Iron Maiden: The Final Frontier

RIYL: Dream Theatre, Savatage, Queensryche

Looking for another set of covers by an established act? How about a band looking to completely re-invent itself by offering up Bossa Nova versions of its classics (Rundgren did it in 1997 on With a Twist)? That ain’t happening here. Iron Maiden offers up 76 minutes of progressive metal, professionally and unapologetically on the very good The Final Frontier. The shortest track is 4:29, two tracks are slightly over 5:19 and the rest are in the six-to-11-minute range. Frontier has the necessary Maiden ingredients; song titles like “The Alchemist” and “The Talisman,” theatrical vocalizations by Bruce Dickinson, the monster guitar work, the rolling, rumbling bass lines and the kinetic drumming of Nico McBrain.

This is a 2010 release but sounds like a classic. With a loose galactic theme running throughout, Dickinson really lets it fly with his best vocal performance on “Coming Home.” That track joins Bowie’s “Space Oddity” or Planet P’s “Why Me?” in the pantheon of great space pilot songs. One wonders how Dickinson just doesn’t collapse because he sounds as if he puts everything he has in every note. He doesn’t have the vocal pop of Geoff Tate or Rob Halford, but he certainly makes up for it with passion and a delivery that lets it loose at the very edge of his range. As usual, the guitar work – and there is plenty of it as the keyboards are very subtle – from Dave Murray, Adrian Smith and Janick Gers is terrific, coming up with small nuances and solos making the material sound fresh and never tired. The first four minutes of dissonance and drum work from McBrain on “Satellite 15…The Final Frontier” grabs the listener by the throat before breaking into a fabulous rolling metal tune. Several of the songs set up with a slower, more methodical beginning, before the guitars soar and Dickinson’s starts to extend his voice. Maiden’s Frontier is full of delicious progressive work which demonstrates there is plenty of gas left in the old warhorses’ tank. (Columbia Legacy 2010)

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Jimmy Wayne: Do You Believe Me Now?

Every once in a while, some country artist and/or songwriter takes a chance on a song that doesn’t sound like everything else they release. Jimmy Wayne’s “Do You Believe Me Now?” the title track to his latest, and second album, is that song – essentially a great pop song sung with a twangy vocal and a lyrical theme that is left of center (guy sees the way other guy is looking at his girl, and fast-forwards to when he is the odd man out and the other guy has his girl now). Well, that, and the track is as catchy as anything you’ll ever hear. Read his bio, and you won’t help but feel for the guy, who once saw his stepfather shoot (and paralyze) his stepbrother’s wife and then attempt to kill Jimmy too when he was 15. But mostly this is a new country artist (who co-writes most of his material) armed with a solid album of hooky songs that reflect the variety of music his foster parents listened to – Hall & Oates, Alan Jackson, Iron Maiden among them. Other standouts are the breezy “I Will” and sultry semi-ballad “One on One.” With the title track recently hitting #1 on the country charts, the sky is the limit for Jimmy Wayne, and gives hope to some of the lesser-known but promising songwriting talent on Music Row. (Valory Music Co.)

Jimmy Wayne MySpace Page


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