Download who as any fan would surely attest, IS Iron Maiden. The hardened ‘eavy metal war hero turned an ambitious East London pub band into one of the most recognisable, influential and most powerful institutions in modern music, not to mention one of the most successful British musical exports of all time.
Not only that, but as well as being the band’s principal songwriter from day one, Harris’s own relentless, virtuosic bass playing – the pulsating, galloping backbone to Maiden’s many flamboyant, multi-layered epics – helped shape the very landscape of hard rock and metal in the Eighties, influencing hundreds, if not thousands of demonic offspring and continues to be one of the most recognisable facets of the band throughout its 30-plus year tenure.
Right, now that we’ve got that out of the way, we can talk about the matter at hand - Harris’s first ‘solo’ venture, British Lion.
The first thing to note is that to call this a ‘solo’ album would be very misleading. Sure, it says STEVE HARRIS big and bold on the sleeve, but no prizes for guessing why his name takes precedence: this is very much a full band effort with otherwise unknown collaborators.
Far from a solo acoustic affair with Harris spilling his east London drawl over road-weary ballads or tales of fallen soldiers – which would’ve been fucking awesome – British Lion is essentially a hard-rock side-project created in collaboration with old friends, with the only consistent Harrisian hallmark being the aforementioned mighty four-string rumble of the man, high up in the mix so you know who you’re fucking with.
Sadly, the quality of song writing and accompanying musicianship – i.e., everyone except ‘arry - is mediocre at best, and that is, to this fan, very painful indeed. Harris was recently quoted in regards to this new venture as saying 'I could’ve never done this with Maiden', and as you plod through these ten thoroughly average throwbacks, it becomes pretty obvious why.