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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Bruce Dickinson - the Maidens of Wacken


His career outside Iron Maiden started with the recording of "Bring Your Daughter to the Slaughter" which appears on the A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child soundtrack and Disc Two of The Best of album. A different version of the song was recorded by Iron Maiden for the No Prayer for the Dying album. The original version got him a studio deal for a full album. Along with friend and soon-to-be Iron Maiden guitarist Janick Gers, Dickinson wrote the Tattooed Millionaire album within two weeks. The result was a rather poppy rock album. It was, however, far away from Iron Maiden's heavy metal sound and fantasy lyricism - the baudy sexual innuendoes of "Dive, Dive, Dive!" would never find themselves on one of Iron Maiden's releases. It is possible that some of the songs are leftover ideas from the Somewhere in Time sessions, in which Dickinson presented more experimental ideas to Steve Harris who was not convinced, thus leading to a complete absence of Dickinson songwriting credits on that album.
BruceD0001Before the release of his second effort, Balls to Picasso, Dickinson left Iron Maiden and went through two different efforts with two sets of different collaborators. The first was with Myke Gray of the band Skin, and the second with the producer Keith Olsen. Of the second, a few songs surfaced as B-sides and one, "No Way Out... Continued" appears on the 2-disc The Best of Bruce Dickinson collection. Dickinson was not happy with the majority of the material on these efforts. Salvation came at last in the form of Tribe of Gypsies guitarist Roy Z. He agreed to work with Dickinson to improve the Keith Olsen album and ended replacing all of it except "Tears of the Dragon". Balls to Picasso was recorded with the Tribe of Gypsies and was a far more mature record than Tattooed Millionaire, with some very well-crafted songs, spurred along with the melodic and shredding leads of Roy Z.
The Tribe departed to tour and record under their own steam, leaving Dickinson to track down another band. Dickinson's new writing partner was Alex Dickson, and after touring his current song catalogue (documented on Alive in Studio A) with him and the rest of the new band, sat down to write Skunkworks. The idea was that the band would be called that, but the record company insisted Dickinson's name be on the release. Dickinson likened that to David Bowie attempting to do the same with Tin Machine and how it did not work for him either.
BruceD0002The Skunkworks entity ceased to be after the touring due to musical differences (Dickinson wanted the next album to be more metal), and after a period of inactivity Dickinson once again teamed up with Roy Z to record Accident Of Birth. Adrian Smith was asked to guest, and played on the whole album and tour. The album marked a return to heavy metal for Dickinson; in fact the album is much heavier than Iron Maiden, with a less progessive influence. It was a big success and for the first time, a follow up was inevitable. The Chemical Wedding, a semi-concept album on alchemy and the writings of William Blake followed. This record proved to be even more successful, with engaging lyrics and powerful songs. Scream for Me Brazil was a live album that documented a show of the Chemical Wedding tour, and featured songs from the last two albums and two from Balls to Picasso.
BruceD0004The Best of Bruce Dickinson album with two new Roy Z songs and a limited edition disc of rarities was released in 2001. Dickinson is said to have wanted to record another album with Roy Z, but he was busy with Judas Priest vocalist, Rob Halford, and the window of opportunity was missed. Tyranny of Souls was finally released in May 2005. This time the songwriting was all split between Roy Z and Dickinson, with Roy playing all guitars and even basses in some songs. Much of the writing was done by Roy sending recordings of riffs to Dickinson which he wrote lyrics and melodies for while on tour. With the release of Tyranny of Souls, Dickinson's back catalogue was reissued with a bonus disc of extra tracks for each album except The Chemical Wedding and the two live albums, the latter of which were packaged together in a three-disc set.

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