in an attempt to copy the 666 limited copy official CD released -- and these abound! The full description of the official item, however, deserves another web page. Which one day I may feel inclined to make, but for now this page you're reading is limited to the vinyl version of TST only.
8. Regarding the etchings on the vinyl's run-off area, it is generally believed that Chris Payne was the first person to point it out when establishing the authenticity of a real TST. As legends get out of control sometimes, at some point I was actually under the impression that it was Chris himself who had inscribed those marks on the vinyl, but I was mistaken. He was kind enough to write me in December, 2010, to clarify the misunderstanding:
[...] Back in the early days, information on the true TSHT versions was hard to come by. I had an original, and it was confirmed from Keith (the guy who ran the fan club back then) that my vinyl was indeed an original. I was simply the first person to provide a very detailed description of the entire package of the item....including being the first person to report the true runoff markings on the vinyl. [...]
- Chris Payne
[Note: by "Keith", Chris was referring to Keith Wilfort, head of the official Iron Maiden Fan Club from 1979 to 1996 -- nowadays the IMFC is run by Steve Lazarus.]
Below you can see a few fake copies, so you may compare them with the original TST::
Cut-out at the top is present, with slanted cuts, but the round shape that links them is faulty, giving no gap between Dave's and Steve's pictures (see item 9). Also, it appears that only one of the 4 side flap corners is correctly cut (slant cut
The information and the pictures on this page are kindly provided by Kenny Haggen
More information and details you can find on Kenny's page