By Steve Newton
Back in June of 1983 I did a phone interview with Bruce Dickinson in advance of Iron Maiden’s show in Vancouver on the Piece of Mind tour.
During the course of our conversation Dickinson claimed that it would be “unthinkable” for Iron Maiden to make an album without producer Martin Birch, who had helmed the previous Killers and The Number of the Beast LPs.
As any devoted Maiden fan knows, the unthinkable happened six albums later when Birch failed to produce the band’s 1995 The X Factor album–the first to feature singer Blaze Bayley in place of Dickinson.
That’s because Birch had retired in 1992, after coproducing Maiden’s Fear of the Dark with bassist Steve Harris.
Kevin Shirley has produced the last five Maiden albums, along with Harris, and they’ve sounded pretty damn good, so the “unthinkable” ain’t always so bad, I guess.
But Martin Birch still rules as arguably the greatest hard-rock/metal producer of all time. He’s helmed some of my fave albums, including Black Sabbath‘s Heaven and Hell, Rainbow’s Rising, and Blue Oyster Cult‘s Fire of Unknown Origin.
He also engineered Deep Purple‘s Machine Head, so maybe that’s where you recognize his name from.