And what is the occasion? I received musics in the mail from Deke! THANK YOU, BROTHER!!!
In the parcel with the Big Drill Car live album (covered in yesterday’s post) was this solo effort by Bruce Dickinson. Sadly, I already had a copy of it (I mentioned this one in a post on October 16, 2017, that I’d found it in the sale bins in Toronto). However, it was AWESOME that Deke thought to send this on to me – he knows that, compared to him and several others in the Community, I am a (relative) noob when it comes to the powers of the Air Raid Siren, but I am definitely making up for lost time.
Looking back at that post, though, I didn’t actually say anything about my thoughts on this 1997 record, just that I had got it, so now that it has come back into my life again, I’m gonna take a stab at it now.
Bruce Bruce’s second solo outing, this time with help from Maiden cohort Adrian Smith, this is 13 tracks of awesome. Freak starts us out just pounding away with huge guitars and heavy everything, with Bruce’s vocals soaring over top. Follow that, inexplicaly, with 0:38 of oddness as a, what, an interlude track? Sure OK! Starchildren cranks things back up and that wee track is forgotten. Taking The Queen and Omega follow the Maiden template somewhat, gentle intro eventually becomes heavier banger, without taking full gallop, though. The album continues on like this, tons of big heavy rockers meet up with ballad-like tracks like Man Of Sorrows and Arc Of Space (with its gorgeous Spanish guitar), while Welcome To The Pit reminds (a bit) of Sabbath, and so on.
This album rocks. It has everything, and does it all well. It’s obvious Bruce took his solo work seriously! I found one review online that said that (in that reviewer’s opinion, anyway), this was better than anything Maiden had released post-Seventh Son. Haha whut. Alright, so some fans have a knack for overstating their excitement when their hero releases new tunes, but still, this is a damn solid effort that rocks heavy and hard, but also mixes things up nicely. Fully recommended.
Thanks again, Brother Deke!
It went like this:
Back when the Bruce Dickinson book (What Does This Button Do?) and the Iron Maiden live album (Book Of Souls: Live Chapter) were announced, I excitedly put them both on pre-order from Amazon. The book was due out October 31, and the album November 17. By adding both to the pre-order I got free shipping. Actually, just the CD set was enough for free shipping, at their prices. More on that in a minute.
Unfortunately, Amazon was going to hold onto my book from October 31 until November 17 in order to ship both together to give me the free shipping. I even called them to see if they’d ship the book seperately – they would, for shipping fees… Well, no way was I gonna pay shipping, nor was I gonna wait three weeks for the book and CD to ship together. So I cancelled the book portion of the order and got a copy (even before Amazon’s date!) at my local shite mall book shoppe. In my small town. C’mon, Amazon.
On Friday (Nov 17) I got notice that my Book Of Souls live album had shipped. It did not arrive Friday. It did not arrive Saturday (today, as I post this). Which means I could just have gone to Sunrise at our shite mall on Friday and bought the damn live album myself (probably cheaper) because now I gotta wait until Monday for it (at least, it had better bloody well arrive on Monday or I’m gonna yell). Plus, Amazon charged me over $40 for the deluxe set, and I see secondary sellers have it at $27 plus minimal shipping.
I didn’t need to pre-order either item.
I should have seen the free shipping issue coming.
If I’d waited, I could have had the CDs cheaper.
I had this one on Amazon preorder along with the upcoming Maiden live album. The book was due for release October 31, the album November 17. To get free shipping, I’d have to wait until the album dropped to get the book too. Haha no way was I waiting two extra weeks! So I cancelled the book and hit up my local Coles in our shite mall. They had one copy, and several days before October 31, too. Score!
I’ve always thought Bruce should write a book, though I figured it would be a self help motivation-style book [if this idea gets back to Bruce, I want my cut!]. Maybe later – this autobiography is cool too. Tons of stories in here, as expected, though I do have the feeling he skimmed a wee bit over a lot of stuff that might’ve benefitted from more detail… then again, if he went in-depth into everything, this would have been at least a three-volume set…
Anyway, this is a fun read about a guy who seems fairly irrepressible. It’s written with wit, intelligence, and a pretty clear-eyed view of the world. It reads like he’s telling you all these stories over a pint (of Trooper, natch) in the pub. Others who know more about the band’s history (and the interpersonal stuff that’s gone down along the way) will read this and write up far more involved and intricate reviews than I ever could. For me, it was a fascinating history of one of metal’s most famous front men.
Oh my goodness this is awesome.
Is there anything the man cannot do?
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.