Review: Bruce Dickinson – Scream For Me Brazil (1999)

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At a time when his return to Iron Maiden was already confirmed and launched, Bruce Dickinson recorded and released a live album that would effectively represent the end of his solo career on tour.

Scream For Me Brazil
Released 2 November 1999
Produced by Roy Z

Upon returning to Iron Maiden in early 1999, Bruce Dickinson made no secret of wanting to put the clubs behind him for good. In Brazil he could certainly headline bigger venues as a solo artist, but in general there was no way “Bruce Dickinson” could ever compete with “Iron Maiden with Bruce Dickinson”.

So Dickinson took his well-oiled solo band out for a last hurrah with five shows in Brazil in April 1999 and recorded the final night in São Paulo for Scream For Me Brazil, thus foreshadowing Iron Maiden’s soon-to-be perpetual fixation with live albums and videos recorded in Latin America and to a large degree also aimed at the Latin American market.

The resulting album is certainly a more concise presentation than the meandering Alive In Studio A (1995), but at the same time it is actually a little less interesting.

Dickinson had a very prolific 1990s. He opened it with his debut solo album Tattooed Millionaire (1990) and barged straight on into the Maiden albums No Prayer For The Dying (1990) and Fear Of The Dark (1992). Then deciding to leave Maiden, he came up with Balls To Picasso (1994) and Skunkworks (1996) in an effort to diversify and redirect. When this didn’t satisfy him, he lost little time in going metal again with Accident Of Birth (1997) and The Chemical Wedding (1998) in short order.

In other words, he wrote and recorded seven studio albums in a period of about nine years, either with Maiden or with an assortment of partners on his solo projects, the most important being guitarist and producer Roy Z. Roy’s band Tribe Of Gypsies, including bassist Eddie Casillas and drummer David Ingraham, were basically Bruce’s backing band for the period of 1997-1999, with the crucial addition of guitarist Adrian Smith, who had also returned to Iron Maiden at this point.

Bruce’s band, left to right: Roy Z, Bruce and Adrian, David Ingraham, Eddie Casillas.

Scream For Me Brazil focuses on Dickinson’s then current masterpiece: Seven of its twelve tracks are taken from The Chemical Wedding. An air-raid siren signals Trumpets Of Jericho, both Bruce and band sounding on great form. All the most recent songs work well live, and certainly the Brazilian fans give them an enthusiastic reception, notably on the album’s triumphant nearly-title track Chemical Wedding.

But possibly the biggest attraction of the album is this line-up’s versions of the Balls To Picasso tracks Tears Of The Dragon (seen above) and Laughing In The Hiding Bush, both being given an obviously more metallic approach that probably better reflects how Roy Z originally wanted them to sound. On the other hand, some fans will be disappointed that only three tracks from Accident Of Birth are featured, including a rousing performance of the title track:

Roy Z’s production of the album is recognizably solid, but a funny problem lies therein: Essentially the performances and production are so close to the original album versions that there is a feeling of sameness about it, taking away the potential novelty of live versions. One novelty, though, is Dickinson’s decision to substitute William Blake recitations for between-songs banter in the first half of the album, the poet and painter having been the major inspiration behind The Chemical Wedding‘s lyrics.

The strong presentation also suffers slightly from not being a more complete reflection of the live set that Dickinson performed at the time. It’s understandable that Maiden numbers would be kept for the mothership (although Dickinson must have known that Flight Of Icarus was unlikely to be in Maiden’s set), but it’s a real shame to lose Jerusalem, Tattooed Millionaire and Taking The Queen. The record clocks in at almost 70 minutes as it is, but maybe Tattooed at least would have served to complete the picture better.

Scream For Me Brazil was the last of the pre-reunion Maiden-related records, happening concurrent with the very successul reunion tour that changed Iron Maiden forever. Dickinson and Smith had been writing with Maiden prior to this album’s recording, and they would segue right out of it and into rehearsals for Maiden’s upcoming Ed Hunter Tour in the summer of 1999.

Stay tuned to Maiden Revelations for in-depth looks at the reunion and the albums and tours that would follow it, coming up later this year!

When Scream For Me Brazil was released in late 1999 Dickinson was in the middle of recording his first Iron Maiden album in eight years, 2000’s Brave New World. His solo career was not quite over, there would be further studio collaborations with Roy Z and even a few solo live performances, but as a book-end to the most prolific solo period of his life, Scream For Me Brazil does a good job.

Christer’s verdict: 4/6

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

3 thoughts on “Review: Bruce Dickinson – Scream For Me Brazil (1999)

  1. I don’t mind Roy Z’s production but the album feels inconclusive because of my strong memory of the glorious CW tour gig in Glasgow in ’98. The full set, especially with the extra tracks played in Brazil, would have made for a classic double album.

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