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“Aces High” is a song by the English heavy metal band Iron Maiden, written by the band’s bassist Steve Harris. It is Iron Maiden’s eleventh single release and the second from their fifth studio album, Powerslave (1984).
The first B-side is a cover of Nektar’s “King of Twilight”, from their 1972 album A Tab in the Ocean. Their cover is actually a medley of the songs “Crying in the Dark” and “King of Twilight”, the last two songs on the album. The Japanese 12″ was mixed with the B-side covers from “The Trooper” & “2 Minutes To Midnight” singles.
The song’s lyrics are written from the viewpoint of a British RAF pilot fighting during the Battle of Britain (1940), the first military engagement to be fought entirely with aircraft. The artwork depicts the band’s mascot, Eddie the Head, in the cockpit of a Supermarine Spitfire, one of the principal aircraft to participate in that battle.
“Aces High” is one of Iron Maiden’s most popular songs, and has been covered numerous times. It is featured in the video game Madden NFL 10, the MTV show Nitro Circus, and Steve Peat’s segment in the mountain bike film New World Disorder III. Colin McKay used the song on his part of the skate video Plan B Questionable. It can also be found in the soundtrack of the game Carmageddon II: Carpocalypse Now.
“Aces High” is frequently used as the opening song for Iron Maiden concerts. As seen in concert videos such as Live After Death and Iron Maiden: Flight 666, it is usually preceded by Winston Churchill’s “We shall fight on the beaches” speech with the sound of planes in the background. Churchill’s speech was also included at the beginning of the song’s music video.
In a 2014 interview with Q magazine, Gerard Way said that “the live version of ‘Aces High’ off the Live After Death album was the song that first made [him] interested in performing live.”
“Aces High” has been performed on five Iron Maiden Tours (World Slavery Tour, The Ed Hunter Tour, Somewhere Back In Time World Tour, Maiden England World Tour and Legacy of the Beast World Tour). It was the opener to all five tours in which it was performed except for the Maiden England World Tour where it was moved to the encore.
– Bruce Dickinson – vocals
– Dave Murray – guitar
– Adrian Smith – guitar
– Steve Harris – bass guitar
– Nicko McBrain – drums
– Martin Birch – producer, engineer
– Derek Riggs – cover illustration