Following the controversy of Sanctuary, Iron Maiden couldn’t help but once again show England’s then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, on the cover of their follow-up single Women In Uniform. Presented in classic Maiden-style artwork, Thatcher is seeking revenge on the beloved, but sinful, Maiden mascot Eddie. As mentioned previously, this type of iconic artwork is all tongue-in-cheek, but it does demonstrate the attitude of the times in which this single was released.
Although, it is important to note that Women In Uniform is not a Maiden original as it was first written and recorded by the Australian band Skyhooks, for their Guilty Until Proven Insane album. While Skyhooks is an Australian rock icon, and certainly a band that I have much respect for, I don’t particularly like their original composition of Women In Uniform. I find the Skyhook’s rendition is a little too pop driven and only truly becomes a rock song during the memorable chorus. It is simply missing that harder edge that I feel Maiden was able to bring to the song. That said, if Maiden hadn’t covered the song, I likely would have been smitten with the Skyhooks original.
While I feel the Maiden version is superior, it is widely regarded by the band, especially founder and bassist Steve Harris, as being a substandard recording due to Tony Platt (producer) mixing the song without the band’s input or approval. As a result, the song was only briefly presented on the original Australian release of Killers. Following the 1998 enhanced re-issue, Women In Uniform was removed from the track listing and subsequently only available hence forth on the 2014 re-issued 7-inch vinyl release. Women In Uniform was also featured on the now out-of-print Best of the 'B' Sides, that was included in Eddie’s Archive Box Set.
Women In Uniform has yet to be released on any streaming service, but the video clip is available for purchase on iTunes as it goes down in history as being their first recorded music video.
Iron Maiden has also made the song available, on their official YouTube channel, for those of you who don’t wish to purchase the 7-inch vinyl edition.
Paul Di’Anno, Maiden’s original vocalist, not only recorded the original but would go on to cover his own cover again in 2006 when he released the re-recorded compilation album The Classics: The Maiden Years. This album is not available for streaming, but you can hear the Di’Anno’s re-recording on TIDAL Hi-Fi or Apple Music as it appears on the The Early Iron Maiden Songbook album from 2010. Di’Anno also released the song on his 2012 release, Wrathchild – The Anthology.
I’m not sure how I really feel about re-recordings. Generally, they are released as a quick cash-grab and opportunity to return to popularity on the coattails of success, in this case Iron Maiden’s. That said, Di’Anno does a wonderful job with Women In Uniform and all other tracks that are presented on the before mentioned albums. They truly are worth seeking out and listening to.
So, is Di’Anno’s re-recording better than the original he recorded with Iron Maiden in 1980?
Yes, and no! Clearly, Di’Anno’s newer release has a stronger rock edge to it and over the years his vocal delivery has developed, thereby bringing this re-recording inline with modern hard rock and metal recording styles. However, there is just something special about the Maiden original. It has their early raw sound that is reminiscent of a thoroughly pleasing live performance. That said, I don’t think you can wrong with either version.
The B-side on this 7-inch release contains the song Invasion. Unfortunately, the song is not available for those of you interested in streaming, but you can check it out on Maiden’s official YouTube channel below.
The song Invasion was originally released on Maiden’s debut EP, The Soundhouse Tapes. The EP is highly sought after by collectors and is ludicrously expensive, even for the most dedicated Maiden fans. That said, if you have a copy and would like to part with it, please let me know.
Invasion is classic Maiden and I would go as far as saying it was a stronger performance than their cover of Women In Uniform. The drum track and guitar riffs are exquisite and show a band that was well beyond their debut in terms of musicality and cohesion.
For the vinyl collectors out there, the 7-inch edition is still available and well worth owing. The pressing offers one of the best sonic representations of the band to date, although my only comparison for these particular songs is listening via the lossy YouTube quality, hence it is difficult to accurately compare.