Released: 2006, Independent Music Press
I’ve always admired Bruce and considered him to be a renaissance man of energy and education. Of course I was very interested to read his biography albeit unofficial and unauthorized. I also reviewed the Paul Dianno as well this month so check out the reviews, a double shot of Maiden singer books! Compared to Di’anno’s autobiography, this is Shakespeare!
Starting with a dull cover and a poorly worded subtitle of ‘Flashing Metal with Iron Maiden And Flying Solo’, the presentation could have used some improvement. It’s about 200 pages long with another couple dozen pages of appendixes, notes, discographies and comes with 17 black and white photos from across the ages. Bruce looks odd in a moustache back in the late 70’s, early 80’s!
The main strength of Shooman’s work is the research, the detail and the extensive coverage of Bruce’s life, pre and post Maiden. Shooman keeps a respectful distance when it comes to the intimate details about Bruce personal life, his marriages, divorce, wife, kids etc. When it comes to discussing Bruce’s career and hobbies, he has a ton of great detail. I appreciate the fact the book is not all just, Maiden, Maiden, Maiden. He discusses his library, interest in literature, film, his love of trains, and of course the more well known hobbies of fencing and flying, in great detail. I was especially interested to read about Dickinson’s foray into writing with is two books. Those need to be re-printed someday as they are exceedingly hard to find in North America.
Shooman has some really good detail about Bruce and his post-Maiden years the details of his solo album are very interesting, the scrapped albums, different producers, band members, tours, labels, studios and more. Suddenly the song, “I’m in a band with an Italian drummer’ makes more sense. The author has interviewed many, many people and they seem to be consistent in saying that Bruce has a professional intensity and energy that is hard to match, while maintaining a warm personality.
Shooman does get a bit analytical, even verbose at times. In Chapter Eleven, Shooman is talking about Bruce having breakfast and writing lyrics during the POWERSLAVE sessions. They seem over the top. Rather than simply saying, “One day at breakfast Bruce decided to do another song about Egypt and Death”, Shooman says, “The other is Bruce’s title track, which not only marks the aesthetic of the subsequent stage show, artwork and Egyptian references, and also discusses obliquely the iconography of celebrity and the rock-star pinnacle-placing lifestyle, but is also, brilliantly, a logical extrapolation of some of the concepts discussed on the track ‘Revelations’ from the previous year’s PIECE OF MIND LP. As was becoming clear with Bruce, one set of lyrics can tell a story on the surface whilst concurrently raising more questions to explore, and that is the mark of a true artist, albeit that it was written in a slightly more prosaic than it’s academic discourse would indicate-Bruce was sat at the breakfast table thinking about ‘Revelations’, and it’s indications of Hindu and Egyptian mythology and discussions of mortality, when he suddenly hit about the crux of the matter.” (p. 95) However, I’d still rather have a cerebral approach than poor writing.
The author also gets quite opinionated at times about the quality of various Maiden albums but seems off base. He says SOMEWHERE IN TIME was poorly received and fundamentally flawed yet the people have spoken; it’s still the best-selling Maiden album of all time. His opinion is often counter-intuitive to popular opinion. That’s OK. It’s his book but he shouldn’t state his opinion as fact.
I’ve read a couple of negative reviews about this book, which strikes me a s odd because I quite enjoyed it, Shooman lacing enough dry British wit to entertain and amuse. His chapter titles are very clever! BRUCE DICKINSON (the book) has excellent attention to detail, and admirably covers all era’s of Bruce life as a singer-song-writer, band member (including tons about Samson!) solo artist and man about town. Until Bruce tells his own life story in detail, this book is the standard.