Bruce Dickinson - Best Of
Metal-Is
Heavy Metal
Disc 1: 13 songs (64:04) Disc 2: 14 songs (71:57)
Release year: 2001
Bruce Dickinson
Reviewed by Marty
Major event
Untitled Document

Over the course of his solo career, Bruce Dickinson has delivered a wide range of styles of music from straight ahead rock to heavy metal and even experimenting with a more alternative type of sound. His latest release offers us a 2 CD collection of tracks spanning his entire solo career. Disc One, features material from his studio releases (all remastered), an unreleased live track, and 2 new tracks. Disc Two (entitled From The Vaults) features some rare B-sides, unreleased material and alternate versions of songs.

Bruce began his solo career in 1990 with the release of Tattooed Millionaire, while still a member of Iron Maiden, and featured future Iron Maiden guitarist Jannick Gers. This album was a big commercial success consisting of a more stripped down basic rock and roll type of sound. The title song is a great up-tempo rock tune with a very memorable chorus and is really a reaction to the negative image that L.A. glam bands such as Guns 'N Roses and Poison were giving the general public about rock musicians in the early 90's. Bruce is very up front about his dislike for the whole scene of bad attitudes, egos and big entourages that bands tended to be associated with rather than making good music. Another track from this release, Born In '58, is an autobiographical look at his life growing up and features an almost Rush-like type of guitar sound with some added acoustic guitar parts. Disc Two also features 3 tracks that were recorded for the Tattooed Millionaire sessions. The first track, Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter, was part of a Nightmare On Elm Street movie soundtrack and was kept off the album in favor of re-recording it for an Iron Maiden album (at the request of a Mr. Steve Harris!!). It was a good decision as the Maiden version shot straight to # 1 on the British charts. Bruce's original version is pretty much the same although there's more backing vocals in the chorus and the track doesn't have the thicker guitar sound that the Maiden version does. The Ballad Of Mutt, a B-side, is a short bluesy song about Mutt Lange, his producer at the time, and features Bruce accompanied by acoustic guitar and harmonica (apparently done by Mutt himself!!). Darkness Be My Friend, another B-side, is a slow ballad-like track with just Bruce, acoustic guitar and flute-like synthesizer lines provided by Don Airey of Rainbow, Ozzy fame.

Tears Of The Dragon, a track from the Balls To Picasso release, is probably the best track on the that album and is one of Bruce's best tracks ever. It's a very personal look at Bruce's life at the time after having left Maiden and the new sense of freedom he now felt. His vocals soar on this track and he delivers a stunning and passionate performance. Laughing In The Hiding Bush is a hard driving metal tune and, featured here, is a killer live version originally recorded at the same time as tracks for the Scream For Me Brazil live album. The Balls To Picasso album also was the start of Bruce's partnership with guitarist/producer Roy Z whose guitar talents really shine on the live tracks on this release.

In 1996, Bruce surprised the metal world with the very alternative-sounding Skunkworks. It featured a very different and at times more electronic and industrial type of sound and was not very well received. There were still a few very good tracks on the album, noteably Back From The Edge, which is included in this package. It's a very energetic song with synthesized guitar effects used throughout. Three B-sides are included on Disc Two that were recorded during the sessions for this album. No Way Out has a scary vibe to it and also a more progressive feel with it's use of keyboards and progressive rock style guitar hooks. Re-Entry is a spirited song with some acoustic guitar fills, great vocals and a very strong chorus and lastly, I'm In A Band With An Italian Drummer, a silly novelty track, that has very tongue-in-cheek lyrics and a Frank Zappa style vocal delivery and some very bizarre rhythms.

