Bruce Dickinson - Soloworks album review
The solo adventures of the Air Raid Siren get a vinyl reissue
Largely thanks to Iron Maiden’s sustained brilliance over the last 17 years, Bruce Dickinson’s solo career has been regrettably overlooked in recent times. Six albums deep and far more diverse than cynics might expect, Soloworks offers a very welcome opportunity to reassess the piloting polymath’s lone ventures, and on sumptuous, dynamic vinyl too. Bruce’s 1990 debut, Tattooed Millionaire, remains the weakest of his solo records, its rambunctious hard rock vibes providing a fitting contrast to Maiden’s elaborate grandeur but only hinting at glories to come. The title track, Son Of A Gun and Born In ’58 are truly great songs; Lickin’ The Gun and Zulu Lulu are complete twaddle. Balls To Picasso (1994) was a much more contemporary and astute effort, full of great riffs and moments of melodic ingenuity. Not everything matches the irresistible power of the closing Tears Of A Dragon, but Bruce’s identity was evolving rapidly at this point. Much-maligned at the time, 1996’s Skunkworks was a sincere attempt to embrace the alternative rock sound that dominated the decade. With hindsight, it’s simply a very smart and subtle metal record and the hypnotic Inertia is just one dazzling highlight. As diehard fans will already know, the final three albums in this collection are all absolute monsters: Accident Of Birth, Chemical Wedding and Tyranny Of Souls are simply magnificent heavy metal records, equal parts contemporary and classic and bursting with iron-clad anthems. In particular, Chemical Wedding is a stone-cold masterpiece and has never sounded more thrillingly brutal and bombastic than it does on pristine plastic.