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Dickinson, Bruce: Skunkworks (Expanded Edition)

Skunkworks, Bruce Dickinson's 1996 solo album, is probably the one that sees the most debate among fans. It's certainly the least heavy of the lot, paling in comparison to Accident of Birth or the superhuman The Chemical Wedding, and while it's more more melodic than Balls to Picasso, the songs are less memorable. Dickinson tried to do something a little different with this album, and while it was a critical success, the hordes of Iron Maiden faithful didn't really get it, and it sold less then the previous solo outing Balls to Picasso. Perhaps the sound was too close to bands like Soundgarden or the hordes of other Seattle/alternative bands that flocked the airwaves at that time? It was certainly less metallic than other Dickinson albums or any Iron Maiden album, but the songwriting and music skills of the Skunkworks band were definitely solid.

Despite there being a host of intelligent and chunky rockers on Skunkworks, like "Faith", "Space Race", and "I Will Not Accept the Truth" being a few of them, many of the songs, while still decent rockers, just aren't that memorable, and certainly don't pack enough "oomph" to satisfy most metal heads. I for one missed the production of Roy Z on this album, not that Jack Endino did a bad job, but his style was more suited to the grunge bands like Nirvana and Soundgarden than a metal legend like Dickinson. Rather than having that massive crunch with a huge bottom end that Roy Z was able to do for most of the Dickinson solo albums, this one has a rather dry and sterile sound that just sounds a bit flat. You can give Bruce credit for trying something different here, and I'm sure that he can look back on this period with great pride, but overall I think Skunkworks was a tad too outside the box for Bruce Dickinson for most. If you look at it as an album from a band called Skunkworks, and not as a Bruce Dickinson solo album, then it becomes easier to get into and enjoy. The band is certainly made up of solid players, especially guitarist Alex Dickson, whose textured rhythms and searing leads are the highlight of the CD, especially on tracks like "Meltdown" and "Innerspace".

This reissue comes with a 2nd CD of bonus material, mostly b-sides, singles, and live tracks. Overall it's a neat package of an album that is pretty much misunderstood by many of the Dickinson legions, but ultimately it just doesn't stack up to some of the others gems in the singers solo catalog.

Track Listing
Disc: 1
1. Space Race
2. Back from the Edge
3. Inertia
4. Faith
5. Solar Confinement
6. Dreamstate
7. I Will Not Accept the Truth
8. Inside the Machine
9. Headswitch
10. Meltdown
11. Octavia
12. Innerspace
13. Strange Death in Paradise

Disc: 2 (bonus material)
1. I'm in a Band With an Italian Drummer [*]
2. Rescue Day [*]
3. God's Not Coming Back [*]
4. Armchair Hero [*]
5. R 101 [*]
6. Re-Entry [*]
7. Americans Are Behind [*]
8. Inertia [Live][*]
9. Faith [Live][*]
10. Innerspace [Live][*]
11. Prisoner [Live][*]

Added: November 14th 2005
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Bruce Dickinson Website
Hits: 3099
Language: english

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