For Christmas 2012, Mike gave me Bruce Dickinson’s Chemical Wedding album (in the bonus version, of course). As if that wasn’t stupendously awesome enough, he packed it with a CD-R of his own picks of the best of the rest of Dickinson’s solo work. Must’ve been a tough job, because every track here is a killer. I can’t be arsed to look up which album each track came from, but you fans of Bruce Bruce will know. I don’t even know how Mike put this together – is it chronological? Random? Oh well, really, it hardly matters. They’re all great.
Son Of A Gun is a helluva howler. What a riff! And could I be forgiven for thinking Tattooed Millionaire was a Def Leppard song (with some AC/DC vocals on the verses)? Haha awesome. Now listen, he’s blasting away at rich rock stars in this one… so, does Bruce have any tattoos? Be interesting to know… Next up is the acoustic intro of the autobiographical Born In ’58, which quickly builds into a solid rocker with acoustic breakdowns. I like it! Very 80s sounding.
Sin City brings the heavy rock riffing and doesn’t let up. Again with the AC/DC vocals – fun when he scream-sings instead of his usual ‘air raid siren’ vocals. I could almost hear Van Halen covering this one? The Breeding House totally sounds like it should be on the soundtrack of an 80s film where the whole point of the movie is they fly fighter jets really fast and all the pilots have Daddy issues. C’mon Mr. Cruise, time for Top Gun 2? Wait, now. Please no. I’m SO sorry I typed that… I didn’t mean it… don’t actually do it…
Change Of Heart is the softest track here so far… I loved the noodling guitar lines in the background. Of course, at the chorus the sound picks up a bit heavier, but it’s the lighter parts here that work best. Mixed nicely into that one is the acoustic intro of Tears Of The Dragon that, well, it follows the Maiden template. You know the one. Gentle to fast, back again. This one even has a really great guitar solo part (starts around 4:18) that really swings. Whole song could have been that bit, frankly, and still been awesome. I liked this track a lot.
Back From The Edge brings back the rawk. It’s a good track, but it’s a bit of an assault on the senses, there’s so much (too much?) going on all at once. It’s almost like the band had so many good ideas for the track and wanted to wedge them all in there. On the good headphones, this one has your attention jumping all over the place! Still, not to detract, it’s a decent rock song. Accident Of Birth is definitely the heaviest track in this mix (so far). It’s fast, it chugs, and it’s heavy as hell. Makes me want to drive really fast. Awesome.
The Ghost Of Cain is another mid-tempo rocker with some excellent guitar lines. There are bits where the vocals are a bit low in the mix, he’s hard to understand at times. But I love the drum breakdown in the middle. DRUMS! I love the drums. Cool track! Omega is another track that builds from slower and gentle into an epic rocker. What a fuckin’ riff in the chorus bit, here!! Damn, that one sounds heavy enough to crush cars! And when the track really takes off, in the middle, it’s pure Maiden. The little hairs on my arms stand up every time it gets to this part. This track is a highlight of the mix every time.
Arc Of Space brings spanish guitar, cello and synth/strings together. What a showcase for Bruce’s vocals! Beautiful. Then, Mars Within/Abduction is an odd duck. Gotta be the Mars Within part that’s the weirdo freakout for the first minute and a half of the track. Then the lid gets torn off and (what I assume is) Abduction gallops off at high speed and demolishes everything in its path (Maiden, anyone?). Holy hell this is an awesome one.
Mixed perfectly back to back with that blast is Kill Devil Hills, which swings and stomps and contains guitar bits that are so sharp they can cut you just listening to them. There’s a lot of meat on the bones of this song. It’s not even a shame that the song becomes a pretty instrumental at the end, it all works. Blended gorgeously to that is Navigate The Seas Of The Sun, an acoustic-to-electric science fiction story set to song. Fun! And lastly, Elected. It took the internets to tell me that yes, that is Mr. Bean. And it’s a cover of an Alice Cooper song. Surely this was tacked onto the end of the mix as a joke track, right Mikey? Haha fun the first time, but I usually skip it when I’m listening to this disc…
In all, this is one helluva great mix of songs. I looked up the Best Of Bruce Dickinson compilation and only 5 of the tracks Mike selected here appear on the official compilation. What this says about Mike‘s taste in Bruce Dickinson’s solo career’s songs, I don’t know. Although the title of the mix is the Best Of The REST of… so maybe it’s just the stuff he liked other than the hits, and that’s cool too… Still, to know that there’s still so much out there that I’ve yet to hear, well, that’s the greatest bit about being a music fan, isn’t it!
Thanks heaps, Mike. I’ve listened to this CD a lot in the past year (even if this review reads like I’m just hearing it for the first time… I only know how to write in one way, really, so that’s how it comes out). Love this disc. It’s a keeper for sure.