Sunday, December 22, 2019

Holy Smoke: Iron Maiden In The 90's- Martin Popoff (Power Chord Press)

   I have both Maiden books Martin self-published this year, the first featured their classic period but it's this one I have read first for a number of reasons. The successes we know about but how a band deals with adversity is a more compelling story and every traditional metal band suffered in the 90s. Steve Harris didn't change with the times even as Adrian and then Bruce walked. His stubborn streak is what makes the band great but not always. The band were recording in a barn as Dream Theater were releasing the superior sounding Images And Words and I'm personally not a huge fan of the Blaze Bayley albums bar a couple of songs, love him in Wolfsbane but didn't feel his voice suited Maiden. His vocal style was too big a change in a decade of uncertainty, they needed a Bruce type vocalist and it took them two studio albums to figure it out and fire Blaze. Bruce sounds better singing the Blaze stuff. They were done if they kept him and even Steve knew it in the end. 

   Then there's Bruce Dickinson's solo career that is vastly underrated, some of it stands up to the best Iron Maiden ever recorded especially The Chemical Wedding. Steve was looking backwards as Bruce embraced grunge with Skunkworks and added a heavier metal sound on Accident Of Birth, take a bow Roy Z. In some ways the book title is misleading as half of it deals with Bruce outside the band and it's the in depth look at the solo albums that puts this over the top for me especially if you are a fan. The interviews with Bruce are fascinating highlighting his mindset on each release, he truly embraced change until it didn't become financially viable to continue on that path and you never get a sense that any of it was contrived. He's way overdue another solo album and I'm fascinated to hear it if he ever gets around to it.

   The book ends with Maiden playing clubs, Bruce making great music for small time labels void of tour support leading to the inevitable reunion with Bruce and the more surprising return of Adrian for the Ed Hunter Tour and there's interview coverage of all of that. Another great book from Martin, I don't know how many of these he has left as he only prints a certain amount so hit him up at the link below and get both books before they are gone. Hopefully the next one is out soon.


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