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Like Dickinson’s previous record, 1990’s Tattooed Millionaire, 1994’s Balls To Picasso strayed from the roots of Iron Maiden even further. The record pushed the envelope a bit too far. You have the additions of ace guitarist Roy Z and with Z came his “Tribe Of Gypsies” band, featuring Eddie Cassillais on bass, David Ingram on drums, and a percussionist named Doug Van Booven. This caused uplift in the band’s style, mixing in reggae and Latino elements. The end result was defiantly Bruce’s worst solo record, save for the epic final track. Balls To Picasso is plagued by crap production and just terrible songwriting. Overall, this one is not very recommended to anyone, let me tell you why.
The album kicks off with the average sounding “Cyclops”, which is the better of most of the songs on the album. The song does drone on for about 7 and a half minutes though. The next 15 or so minutes are filled with droning music that I feel the need to constantly skip through on my CD player, or fast forward on my cassette player. Songs like “Hell No” begin to wear the Latino flair a bit too much. “1000 Points Of Light” is the next song of mention. It begins to go back to the “metalness” of the album’s opener, yet the song is plagued by funky sounding percussion gimmicks. After that, you get a horrendous version of “Laughing In Hiding Bush”. The song is again plagued by percussion gimmicks which ruin it all. It makes it sound like a Mexican village trying to attempt music! “Shoot All The Clowns” is a song that is worthy of mention. The song sounds like Latino Aerosmith. The song is straight forward rock and roll, without the drumming gimmicks. After this, the album begins to drop off a lot, only to pick way up with the album’s epic closer “Tears Of The Dragon”. This is easily the best song off the album. The song is devoid of any percussion gimmicks, which is a good thing, in fact. It is a really great way to end the album. In my opinion, this is what most albums like this should have. This is what saves an album such as this from being a total failure.
Although it strays a bit too far from what Bruce did in Maiden, you are not at a total loss if you purchase it. If you do in fact purchase it, buy the two disc, expanded edition, which has some amazing outtakes that would have saved this album from such a low rating. This is not really recommended to anyone who has any heart for Maiden. This is way too far removed from anything that Dickinson has done in his past career. The only things that save it from a zero is Shoot All The Clowns, Cyclops, 1000 Points Of Light and Tears Of The Dragon.