metal talk
instagram Facebook Twitter RSS
metal talk
Bruce Dickinson: 'Soloworks 1990-2005 - The Vinyl Collection'
Out now (BMG)

brian boyle
Words: Brian Boyle
30th October 2017

bruce dickinson

It's been an eventful few years in the life of Bruce Dickinson. After a cancer battle which he bravely won, the hugely successful 'The Book Of Souls' album and tour plus the release of his revealing autobiography, Metal's favourite frontman/pilot/brewer/author and many other things besides is, as usual, firing on all cylinders.

But strangely enough, what he's not as well known for is his career as a solo artist which spawned six studio albums, so if you fancy getting your hands on a mother of a 'Brucie Bonus', those albums have now been hosed down and re-issued on vinyl and neatly tucked into a snazzy box.

1990s 'Tattooed Millionaire' was Bruce's first venture going it alone and it's a cracker and still sounds fantastic twenty-seven years on.

Mostly co-written with his Maiden colleague Janick Gers, who also plays lead guitar on the album, the title track gave Bruce his first top twenty hit but the album will probably be best remembered for the killer version of David Bowie's/Mott The Hoople's 'All The Young Dudes' but it's the mammoth opening track, 'Son Of A Gun', and 'Hell On Wheels' that still stand head and shoulders above the rest.

1994s 'Balls To Picasso' was his first album since leaving Iron Maiden the previous year so a bittersweet record for a lot of fans as the news of his departure from the biggest Metal band on the plant was met with a mixture of anger and sadness. To headbanger disciples the world over this news was bigger than President Kennedy's assassination or Elvis popping his clogs on the throne.

bruce dickinson

But he probably could have named the album 'Balls To Maiden' instead as it saw him take a massive leap sideways from his Metal roots. Teaming up with Tribe Of Gypsies guitarist Roy Z, they co-wrote an album that dabbled with grunge, funk and Latino vibes. A lot to take in for his denim and leather clad following perhaps, but with Bruce you should always expect the unexpected, as is evident on quirky opener 'Cyclops' but the big brawny closing track, 'Tears Of The Dragon', sees him back on familiar ground and wouldn't be out of place on a modern Maiden album.

With the Grunge movement now a dominating force in rock music, Bruce adopted an 'if you can't beat them join them' attitude with 1996s 'Skunkworks' and even if your interest in the genre is miniscule, there's still a handful of tunes to hold your interest. Opening threesome, 'Space Race', 'Back From The Edge' and 'Inertia' are a tasty listen and give off nice scents of classic rock but a dark cloud of bleak grey Monday Grunge rears it's head with 'Dreamstate' and 'I Will Not Accept The Truth', two tunes that would sound less appealing if Bruce wasn't singing them. The same can be said for 'Meltdown' and 'Octavia' and the lively and effervescent 'Innerspace' well and truly saves the day. With thirteen songs the album has been upgraded to a beefy double vinyl.

1997 saw Bruce relacing his Metal boots with 'Accident Of Birth'. Another double vinyl, it marked the return of Roy Z to the set up and a double delight was the inclusion of the then former Iron Maiden guitarist Adrian Smith and Derek Riggs, whose talents had adorned all the classic Maiden albums, designing the cover art. That massive familiarity factor rubbed off with terrific effect on the material. This is the Bruce Dickinson we all know and love, writing big epic Metal anthems then letting it completely rip with those legendary vocals.

Opener 'Freak' breaks down walls with it's tumultuous rhythm and lets in the gritty 'Starchildren' with it's old school haunting Metal chorus. The Dickinson/Smith penned 'Road To Hell' is one of the album's main highlights with shades of Thin Lizzy and an obvious Maiden vibe but 'Man Of Sorrows' is the money shot by a country mile and was glaring evidence of Bruce's growing confidence as a songwriter outside of his previous job.

bruce dickinson

Just one year before they rejoined Iron Maiden, Dickinson and Smith teamed up again for 1998s 'The Chemical Wedding'. Once again taking the heavier approach, Bruce also went down a deeper path lyrically with an album inspired by the works of poet and artist William Blake and as Metal concept albums go, 'The Chemical Wedding' is as good as it gets.

A much darker offering than his previous exploits, his mystical lyricism takes you on deep imaginative journeys. Right from vicious opener 'King In Crimson', through to 'The Tower' and 'Killing Floor', you are treated to a pistol whipping of gargantuan Metal and with Iron Maiden having released two underwhelming albums in Bruce's absence, it's no coincidence that he, along with Adrian, were reinstated a year later. Maybe 'Arry' Harris had a sneaky listen and heard monsters like 'Return Of The King' and 'Real World' and promptly signed a 'sorry you're leaving' card for Blaze Bayley.

Now back in full Maiden mode there was expected inactivity on the solo front for a while, seven years in fact, and 2005s 'Tyranny Of Souls' is still his latest solo work to date. 'The Chemical Wedding' was always going to be a hard act to follow and this ten tracker doesn't fall too far short of matching it.

With Roy Z both producing and handling all guitar duties, the American cooked up a barrel load of gilt edged Metal riffs and with Bruce in an obvious hot song-writing streak, the pair's creative chemistry spawned some majestic moments. 'Abduction', 'Soul Intruders' and 'Power Of The Sun' are robust and roar of a man in searing hot form. 'Kill Devil Hill' brings his passion for aviation out in style with an epic tribute to the Wright Brothers while the doom laden title track signs off another strong Dickinson album with one mighty fine wallop.

So there you have it - an absorbing six album tour of one of music's most enthralling figures. For those of the more mature generation I've probably been preaching to the converted over the last thousand words or so as these albums are most likely already in your possesion, but for any new recruits to the Maiden Army who want a hefty addition to their vinyl collection, start dropping your Christmas hints now.

beer beer beerbeerbeerbeer beer beerbeerbeer

You can order 'Soloworks 1990-2005 - The Vinyl Collection' from Amazon right here.

Tattooed Millionaire (1990)
Son Of A Gun
Tattooed Millionaire
Born In 58
Hell On Wheels
Gypsy Road
Dive Dive Dive
All The Young Dudes
Lickin The Gun
Zulu Lulu
No Lies

Balls To Picasso (1994)
Hell No
Gods Of War
1000 Points Of Light
Laughing In The Hiding Bush
Change Of Heart
Shoot All The Clowns
Sacred Cowboys
Tears Of The Dragon

Skunkworks (1996)
Space Race
Back From The Edge
Solar Confinement
I Will Not Accept The Truth
Inside The Machine
Strange Death In Paradise

Accident Of Birth (1997)
Toltec 7 Arrival
Taking The Queen
Darkside Of Aquarius
Road To Hell
Man Of Sorrow
Accident Of Birth
The Magician
Welcome To The Pit
Arc Of Space

The Chemical Wedding (1998)
King In Crimson
Chemical Wedding
The Tower
Killing Floor
Book Of The
Gates Of Urizen
Trumpets Of Jericho
Machine Men
The Alchemist

Tyranny Of Souls (2005)
Mars Within
Soul Intruders
Kill Devil Hill
Navigate The Seas Of The Sun
River Of No Return
Power Of The Sun
Devil On A Hog

More Brian Boyle right here...


metal talk © All written site content is copyright 2008-2018, unless otherwise stated, and is not to be used without prior permission.