Bruce Dickinson - Tattooed Millionaire (Columbia) 1990
1. "Son of a Gun"
Bruce's first solo disc was release between Iron Maiden's "Seventh Son" and "No Prayer" albums. I'm not much into this one as I think the song writing and production are rather boring compared to the phenomenal work to come. Bruce Dickinson reminds me so much of Ian Gillan, who also has one of those classic metal voices with a defining sound. Like Gillan , who himself has a slew of solo discs out, Bruce can improve even the most boring music just by putting his voice over top of it. Janick Gers, who will soon join Maiden replacing the departing Adrian Smith, co-wrote most of the songs of this album. Of course everybody knows that Adrian Smith soon hooked up with Bruce to put out two of his best releases ever. Ah, but I'm getting ahead of myself. "All the Young Dudes" is a Mott the Hoople song. Mott the Hoople, remember them?
Bruce Dickinson - Balls to Picasso (Mercury) 1994
This is Bruce's first solo disc after leaving Maiden. "Balls to Picasso" is BIG improvement over the lackluster "Tattooed Millionaire" and much more enjoyable than any of the Blaze Bayley-era Iron Maiden discs. Favorite tracks are "Cyclops", "Hell No", and the awesome epic "Tears of the Dragon."
"Change of Heart" was a song originally penned by Rob Rock and Roy Z in Driver. Bruce took the song, changed some lyrics and made it his own. The song was then re-recorded by Roy Z and Rock years later for the Driver reunion.
Bruce Dickinson - Alive in Studio A (Raw Power) 1995
This one was absent from my collection for years. This double-live CD is actually a fairly nice overview of the first two Dickinson CDs, with some added intensity from the live performance. To be honest though, this CD is overkill since there is nothing new on it, no Maiden tracks and only features tracks from the first two Dickinson CDs. Of the two discs, I prefer the Live At Marquee show to the live in the studio show, as the band sounds a bit tighter and there is a slightly higher energy level.
Bruce Dickinson - Skunkworks (Castle) 1996
The story on this disc, as I have read, is that Skunkworks was originally to be a band effort but the record company wouldn't have it. They wanted Bruce's name on the cover, so the band instead opted to call the album "Skunkworks." Regardless, this is a great disc with some killer riffs and hooks, although not quite as stunning as the more metallic discs that will follow it: "Accident of Birth" and "Chemical Wedding." "Skunkworks" has a bit more of a modern flare to it than anything Bruce has recorded up to this point and the Maiden influences are almost non-existent. I have read a lot of reviews that say that this disc is a masterpiece or Dickinson's best solo disc. I personally wouldn't say that, but it is pretty darn good. I only wish Maiden's last few discs would've been at least this good. One negative comment though, it's really annoying that the lyrics are all printed backwards. What exactly was the point of that? At least when Aerosmith did it, it had relevance to the stinking album title ("Done With Mirrors"). Minor complain about an otherwise stellar CD.
1. "Freak" (4:16)
Adrian Smith joins Bruce Bruce (ha! Gotta be a fan to get that one) on this, the best Iron Maiden, er, uh, I mean, Bruce Dickinson album to date. No really, had this disc been released under the Iron Maiden moniker, this would have been the greatest Maiden disc since "Seventh Son." Unlike Bruce's past solo discs, this one sounds the closest to his former band. Definitely blows away anything Maiden has put out without Bruce in the band. The front cover art is even done by long time Maiden artist Derek Riggs. Now, this disc I would say is a masterpiece! I actually went to the store to pick this one up when it first came out. I planned on spending the $15+ to buy it new but found a "used" copy for $7.00. Hmm, I doubt it was used as it was too new, probably a promo although it has not cuts, holes, etc.
This one was released with several different covers, all by Derek Riggs. Above is the European and American covers, of which I have both.
