Queen's legacy: sex and drugs and rock'n'roll


Adam Sherwin
Monday 28 May 2012 01:49

They may not be the cultural highlights Her Majesty would have chosen to encapsulate her reign but a metallic tribute to Satan and a film about heroin addiction have been named the very best that Britain has produced, in a Diamond Jubilee poll.

Iron Maiden's heavy metal landmark The Number Of The Beast and the 1996 film Trainspotting are the surprise winners in an HMV survey to find the public's favourite British album and film produced during the Queen's 60 years on the throne.

Bruce Dickinson, the Iron Maiden singer, said he was "astonished and delighted" at the result of the poll, which was conducted via Facebook and attracted almost 55,000 votes over the past month.

Released in 1982, The Number Of The Beast spawned the top ten hit Run To The Hills and has sold 14 million copies. Its Book Of Revelations-quoting title track, inspired by the Omen II horror film, led to accusations that the band were Satanists.

Religious groups in the United States burnt copies of the album's cover, which featured the band's mascot Eddie toying with a marionette Satan.

Thirty years on however, Iron Maiden are pillars of the establishment. Their globe-straddling tours have turned them into one of the UK's most successful exports. Dickinson, a commercial pilot, plans to open an aviation centre in South Wales which will bring 1,000 jobs to the area.

It is unlikely that the Queen has seen the best British film released during her reign. Based on Irvine Welsh's novel and directed by Danny Boyle, Trainspotting starred Ewan McGregor as Renton, a member of a group of heroin addicts.

The dark comedy, set during the late 80s in an economically depressed area of Edinburgh, has been previously been ranked 10th by the British Film Institute in its list of the top 100 British films of all time. In 2004 it was voted the best Scottish film of all time.

Trainspotting emerged ahead of Monty Python and the Holy Grail in the poll, which suggested that British audiences prefer to leave cinemas with a smile on their face. Python's Life Of Brian also features in the top ten, which includes The Italian Job and comedy zombie film Shaun of the Dead.

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The music results suggest that the poll was targeted by online fan communities. Maiden's shock number number one kept Depeche Mode's 1990 album Violator off the top slot. Although it features the electronic act's big hit Enjoy The Silence, few would have placed Violator ahead of traditional poll toppers such as Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon, which do appear further down the top ten.

The 90s rank as the most popular decade for music, with 18 albums from this period making the overall top 60, just ahead of the 70s with 15.

Radiohead's OK Computer only makes number 17, well behind Adele's 21. But a regional breakdown of results showed that the Oxford band performed better among voters in London and the South East. Iron Maiden piled up votes in the South West whereas Manchester voters plumped for local heroes Elbow and The Smiths. Overall, the voters were overwhelmingly male.

Dickinson, 53, refused to let suggestions of a fan campaign cloud a triumph for Iron Maiden, who have consistently been over-looked for honours such as the Brit Awards Lifetime Contribution award. He said: "We're astonished and delighted to hear The Number of the Beast has been named No.1 in HMV's Diamond Jubilee survey for the greatest British album category. Iron Maiden is a proudly British band, so to win this category as voted for by the British public, in Jubilee year, is very special." An OBE, at the very least, surely now awaits.

Fans chose their favourites in the Facebook poll from 60 music and films choices selected by HMV staff.

HMV Diamond Jubilee Poll

Top Ten British albums of the past 60 years

1. Iron Maiden / The Number of the Beast

2. Depeche Mode / Violator

3. The Beatles / Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

4. The Beatles / Abbey Road

5. Pink Floyd / The Dark Side of the Moon

6. The Beatles / Revolver

7. Queen / A Night at the Opera

8. Oasis / (What's the Story) Morning Glory?

9. Adele / 21

10. The Beatles / White Album

Top Ten British films of the past 60 years

1. Trainspotting

2. Monty Python and the Holy Grail

3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two

4. Monty Python's Life Of Brian

5. A Clockwork Orange

6. 2001: A Space Odyssey

7. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

8. The Italian Job

9. Shaun Of The Dead

10. The Kings Speech

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