Nicko McBrain's Iron Maiden debut: creative, powerful and clear
I walk back my claim that Nicko sounded unprecedentedly crystalline on No Prayer for the Dying.
He did so seven years earlier on Piece of Mind.
Excited to have joined the band and experienced in non-metal acts, Nicko brought creativity and groove to his debut in Iron Maiden.
Piece of Mind kicks off with a short drum solo—now a go-to fill for budding metal drummers—portending heavenly thundering for the next 45 minutes. "New Drummer Nicko McBrain leaves good impressions with his brilliant drum intro, which continues throughout the track," wrote Sputnik Music. The creative highlight is a missing snare drum during Still Life at 3:09. The floor tom throughout Flight of Icarus is another high point. Overall, his cymbals and drums are Permanent Waves clear.
Nicko played with Maiden on a few occasions before joining officially, replacing the previous drummer Clive Burr when necessary. He would play disguised as Eddie, the band's skeleton mascot.
The best live recording from the World Piece Tour is from Dortmund, Germany in December 1983.
The concert was part of the Rock Pop Festival that also had Judas Priest, Ozzy Osborne and Scorpions.
Iron Maiden did play Wratchchild and Hallowed Be Thy Name but these tracks are sadly not in the video. The tour's routine setlist included several songs that are also missing: Where Eagles Dare, To Tame a Land, Die With Your Boots On, guitar and drum solos, and a much longer version of Drifter.
Piece Of Mind album setlist:
Where Eagles Dare Revelations Flight of Icarus Die With Your Boots On
Quest for Fire
Sun and Still
To Tame a Land
The b-sides from the Piece of Mind era are Jethro Tull's Cross-Eyed Mary and I've Got the Fire from Montrose. The latter was better with drummer Clive Burr and singer Paul Dianno.
"McBrain's ability to duplicate the complex patterns of the guitar and bass riffs gives the band a seamless ensemble unity," wrote Steve Huey at AllMusic.
"Just as Dickinson turned the start of Beast into a showcase as to why he was the one for the job, the arresting, tom-filled opening of “Where Eagles Dare” does the same for McBrain," wrote Andy O'Connor for PitchFork. "He is more crisp and fluid, like a relaxed Neil Peart but every bit as ecstatic."