The year was 1979 when a particularly hacked-off Satan unleashed hordes of possessed metal musicians to wreak havoc on the popular music scene. Those familiar with this notorious period in the annals of rock music will know of the effect it would have in the UK and the rest of the unassuming world. It was christened the 'New Wave Of British Heavy Metal'.
This period of bloodthirsty excitement and incredibly loud and fast music spawned amongst others Def Leppard, Saxon and Venom. Some rock journalists would cite Venom as being the most influential metal band from that era, though few would argue against claims that Iron Maiden were – and perhaps still are - the most popular, commercially successful and world-domineering metal act.
The Early Years tenderly compiles a fantastic yet strenuous two-disc archive of Iron Maiden's early visual material, which rather like Led Zeppelin's 2003 self-titled DVD collection is surely a milestone in the young history of music DVDs.
It all begins with the superb 45-minute gig, Live At The Rainbow, recorded in 1980 shortly after the band signed to EMI. It was Iron Maiden's first ever video-titled gig and features later-to-be classics inculding Killers and Wrathchild. With Paul Di'Anno on vocals they deliver the goods with a typically raucous, aggressive and exciting performance.
Next comes the ludicrously titled Beast Over Hammersmith with Bruce Dickinson as the band's new front man. It was with Dickinson that the East-End Londoners achieved their greatest success. Dickinson hits the falsettos with ease and runs around the stage like an escaped madman proving himself to be vastly different to Di'Anno. The latter had much more of a punk, tougher attitude that was in many ways similar to Bon Scott while Dickinson favours Rob Halford-esque stage antics.
The final gig on the first disc is Live At Dortmund from 1983, which was part of the band's World Piece tour. It was a pivotal concert in Iron Maiden's youth which saw them kick out screamers such as The Trooper and Murders In The Rue Morgue. It's obvious to see why they went on to headline major metal and rock festivals and fill huge arenas worldwide.
However, the centrepiece of this collection is a documentary detailing the band's formation and history to 1983. Containing interviews with former and current band mates, ex-roadies, fan club members, rock journalists, record company executives and more, The Early Years is a remarkably insightful and meticulously researched documentary that will have hardcore fans literally sweating for more.
Other extras include a slightly slimmer Danny Baker presenting a short 20th Century Box programme on the band from 1981 and an ultra rare, never-seen-before home video recorded in 1980 of Maiden's gig at The Ruskin Arms pub in east London.
There are also performances from Top Of The Pops and Germany's Rock And Pop show, promotional videos, photo galleries, tour programmes, artwork and a discography.
It all amounts to an indispensable collection for Maiden fans; a great achievement in both the band's career and of their desire to give fans what they want. If this DVD was to be graded, it would get an A* without hesitation.