"Aces High" is a song written by Steve Harris. It is Iron Maiden's eleventh single and the second from the 1984 album Powerslave. The song tells the story of a British RAF pilot fighting against the German Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain (1940), the first battle to be completely fought in the skies. The song topped at number 20 on the UK Singles Chart.
The song was a frequent concert opener and it was usually preceded by "Churchill's speech", a part of a famous speech that the British Prime Minister gave during World War II, on 4 June 1940, two days after the French defeat and general retreat from France's lost battlefield with French and Belgian remaining troops gathered at Dunkerque. Despite being popular amongst fans, the song is rarely played live. It has only been played during the World Slavery Tour and The EdHuntour, Live After Death and Somewhere Back In Time World Tour.
The b-side "King of Twilight" is actually a cover of two songs by Nektar combined into one track. The two tracks are "Crying in the Dark" and "King of Twilight". Both songs appear on their "A Tab in the Ocean" EP. The live version of "The Number of the Beast" was recorded on 18th December 1983 in Dortmund, Germany. It is the same version as the one found in 12 Wasted Years.
The music video for "Aces High" features archive footages of Winston Churchill's speech, Allied troops in everyday life, real dogfights between RAF and Luftwaffe, black & white animated battle maps and even a brief appearance of Hitler speaking. A newer version of the video (available on the Visions of the Beast DVD) replaces the old footage with Flash animation by Camp Chaos, featuring the band and Eddie fighting Luftwaffe planes over Egypt. In the final scene of this video, after Eddie destroys the last German plane, the parachuting pilot is revealed to be Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich, who has been parodied by Camp Chaos on their Napster Bad! series.
Recently, the band have been playing the song as the opening song during the Somewhere Back In Time World Tour 2008. The song is also in the game Carmageddon 2.
A cover version is found on the tribute album Numbers from the Beast, featuring Jeff Scott Soto on vocals, Nuno Bettencourt on guitars, Billy Sheehan on bass guitar, and Vinny Appice on drums. Although following the original scheme, the song is clearly marked by Bettencourt's distinctive style, and he has added variations on the original guitar patterns in several places.
The song was covered by Finnish melodic death metal band Children of Bodom on their album Hatebreeder.
Arch Enemy covered the song on their album Wages of Sin.
The all-female tribute band The Iron Maidens recorded a cover of the song on their self-titled debut album.
Bruce Dickinson - vocals
Dave Murray - guitar
Adrian Smith - guitar, backing vocals
Steve Harris - bass guitar, backing vocals
Nicko McBrain - drums
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