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STEVE HARRIS – British Lion

| 13 October 2012 | Reply

Label: EMI
Released: September 2012
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar

You never know what you’re going to get when a “name” muso decides to release a solo album – will it be a Dave Grohl-ish “I played all the instruments myself” exercise in control-freakery, a Santana/Slash-esque trawl through the phone book for guest stars, a semi-acoustic collection of reflections on a life lived on the road with the band, or enlisting old friends for a completely different project (and possibly beyond)?

Steve Harris, known to millions as bass player and leader-in-all-but-name of Iron Maiden, has chosen to go down the latter route on this, his first album outside the confines of his beloved Maiden.

Apparantly the result of a long gestation period – singer Richard Taylor and guitarist/keyboard player David Hawkins sent Harris some songs a few years back, and once downtime was found, here we have them.  Grahame Leslie chips in on guitar on a few songs, and Simon Dawson rounds out the line-up on drums (though 3 drummers and another guitarist played on the record over the 10 songs).

There’s little sign of Harris’s trademark galloping bass lines – which is understandable:  this is meant to be a project far removed from his day job, after all.  There’s also little sign of the brilliant songwriting we are used to from him, despite a co-writing credit on every song.

Overall the songs simply aren’t strong enough, with the exception of a few: Us Against The World, The Chosen Ones’s 80’s chart rocker, the near metal Judas and the Reckless-era-Bryan Adams-ish (no, not joking!) Eyes Of The Young.

The rest aren’t BAD songs – they just lack the weight, energy and power to stand out in any way at all.  And even the better songs are held back by Taylor’s vocals, which are – to be blunt – weak.  He sounds like any of a hundred mid-Eighties poodle permed soft rockers of nondescript origins who are now sales reps and plumbers and bartenders.

What seems most obvious is that Harris wanted this to be a band project, stepping back a little from controlling every little detail as he does with Maiden, and having fun with a band with little expectations.  No doubt it was fun and there is some merit here, but by labelling it a Steve Harris solo album instead of one by the band British Lion (as they are credited on the inner sleeve) the record company or management have ironically created far more weight of expectation upon the album, which it does not live up to.

A true Steve Harris solo album could be something special indeed, but we’ll have to wait a while longer for that and make do with this side project instead for now.  Just imagine how it might have sounded with a more powerful vocalist, and someone of the calibre of Kevin Shirley producing instead of just mixing the record…

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Category: CD Reviews

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