In early 1997, it was announced that former Iron Maiden guitarist Adrian Smith was joining Bruce's band and Bruce was to return to a more Heavy Metal type of sound........awesome news for Maiden fans!!!!. The resulting album Accident Of Birth was a stunning release and saw Bruce return to a more Maiden-like sound. It was easily heralded as his best solo work yet and even rivalled some of his work with Maiden. There was a more modern-style metal approach than Maiden and the use of de-tuned guitars gave it a more heavier, aggressive feel. Seven tracks on this release come from the sessions for this album. The title track Accident Of Birth, is a great driving song with lots of Maiden-like fills and riffs and is a highlight of that album. Darkside Of Aquarius is a mid-tempo rocker that has Thin Lizzy style riffs throughout. The song also features machine gun type guitar / snare drum riffs that Maiden often used and finishes with some great harmony guitar leads. Road To Hell, another stand-out track that has Maiden-like passages (co-written by Adrian Smith), features a classic and dramatic Adrian-style lead solo that he's so typically known for. Included on Disc Two of this release is Bruce's original version of The Wicker Man, a song that eventually appeared on Maiden's comeback album Brave New World. It was written during the sessions for Accident Of Birth but was never finished until just prior to Bruce re-joining Maiden. The song bears no resemblance to the Maiden version with totally different music and lyrics. The Acoustic Song is just that, a low key number with just Bruce and Roy Z on acoustic guitar. Midnight Jam, the result of an impromtu recording session late one night after having been in the studio for hours, is just Bruce on vocals with Adrian and Roy Z on acoustic guitar. It has an eerie feel to it and it's based on the backing track for Taking the Queen, also from the same album. The original version of Man Of Sorrows, included here, was originally done for a movie Bruce was to produce called The Chemical Wedding, which he still plans on doing someday. It has a more gothic feel to it than the album version with it's use of keyboards and string synthesizers and is not nearly as heavy.

In 1998, Bruce released his monumental album, The Chemical Wedding, one of the best metal releases of the 90's. It was a continuation of the sound from Accident Of Birth, but was even heavier and had a more gothic/medieval feel to it with it's imagery of sorcery and magic. It was his best album ever and was certainly better than what Maiden had released without him. Five tracks from the sessions for that album are included here. The Tower is a classic epic from this album and is one of the best tracks. It features excellent heavy guitar passages and harmonies and a great chorus. Chemical Wedding, the title track, has a grungy metal type sound to it and uses some creepy echo effects on the guitar to add to the overall gothic feel to the song. The guitars are amazing with very melodic leads and the chorus is simply stunning. A live version of Book Of Thel is included here (again, recorded at the same time as tracks for the Scream For Me Brazil release) and is another heavy and killer track with lots of tempo changes. It's every bit as good as the studio version and only lacks some background vocals. Disc Two also contains a track Real World which was a bonus track released on the Japanese version of the album. A stunning live version of Jerusalem is also included which is based on the William Blake poem of the same name. A great version of the song and features more acoustic guitar than the studio version and awesome leads by both Adrian and Roy Z.

One particular track, Dracula, on Disc Two may seem a bit out of character and it should be....it was originally recorded in 1977 and was the first professional recording Bruce ever did. It's an odd sort of track and seems obviously a bit dated. Bruce eventually formed his first band, called The Shots, using members of the studio band he recorded this song with. Two tracks on Disc One are brand new tracks and are both very solid and very worthy of being included on this collection. Broken opens with thick, heavy guitar riffs and a sound very much like The Chemical Wedding sessions. It's a very pounding heavy song with very defiant lyrics. Silver Wings, another new track, is an absolute gem of a track and is a highlight of this entire package. It is a very fast Aces High type of song also about WWII pilots and features some cool guitar harmonies reminiscent of Maiden's Hallowed Be Thy Name. One track The Voice Of Crube is a speaking part by Bruce describing the circumstances surrounding the recording of most of the tracks on Disc Two and was one of my sources of information for this review!!.......thanks Bruce!!.

Like all "Best Of" packages, there's always tracks that you may have preferred be included and some you wish that weren't, but I think that in this case, the powers that be (i.e. Bruce) have done a great job in putting this together. Most fans of Bruce's will already have most of the tracks included in this package, but I think there's enough unreleased and rare material here to definitely recommend picking it up. If your not too familiar with Bruce's solo work, then this is a must. It's a very extensive and intimate look inside one of the most talented and influential people in metal, or in the music business as a whole today. Iron Maiden is still one of my all time favorite bands, but I enjoy Bruce's solo work as well. It has a different edge and feel than that of Maiden and by itself is top notch metal music. Judging by the quality of his most recent solo work and his latest release, Brave New World, with Iron Maiden, you're looking at a man who is very much at the top of his game..........

Killing Songs :
Broken, Laughing In The Hiding Bush, Tears Of The Dragon, The Tower, Accident Of Birth, Silver Wings, Road To Hell, Book Of Thel
Marty quoted no quote
Other albums by Bruce Dickinson that we have reviewed:
Bruce Dickinson - Balls To Picasso reviewed by Goat and quoted 79 / 100
Bruce Dickinson - Accident of Birth reviewed by Goat and quoted 92 / 100
Bruce Dickinson - Skunkworks reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Bruce Dickinson - Tattooed Millionaire reviewed by Ben and quoted 69 / 100
Bruce Dickinson - Anthology (3 DVDs) reviewed by Marty and quoted no quote
To see all 8 reviews click here
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