Bruce Dick­in­son


Classic Rock - - The Hard Stuff Reissues - Mal­colm Dome

Iron Maiden front­man’s solo out­put col­lected in a vinyl box set.

It’s a busy time for Bruce Dick­in­son. Not only is his au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, What Does This But­ton Do?, be­ing pub­lished, but all of his solo stu­dio al­bums have been col­lated to­gether in this vinyl-edi­tion box set. And it’s in­for­ma­tive to look back at how th­ese rep­re­sent his chang­ing ap­proach to his mu­sic away from Maiden.

Tat­tooed Mil­lion­aire, from 1990, was his de­but solo re­lease, and it’s cut from a sim­i­lar style to that of Maiden – maybe a lit­tle sharper and snap­pier, but you can still tell where he be­longs. Four years later, hav­ing now left the moth­er­ship, he is­sued Balls To Pi­casso. Work­ing with gui­tarist Roy Z and his band Tribe Of Gyp­sies, the vo­cal­ist came up with a much tougher and more stripped-down ap­proach, in keep­ing with the dom­i­nant grunge trail­blaz­ers of the era.

Now, 1996’s Skunkworks is not only the best Dick­in­son solo ef­fort, but it’s the one that saw a rad­i­cal shift in di­rec­tion. Al­most en­tirely eschew­ing con­nec­tions to Maiden and that more tra­di­tional ap­proach to rock, this was very much in the al­ter­na­tive vein, hav­ing much in com­mon with Soundgar­den and Alice In Chains. Songs such as Space Race and Back From The Edge were con­vinc­ing ex­am­ples of the man’s fresh mu­si­cal as­pi­ra­tions.

It was such a pity, though, that Dick­in­son pulled back from this bold new en­vi­ron­ment for Ac­ci­dent Of Birth a year later. This was a re­turn to fa­mil­iar ground on an al­bum that had the in­volve­ment of gui­tarist

Adrian Smith, an­other for­mer Maiden alum­nus, and it was rightly viewed as be­ing a lit­tle staid and ob­vi­ous.

The Chem­i­cal Wed­ding in 1998 was in­spired by the writ­ings of Wil­liam Blake, and at least moved Dick­in­son slightly fur­ther from the metal main­stream, even if it lacked the bold­ness of Balls To Pi­casso and Skunkworks. And in 2005, now back in the Maiden ranks, Dick­in­son felt able to take a few more mu­si­cal risks on the eru­dite and chal­leng­ing Tyranny Of Souls. Roy Z was heav­ily in­volved again, as he was for all th­ese al­bums, apart from the first one and Skunkworks.

Over­all then? Soloworks con­tains an im­pres­sive cat­a­logue of work that proves Dick­in­son’s un­de­ni­able worth as a gen­uinely in­di­vid­ual artist, one of most cru­cial the UK has ever pro­duced, even if some of th­ese al­bums are a lit­tle un­even.

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