The Soundhouse Tapes are the very first recordings of Iron Maiden. This record features three of the original four songs from the Spaceward demo tape which was recorded in one 24-hour session on 31st December 1978. (The studio would normally be empty over New Year, and the band was able to haggle for a cheap price). The fourth song of the set, "Strange World", was not included on The Soundhouse Tapes because the band was a bit unhappy with its recording quality. Consequently, the Spaceward version of "Strange World" was not released until years later for the Best Of The Beast compilation.
The Soundhouse Tapes was a critical element of Iron Maiden's future success, and was instrumental in eventually acquiring a record contract with EMI. It was released independently on the Rock Hard Records label, a name coined from a Rod Smallwood: idea "If it ain't Rock Hard, it ain't worth a fuck." Neal Kay, the infamous Soundhouse D.J. composed the sleeve notes, which read as follows:
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.
Because only 5,000 copiesof The Soundhouse Tapes were made, they havebecome the "Holy Grail"for Iron Maidencollectors. The7"vinyl E.P.was only available through directmail order, andwere quickly sold out. Although several record companies placed orders for 20,000 copies each, the band decided to refuse, feeling that cashing in at that time would have destroyed the magic of The Soundhouse Tapes. Note that Dave Murray did all of the guitar tracks forThe Soundhouse Tapes, as the band was experiencing problems finding a second guitarist that could match Dave's abilities.
Due to the extreme rarity of this record, there are quite a few bootleg versions floating around and Maiden collectors should take extreme caution to make sure that they only purchase an original.
This is the first recorded version of what would become Iron Maiden's trademark song. This recording is much more raw than the version that eventually ended up on the first album, with a slower tempo that almost seems to drag a bit in places. However, it exhibits the raw power and energy of the early Iron Maiden recordings.
"Invasion" is another of Harris's early compositions, and was first recorded here on the Soundhouse Tapes. It is a great song about a Viking invasion, which was later released as a b-side to the Women In Uniform single, and which later evolved into "Invaders" on the Number Of The Beast album. This original version of "Invasion" has a slightly slower tempo than the later version, but is every bit as good.
This is the earliest version of "Prowler", a classic Iron Maiden song with an incredibly catchy tune. It was later re-recorded at a faster tempo for the Iron Maiden album, which improved somewhat on this raw version whose slower tempo seems to drag in places. Dave Murray's great guitar solo is here though, along with the raw energy that characterised Maiden's earliest recordings.