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"The Trooper" is Iron Maiden's ninth single, released on 20 June 1983, and the second from their 1983 album Piece of Mind. It was one of only a few songs to get much radio airplay in the US, thus peaking at No. 28 on the US Mainstream Rock charts.[1] It also achieved success in the UK, peaking at No. 12 in the UK Singles Charts as well as gaining a much better reception than the band's previous single, "Flight of Icarus".[2]

ContentsEdit

 [hide*1 Overview

Overview[edit]Edit

[1][2]Bruce Dickinson performing the song live wearing a "red coat" styled military smock.

Written by bassist and founder-member Steve Harris, the song is based on the Charge of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava 1854, which took place during the Crimean War,[2] and inspired by Lord Tennyson's poem of the same name.[3] The track has been the subject of much praise since its release, with AllMusic describing it as "an all-time genre classic that boasts [guitarists Dave Murray] and [Adrian Smith's] most memorable harmonized lead riff, plus that trademark galloping rhythm,"[4] while Mick Wall comments that it is the song "which most Maiden fans from those days still recall first when you mention the Piece of Mind album."[5]

The single's accompanying music video included clips of a cavalry battle from the 1936 film the Charge of the Light Brigade, starring Errol Flynn,[6] which the BBC refused to play unedited, deeming the footage too violent.[2] The band's manager, Rod Smallwood, has since criticised the decision, stating, "Anyone would think we'd killed the horses ourselves instead of using an old Errol Flynn movie."[2]

A regular fixture in the band's concerts, vocalist Bruce Dickinson has always waved a Union Flag during live performances and, more recently, has begun wearing an authentic red coat uniform which would have been worn during the battle on which the song was based.[7] During a performance in Dublin in 2003, Dickinson's flag-waving reportedly received a large amount of booing from the Irish audience.[8]

While the band were receiving criticism from Sharon Osbourne in 2005, at the time justifying her attack on the band at the 2005 Ozzfest, she accused Iron Maiden of disrespecting American troops, then fighting alongside the British in Iraq, for waving a Union Flag in the US, although Classic Rock magazine supported the band by pointing out that the song's subject bore no relation to the military activity then taking place in the Middle East.[7]

In popular culture[edit]Edit

The song has appeared in several Iron Maiden tribute albums, including A Call To Irons: A Tribute To Iron Maiden,[9] Numbers from the Beast,[10] A Tribute to the Beast[11] and Maiden Heaven: A Tribute to Iron Maiden,[12] as well as on records by tribute bands such as Maiden uniteD (on 2010's Mind the Acoustic Pieces)[13] and The Iron Maidens (on their 2006 self-titled debut album).[14] In addition, the song has been released by Sentenced on The Trooper EP (1994),[15] Hellsongs on Hymns in the Key of 666 (2008),[16] Thumper on the Metalliskacompilation,[17] Highland Glory as a bonus track on Forever Endeavour (2005),[18] Radio Cult on Grooves From The Grave (2008),[19] Stryper on The Covering[20] and Iced Earth on the "tour edition" of their 2011 album, Dystopia.[21]

On top of this, the track has also been included in the Guitar Hero 2Carmageddon 2 and Rock Band video games,[22][23] is mentioned in the novel World War Z by Max Brooks and is currently being used as the opening theme for the documentary series Metal Evolution.

Northern Ireland[edit]Edit

[3][4]Eddie the Head from "The Trooper" sleeve used on a mural in Ballymena

During the course of the Troubles in Northern Ireland the image of Eddie the Head as he appeared on the sleeve of "The Trooper" became an unofficial mascot of the Ulster Freedom Fightersloyalist paramilitary group and was the main figure on a number of the group's murals. The loyalist representation frequently carried a tattered flag with the emblem of the Ulster Defence Association rather than the Union Flag as on the Iron Maiden sleeve.[24][25]

Track listings[edit]Edit

1983 single[edit]Edit

  1. "The Trooper" (Steve Harris) – 4:10
  2. "Cross-Eyed Mary" (Jethro Tull cover; Ian Anderson) – 3:55

2005 CD[edit]Edit

  1. "The Trooper" (live - Westfallenhalle Arena, Dortmund, Germany 24 November 2003) (Harris) – 4:12
  2. "The Trooper" (Harris) – 4:10
  3. "Prowler" (live - Egilshollin, Reykjavík, Iceland 7 June 2005) (Harris) – 4:24
  4. VIDEO - "The Trooper" (live video) (Harris) – 4:12
  5. VIDEO - "The Trooper" (original video) (Harris) – 4:10

2005 7" Blue Vinyl[edit]Edit

  1. "The Trooper" (live - Westfallenhalle Arena, Dortmund, Germany 24 November 2003) (Harris) – 4:12
  2. "Another Life" (live - Egilshollin, Reykjavík, Iceland 7 June 2005) (Harris)

2005 12" Picture Disc[edit]Edit

  1. "The Trooper" (live - Westfallenhalle Arena, Dortmund, Germany 24 November 2003) (Harris) – 4:12
  2. "The Trooper" (Harris) – 4:10
  3. "Murders in the Rue Morgue" (live - Egilshollin, Reykjavík, Iceland 7 June 2005) (Harris)

Personnel[edit]Edit

Production credits are adapted from the 7 inch vinyl cover.[26]

Iron Maiden
Production

Charts[edit]Edit

Single Chart (1983) Peak

position

Album
"The Trooper" Irish Singles Chart 12[27] Piece of Mind
UK Singles Chart 12[28]
Single Chart (1990) Peak

position

Album
"Flight of Icarus / The Trooper" UK Albums Chart[note 1] 7[29]
Single Chart (2005) Peak

position

Album
"The Trooper" (live) Canadian Singles Chart 5[30] Death on the Road
Danish Singles Chart 7[31]
Finnish Singles Chart 5[32]
French Singles Chart 100[33]
Irish Singles Chart 16[27]
Italian Singles Chart 8[34]
Spanish Singles Chart 1[35]
Swedish Singles Chart 5[36]
Swiss Singles Chart 61[37]
UK Singles Chart 5[38]
Single Chart (2006) Position Album
"The Trooper" (live) Spanish Singles Chart 10[35] Death on the Road
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