Bruce Dickinson - The Chemical Wedding (CMC International) 1998
1. "King in Crimson"
A great disc, but don't think that it is better than the phenomenal "Accident of Birth." This has been a debate I have seen all over the internet. In my opinion, both discs are equally great. The production on this disc is stellar; crunchy heavy guitars and thunderous drums. The song writing is strong as well, with every song containing at least one vocal and/or musical hook. The anti-Christian/religion lyrics are getting a bit old now. However, in this particular album, Bruce's lyrics are almost all based on the poetry of William Blake, most interesting being "Jerusalem" which is also the basis for Emerson, Lake & Palmer's "Jerusalem".
Bruce Dickinson - Scream for Me Brazil (Sanctuary) 1999
1. "Trumpets of Jericho"
With Bruce returning to Maiden, I suppose either he or his record company didn't want to lose the interest he had built up in his solo career, so a live album was released. This particular show features an abundance of material from "Chemical Wedding." Would have liked to have seen a few more songs from "Accident of Birth" and perhaps even a Maiden song. Could have lived without the expletives as well. Should also make mention that the phenomenal Roy Z (Tribe of Gypsies/Warrior) plays guitar at this show.
Bruce Dickinson - The Best of Bruce Dickinson (Metal-Is) 2001
The best part of a "best of" compilation is not the "hit" tracks that most fans already possess, but rather the bonus tracks, rarities and b-sides that the record companies put on to force longtime fans to purchase a cd that fans would not need otherwise. This double disc collection is loaded with them. Disc one is a great listen from beginning to end as the compilation does a good job of selecting some of the best material from Bruce's solo discs. This disc also features two brand-new songs; "Broken" which is an excellent Dickinson/Roy Z collaboration in the "Chemical Wedding" style, and "Silver Wings" which is not a bad track, although not as strong a "Broken." The second disc is supposed to be a limited edition bonus disc and contains a wealth of rare and previously unreleased material. The track "Wicker Man" on this disc is not the Iron Maiden song of the same name and is completely different both musically and lyrically. As a matter of fact in the spoken word track titled "Voice of Crube" Bruce gives some thoughts on each track and says that he was a bit irritated that Maiden chose to use the title "Wicker Man" for their comeback album single. Another rare track is "Dracula", from Bruce's first ever recording session from the mid-70's. "Bring Your Daughter to the Slaughter" is the original version Bruce recorded as a solo artist for a movie soundtrack, although it is not severely different from the Maiden version. Disc one is a great listen from beginning to end as the compilation does a good job of selecting some of the best material from Bruce's solo discs.
Bruce Dickinson - Tyranny of Souls (Mayan Records / Sanctuary) 2005
1. "Mars Within"
It's been over seven years since we last saw a solo album from the voice of Iron Maiden. Once again Bruce teams up with extraordinary guitarist/producer Roy Z to unleash yet another monstrous heavy metal platter. The album opens with an atmospheric introduction (≥Mars Within≤) before kicking into a killer power metal romp titled "Abduction". Its has a slight Iron Maiden vibe that is only reinforced by Bruce's signature vox. "Soul Intruders" kicks up the tempo before descending into a more mid-paced rocker titled "Kill Devil Hill", which may be one of the album's more commercially accessible songs. If I were to pick out a single for this CD, "Kill Devil Hill" would be it. "Navigate the Seas of the Sun" has a similar vibe to the classic Dickinson track "Tears of the Dragon" from Balls to Picasso. Likewise "River of No Return" has a slow, melancholy, almost doomy mood to it. "Believil" has a very dark, heavy and sinister sound to it as well. As usual for Bruce's solo material, the lyrical themes seem rather dark, complex and ominous. All in all, I really enjoy "Tyranny of Souls" although I am not sure I would say that this CD is quite on par with the phenomenal "Accident of Birth" or "Chemical Wedding". Still, it's Bruce Dickinson, one of the golden voices of heavy metal. As such, this CD is still miles above many others, even if it's not his personal best.
The artwork for the album is a painting of Hell by Hans Memling, a Flemish artist of the 15th century. The Japanese pressing features a bonus track called "Eternal".