Christer Reviews: Bruce Dickinson – Tattooed Millionaire (1990)

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bruce-tattooed-millionaire

It was just a question of time, Bruce Dickinson would make a solo album. And Iron Maiden’s year off provided the opportunity.

Tattooed Millionaire
Produced by Chris Tsangarides
Released 8 May 1990

It’s over 25 years since the Iron Maiden singer embarked on his first solo adventure. We’re about to get into more features and discussions about Maiden’s 1990s here at Maiden Revelations, and this album was the first Maiden-related release of the new and challenging decade.

It all started with a song which is not on the album, Bring Your Daughter…To The Slaughter. Dickinson delivered the track for the A Nightmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child soundtrack, and everybody loved it. Steve Harris wanted the song for Maiden’s next album, and the powers that be wanted Dickinson to record a whole album of such stuff. With Maiden on hiatus, the singer jumped at the chance.

Click here to read about the end of Maiden’s classic era!

Tattooed Millionaire sounds better and more playful than Adrian Smith’s lacklustre ASAP album Silver And Gold (1989). Dickinson found the perfect partner in crime when he hooked up with ex-Gillan guitarist Janick Gers to write and record.

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bruceandjanick1

Bruce Dickinson and Janick Gers became partners in crime with Dickinson’s first solo album, and when Adrian Smith left Iron Maiden it was all clear for Gers to take his place.

The album is off to a flying start with Son Of A Gun, a tune that showcases two things right off the bat: Dickinson’s vocal approach has changed radically since the end of the Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son tour in 1988, becoming throatier and raspier in a way he would continue for some years. And Gers is a very capable guitarist, sounding better here than he ever would on subsequent Maiden recordings.

Click here for a review of Maiden’s next, No Prayer For The Dying!

Other good songs on the album include the title track, the ballad Gypsy Road, the moronic Dive! Dive! Dive!, and the revealing Born In 58. The latter provided a bit of a breakthrough for Dickinson, pointing him in the direction of more personal lyrics and themes. It also features career-high guitar work from co-author Gers.

Then again, who’s life would have been poorer without Hell On Wheels, Lickin’ The Gun or Zulu Lulu? The fact that the album was written in two weeks is frankly quite obvious from the very uneven quality of the material. There was no artistically ambitious intention behind the record, it was done for fun and it sounds like it.

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bruce12

Unlike Adrian Smith, Bruce Dickinson took his solo project on the road for a club tour in 1990.

Dickinson was thought by many to want out of Maiden at the time, but nothing was further from the truth. He still claims that he was very happy when he returned to his day job to make their first 1990s album. It was his old partner Adrian Smith that would soon find himself out of the band, and Janick Gers who would be called in to replace him.

Click here for an in-depth look at the making of No Prayer For The Dying (1990), the album project that saw Smith leave Maiden and Gers join!

It’s difficult to take Tattooed Millionaire as a meaningful first solo step, for the reasons already mentioned. It’s fun but patchy, and not at all indicative of where Dickinson would go when he got serious about it.

Fair enough, it was 1990!

Christer’s Verdict: 3/6

6/6 Masterpiece
5/6 Great
4/6 Good
3/6 OK
2/6 Disappointing
1/6 Crap

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25 thoughts on “Christer Reviews: Bruce Dickinson – Tattooed Millionaire (1990)

  1. What good album and what surprise . Nothing to do with what Bruce did in Maiden, and the truth is that this ” Tattooed Millionaire” is a good album of hard rock , no doubt, with a good selection of songs.

  2. The album has some good songs, but by and large I agree with Christer. “Son of a gun” has a riff more or less stolen from Deep Purple/Rainbow ( but then again, “everybody” is influced by 70’s hard rock..Rival Sons anyone?) and it cleary shows that Richie Blackmore was Janick Gers’ hero. Noentheless a good track. So is the title track, Born in 58 and Gypsy Road.

    One question arises when revisiting this album, as Christer also touches upon: What the hell happend to Janick Gers’ guitarplaying? From beeing excellent on this album (and on the Gillan album earlier) to be- in my humble opinion- just horrible on pretty much every solo (with a few exeptions) he has ever done in Maiden (his solos on for instance Revelations and Hallowed live just makes me sour). Why he didnt continue with the same quality of work when moving on to Maiden is beyond me.

    Don’t get me wrong- I have nothing against Janick, he seems like a perfectly good gentleman and a stand up guy, but when it comes to his guitarplaying, I just dont get it why he is a member of Iron Maiden. But ‘Arry has made one other strange decisions with Maiden (I.i.e Blaze Bayley) but that’s another cup of tea.

    But the album itself still made me happy when it was released, as I was thrilled to hear that Bruce’s voice was back in full after 5 years of struggling. I am probably gonna be thrown out of this forum after the sentence to come but… Live after death is to me a highly overrated album as Bruce’s voice is so strained on pretty much every song. A great document of that time, but when it comes til liive performances, I always end up with either Beast on the road or Live at Ullevi 2005 as everything is right there…expet Janicks’s solos on the old stuff as mentioned before. Again, thats a different discussion.

    All in all “Tattooed millionaire” showed an energetic (as always) Bruce with his range back vocalwise- which is always magic.

    • I agree with you about Bruce’s singing in 1985. In my opinion Live After Death is saved by the studio overdubs that were done to the vocals in certain songs, and is thus great.

      When it comes to Janick’s guitar work, I could probably mention a few solos I love (Lord Of The Flies and Blood Brothers come to mind), but I agree with you about Revelations. I don’t think Janick has a clue what he’s doing there.

      Everyone agrees that Janick is a great guy, and a lot of people also seem to agree that his best work was done on Tattooed Millionaire. Could it be like Bruce said in 1996 … “I don’t think anybody knows how to get the best out of Janick in the studio in Iron Maiden” …?

