This triple DVD charts Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson's output as a solo artist, and provides the purchaser with over six hours of live footage, videos and insights.
It follows Bruce from his initial solo forays all the way up to a press kit for his last album - 2005's Tyranny Of Souls. So, check that it's a rainy day, pull up the armchair, crack open a beer, and settle down...
Disc One contains two concerts, six years apart. The first is a copy of the Dive, Dive, Live concert that was recorded as part of the Tattooed Millionaire tour in 1990. This is the weakest show of the anthology, but skip on to Disc Three where two of the promo videos were made from the same footage.
As part of the introductions to these promos, Bruce describes his frustration on how the shoot of this live video was pushed in the wrong direction by a "creative", to the extent that he threw the master tapes in a ditch straight after the gig! Nevertheless, the gig does show an excitable Bruce, free from Iron Maiden, bantering with the crowd (including a dig at the creative) and proud of his new music. And it's definitely worth a look just for the rendition of Fog On The Tyne.
The second concert on Disc One is a very changed Bruce, now fully out of Iron Maiden, and exploring the somewhat grunge-influenced Skunkworks outfit, which didn't really suit his vocals, and was not a commercial success. Still, check out the more relaxed style for songs in this concert compared to the same ones elsewhere in the anthology. Indeed, Bruce himself is more relaxed, with hair shorn, less "Cor blimey guv!" banter and more focus on the music in this performance.
Disc Two contains a Săo Paulo concert from 1999 that was not officially filmed, but uses the live screen feeds to give a grittier feel - something that suits the new heavier style of music that Bruce had progressed on to and looks comfortable with. Brazil is where Bruce has had the most commercial success with his records, and the larger venue plays into his hands - his working of the crowd shows he really is the business when it comes to fronting a band.
Disc Three is the gem of the box. The promo videos are good, but what really makes them are the introductory commentaries that Bruce gives - each one lengthy, insightful and delivered with an unnervingly good camp American accent! The videos themselves go from the high budget, cinematic Tears Of A Crown and Shoot All The Crowns, through late '80s stylised "concept" storylines, to the bog standard "band in front of wind and flames" variety. Bruce directs a few of these, and gives a decent account of himself especially as these were the ones with miniscule budgets.
On the extras side, do not miss the short metal operetta Samson: Biceps Of Steel, which is one of the funniest things I have seen in a long time with an absolutely class early '80s style, crackpot storyline and nutter headbanging (cardboard guitars - yes!).
Ultimately, both diehards and those with a casual interest will find this anthology worth it - a mammoth collection and an intricate personal history of someone who has been in the music industry for nearly 30 years and is, unquestionably, one of the top lead singers this country has produced.