And so continues a new segment, in which I will listen to an album for the first time and give my impressions of said album as I go through. I will provide background information, a track by track review and then final thoughts. Enjoy!
Background – Steve Harris has been Iron Maiden’s bassist and principle songwriter for more than 30 years. He is best known for his galloping bass style and ferocious stage presence. More recently, he’s known for putting his bass too high in the mix and for his attractive, yet talentless daughter.
It is with some trepidation that I go into solo albums, particularly by anyone other than the singer of a band. Time and time again, I have picked up albums by guitarists, drummers, and bassists, nearly all of which have been disappointing. Glenn Tipton, GZR, Echobrain have been but a few of the terrible albums put out by various non-frontmen. However, this is Steve Harris and a cast of nobodies and the album is called “British Lion,” and so I figure I owe it to the guy to at least give it a shot. Three questions I always ask when listening to solo albums:
1) How does it compare to his main body of work?
2) Is it stylistically any different than everything else they’ve done?
3) Should this person consider a true solo career?
We’ll see how these questions get answered with Steve Harris. Here we go!
1) This is my God – Well, one thing is at least apparent. Steve Harris still doesn’t know how to properly mix an album. Richard Taylor has a pretty clean and almost has a Chevelle-esque vocal style. The guitars aren’t really doing anything and sounds pretty sludgy…but not in a good sludge way…I mean a sloppy sludge way.
This song isn’t bad, but it’s really not good either. It sounds like the kind of track that would play in a 90s comedy when they are doing the pan shot as we meet our characters in a bar shooting pool.
2) Lost Worlds – I mean, come on….these guitars sounded like they were recorded by me…and I have no idea how to record guitars. This is Kevin Shirley, legendary Iron Maiden producer here. He couldn’t get a better guitar sound than this? As for the song, it has been on for over two minutes and I forgot all about it. I’m more focused on this killer game of Vegas-style solitaire I have open right now….seriously.
3) Karma Killer – One thing I’ll at least give Steve Harris credit for is trying something different. This album sounds nothing like Maiden, which is a commendable thing. This song is a relatively interesting track, in 6/8 time, which kind of sounds like The Verve Pipe. That is not to say I would ever be interested in hearing this song again, but for one listen, it is ok.
4) Us Against the World – Well, this intro sounds a lot like Iron Maiden actually and it’s the best thing I’ve heard on the album so far. Although, a minute in and I am left wondering how much better this would be with Bruce Dickinson singing. I also wonder how much better this song would be with two badass guitarists playing on it, instead of Steve’s drinking buddies. This is a pretty cool song all in all though, so I’ll give credit where it’s due.
5) The Chosen Ones – This is corny as hell. When the vocalist hit with the “Come On,” I laughed out loud. The pre-chorus is pretty catchy, but this lame ass chorus kind of ruined the vibe. And the bass is so up front in the mix that you are left scratching your head at the whole thing. And did I mention this is a cheesy song? From the lyrics, to the half assed guitar solo, you feel like this is the exact kind of song which would have benefited from a healthy dose of Adrian and Bruce helping Steve write.
6) A World Without Heaven – This intro sounds like “Shot in the Dark,” by Ozzy, right down to the vocal melody in the first verse. And it appears that the resemblance to a mediocre Ozzy song is the only redeeming quality this song has. Damn. When a twin guitar melody can’t save a song, you know you’re in bad shape.
7) Judas – If this album had been produced better, and was mastered as to be so quiet, that intro could have been pretty rocking….but it wasn’t. Oh, this is a jaded love song, where the woman is the Judas here. She really upset Steve and inspired him to write some pretty awful lyrics….dirty concubine.
8) Eyes of the Young – Hey Steve, Mott the Hoople called and they want their B-Side back. Never did I think I would have to compare Steve Harris to such a low standard, but here we are. This song is making want to get a copy of the worst Iron Maiden album and frame it and perform some kind of strange voodoo ritual in its presence.
9) These are the Hands – zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
10) The Lessson – An orchestra to start things off….could be a sign of a great song to end the album. But no, all we have is a lame ass four minute ballad. That is pretty ballsy, as I cannot recall a single Iron Maiden ballad, and this is outside the box. But if you are going to go outside the box, at least write a track that kicks ass, not this pile of turds.
Final Thoughts – This album pretty much sucks. It also goes a long way to carry on a fine tradition of bad solo albums by guitarists/bassist/drummers. As for my questions, it pales in comparison to his huge body of work, which is ok, cause his body of work is pretty amazing. There are moments reminiscient of Maiden, but this is not a mockery of his own style, so I will once again give him credit for that. And as for the final question….NO, please just stick to Iron Maiden, Mr. Harris. Do yourself a favor and go buy the Bruce Dickinson solo collection instead of wasting a cent on this one.