      • Overdubbed or not (and although there are some overdubs in “Live after death” there are many less than in seminal classics like Thin Lizzy’s “Studio and dangerous”, Judas Priest’s “Unleashed in the Eastudio” and the series of studio albums titled “Alive!” from Kiss 😆 ), “Live after death” is an all-time live album classic. The whole package (gatefold sleeve, collection of pictures, material recorded) captures the heyday of 80s Maiden and sets the staple of what a hard rock/heavy metal live album should be. We can only fantasise how great it would have been had they used the Hammersmith recordings for the whole album and not only for side 4!

        That being said, if you combine “Flight 666” with “Live at Ullevi 2005” you get an amazing summary of Maiden’s 80s output sung (and arguably played too, probably with the exception of some of Dave’s and Janick’s guitar solos) in a much better way. I am proud and grateful of having been able to enjoy the reunion as much as I have.

    • I never thought Janick was a guitarist up to Adrian Smith, even to Davey. Janick is comfortable, nothing ventured, constantly repeated schemes in the solos, and I’m also convinced that it is unable to reproduce many who have recorded; moreover, he destroys each note recorded by Smith. But he is a nice guy, friendly, do not get into trouble, and supports touring pace; also fulfilled his role with the difficulty of the march of Adrian in 1989 .

      • I agree. His book of tricks is very short indeed. But I’ve met him, and it just confirmed what I had heard – Janick’s a great guy. I think Adrian said it when he claimed that the key to Maiden’s reunion success is actually having Janick in the band, because it’s a new band and not back to the old band, which according to Adrian would have meant a lot of baggage.

        Wait a second … Are YOU Adrian???

  3. I always found son of a gon’s intro similar to the slow part of wasting love witch was also written by dickinson/ gers … Coincidence ?

  4. I agree with the review. It was a fun, playful, but thoughtful project that lacked any kind of real bite. However, I did see Bruce and Janick live during the supporting tour (which is when I met them) and I will tell you, they *owned* that stage! It was Bruce, Janick and…who? Incredible show that made that dull material shine like patent leather pumps on a $5,000 a night hooker. Just incredible.

    It’s very interesting, though; When Janick is performing as lead, he is truly a genuine star. Yet, when I saw him perform with Maiden years later, he looks like the crazy old guy dancing by himself in the corner of the club. It’s quite a testament to the legends when a huge talent like that is dwarfed so…

  5. I enjoy the album but it is certainly my least favourite of Bruce’s solo albums. I quite agree with Christer’s review, but there are some gems there (‘Tattooed millionaire’ and ‘Born in ’58’ are really great).

    Regarding Janick, although I’d rather have Adrian playing his solos, I think he is an outstanding songwriter (some of the best Iron Maiden material post-1992 is his) and a really good guitar player. I sometimes wished he concentrated more on the mellow side of his playing, which is superb, though.

      • ‘Be quick or be dead’, ‘The talisman’, ‘The legacy’, ‘Ghost of the navigator’, ‘Dance of death’, ‘Montsegur’, ‘Lord of the flies’… All of them top drawer material for me and arguably much better than most of what Dave Murray has ever written.

      • Well, it is true that Davey has not written many songs… but their contribution to Maiden transcends this… Dave Murray is one of the biggest culprits of sound and essence of Iron Maiden. It can not be said of Janick Gers, who has contributed more to a dirty sound and inelegant Maiden. And this despite, yes, Gers has co-written good songs: “Be Quick or Be Dead ” , “The Talisman”, “Montsegur “, “The Legacy”, “Dance of Death”… But the fact is that Iron Maiden were leaders of heavy metal when Gers joined them … and that success is due largely to Murray.

  6. @Ghost: You make a great point there! I do think Gers has been part of writing too many of Maiden’s worst ever tracks, but he has also written some of my favourites of the past couple of decades, or of all time for that matter.

    Murray’s best: Still Life, Deja-Vu, The Prophecy, Fates Warning, Judas Be My Guide, Brave New World, Rainmaker.

    Gers’ best: Be Quick Or Be Dead, Lord Of The Flies, Ghost Of The Navigator, Montsegur, Dance Of Death, The Pilgrim, The Legacy, The Talisman.

    Interesting…

    • I would include ‘The thin line between love and hate’ as one of Davey’s best songs. IMHO it is much better than ‘Deja-Vu’ or ‘Fates warning’ (both of these would fall into the fillers category for me).

      Don’t get me wrong, Murray has written some really good songs, but I think Janick is an overall better songwriter.

      • The more I think about this, the more I think there’s no argument when it comes to songwriting – Gers have written more great songs than Murray, and Gers is actually putting in a LOT of songwriting on every album, while Murray isn’t too bothered it seems…

        On that note, what’s the story behind Gers only having ONE writing credit on Virtual XI? If they ever needed his songwriting, that’s the album…

      • @Christer: I guess we will never really know what went on during the writing and recording sessions of such lacklustre album…

  7. Regarding the album-i loved it back i1990 and i love it stil. It sounds to me as a great fun i would say . Born in58 and Tattooed Millionaire are my favs .
    And about Janick i have to say only one thing , i thinks him to be an amazung songwriter

  8. since someone mentioned the lack of janicks writing on viritual xi album. i have always wondered who that guy is whos “playing” instead of janick on this clip from swedish tv. btw, this must be one of the worst songs anyone has ever recorded.. 🙂

    • I honestly don’t remember who he is, but I think it was a bit of a stunt that was done when Janick had to fly home for personal reasons. And personally I would definitely say it’s one of the worst songs Maiden ever recorded, at least…

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