Bruce Dickinson: Flashing Metal with Maiden and Flying Solo by Joe Shooman
My rating: 4.7/5
My rating: 4.7/5
Bruce Dickinson is the instantly-recognisable frontman of heavy metal behemoths Iron Maiden. But there is so much more than a set of fine lungs to this hyperactive life-grabber, for whom it seems standing still is going backwards.
The man once dubbed 'The Air Raid Siren' has also enjoyed hugely successful parallel careers as a fiction author, world-class fencing competitor, history expert, radio and TV presenter, movie maker, commercial pilot, inspirational speaker and entrepreneur.
Since he re-joined Iron Maiden in 1999 they have continued to explore and develop, taking metal into ever more unchartered territories, as they blend a progressive outlook with a fearless approach that pushes at the very boundaries of the genre.
In 2015, the voice, and the life, of Iron Maiden's singer were placed in the cruellest jeopardy as he was diagnosed with a golf-ball sized cancerous tumour on his tongue. Undaunted, Dickinson set to his recovery with the energy of one for whom a night's sleep is an irritant amidst the serious – and sometimes silly – matter of wringing every last drop out of life. There could only ever be one winner.
Since his return to fitness, Iron Maiden have released an acclaimed sixteenth album, The Book of Souls, for which the singer changed hats between gigs, flying the band around the world as captain of Maiden's special airliner, Ed Force One.
This first biography of Bruce Dickinson tells his story through exclusive interviews with those who know him best, including first accounts by ex-members of Iron Maiden including fellow one-time vocalists Paul Di'Anno and Blaze Bayley. From his formative days straddling the upsurge of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, through his solo years and up to his present day legendary status, this is the ultimate rock 'n' roll story.
***** *** *******
I picked this up intending to read it as a stop-gap before Bruce's autobiography is released in a month or so, and I began it not expecting all that much, to be honest, based on some other reviews which I'd seen. But, it's really quite a good book and has some great insights and critiques of much of the music which Bruce has been involved with over the years. It's quite up to date (published 2016) and tells the story right up to the release of Iron Maiden's awesome The Book of Souls double album and Bruce's much publicized cancer scare in which he, yet again, demonstrates his grit.
I've always been a very big fan of Bruce Dickinson, from first hearing him belt out Run to the Hills back in 1982 when I was a kid through until now where his unstoppable energy and enthusiasm has taken him to achieve some great things. And there seems to be no stopping him either. I guess that I feel that Bruce and I may be very similar, because his artistic and social sensibilities have always appealed to me. He is also very much involved in aviation which is the industry in which I also ply my trade.
The book itself is quite well written by Joe Shooman, and he weaves the story of Bruce's early life and his introduction to the London rock scene rather well given the sheer pace of events. I found the early history part particularly interesting because of my fascination with the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) era that was so hugely influential to rock music and spawned some of the best rock and metal acts to ever play a not. Many later and now contemporary bands really owe the depth of their sound to these British lads who busted out of the ghastly punk scene and forged something quite incredible.
As mentioned, I really liked Shooman's descriptions and critiques of Bruce's solo albums and some of Iron Maiden's albums as well. It all helped because the author reflected a lot of my own opinions of the music and made this a text that I could easily relate to in an academic sense. I was always eager to pick up reading from where I left off and the pace was good and moved along nicely. The chapters are arranged well, and they often end on a bit of a "cliffhanger", but flicking the page enables you to pick up again the next time you read quite seamlessly.
Overall this is a good book, not too long yet not lacking in substance or depth of information. A recommended read for anybody interested in Bruce Dickinson or Iron Maiden. I enjoyed reading it a lot.
5/5 for concept
4/5 for delivery
5/5 for entertainment
= 4.7 out of 5
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