This is the eighteenth of the “50 Albums to Christmas 2019” series.
The end, as it were, had been telegraphed for months. After a couple of years of growing dissatisfied with the direction Iron Maiden was taking, their singer Bruce Dickinson announced he would leave after finishing the tour for then current album Fear of the Dark. One very awkward tour indeed and a TV special on the BBC which ended with his being decapitated later, Bruce was free to go his own way.
A previous solo album, Tattooed Millionnaire, indicated one way he might go and indeed it was (eventually) but this first post-Maiden record saw a classic course overcorrection to steer away from previous work and forge its own path. Here then was the band Skunkworks self-titled debut (but with Bruce’s name atop the album sleeve presumably so the music label would consent to stock it), a concept album about the space race and living beyond Earth. It was clean, slightly prog in its ambition and clearly neither Maiden nor grunge nor anything else of its time. Just Bruce’s air-raid siren vocals presented on a pristine platter and all the better for the presentation. A clear vision for an album that clearly warranted more success than it got.
Bruce didn’t like it though and jacked it in to go back to the Tattooed style of classic rock with ex-Maiden guitarist Adrian Smith before they both went back to Maiden in 2000. Sigh. Skunkworks is still fab though whether he likes it or not.