There are three "book of the year" for this year 2011. Not really Oprah's list or New York bestsellers list, but mine haha.
1) Best local book in Singapore & Malaysia goes to the Sweet Charity 40 years Esplanade gig hardcover coffee table book.
2) The unreleased John McMurtrie hardcover photo coffee table book coming out will be amazing about his travels with Maiden on and of stage all over the world, on the air and on the ground, from 2008 to 2011.
3) Steve Harris The Clairvoyant.
So this is short take on this Steve Harris the Clairvoyant book.
When I first heard of this book about Steve Harris being written by a Maiden fan in Croatia, I was apprehensive. I thought its going to be the old boring formula of "writers digging out old and new articles from all over, translate where necessary, edit it and released it in book form and claiming credit for it", although in this case, one of the reason I take note of the book in the Maiden forum is because the writer is a genuine Maiden fan and not some writers who is writing whatever is the flavour of the month band.
But then once I realise Stipe aka MaidenCroatia is doing something unbelievable that is to really travel outside of Croatia wherever possible, make phone calls to places everywhere - to get fresh interviews from legendary and famous personalities, people who is close or used to be closed to Steve Harris, ex-Maiden band and crew members, and also Maiden fans all over the world who had great and unheard ( at least for me ) stories to share, I knew I had to get a copy. When placing a copy back then, it was more of a " show of morale-support for this Croatian fan than anything else". In fact I was one of the early birds so I got the so called Birthday Edition with the number 029 out of 55.
When I get the book, I realise this book is actually fascinating. It makes the term " done with lots of love for fellow fans " come true. Hard cover, 300 pages ( I think my copy is one of the rare missing some text at the end copy but that dont spoil the book at all as I am not aware of it at all at first ), I realise the binding is really high quality, the paper too and the printing and everything, and all these from a fan of the band. Plus I got a cd with some audio interviews.
And when I start to read, it becomes very absorbing, and I got to take time to digest, page by page, paragraph by paragraph because most of the content is attractive and informative to me.
So I am really glad I got this book, yes, its not cheap, but this is a sort of "self-financed book in very very limited copy that you can only get direct from the writer in a faraway land of Croatia".
Some of the interesting info from this book, I try not to disclose to much as it will be a spoiler to those who are in the process of getting this book.
- This book is not exactly a sort of a biography book.
- Dave Lights went way back with Steve, and I like his info regarding the history tours was already seems wanted to be done in the mid 90s ( Blaze Era?!!? ), and the history of the stage lights that Maiden used. ( like I did blog before, on the first Final Frontier show I see in Singapore, I spent most of Talisman just awe-struck by the lighting design ). And also the breakdown with Maiden.
- Lauren Harris - I super freaking love Rainbow the band. And to have Steve Harris mentioned in the way he does to Lauren about Russ Ballard shows that the Harris family has great taste haha.
- Keith Wilfort, ( he dont know me, but when I was a school boy long time ago, he sent me a card to reject my request of Maiden lyrics after I wrote a letter to the fanclub long ago, and I still keep it haha ) has the old stories of early days. Interesting.
- Slaven Bilic talks about Steve too, yes, I think West Ham United is every Maiden's fan second favourite club, or at least the club they most sympathise with. I think Steve is surely sad they're relegated. But I do hope Arsenal sign that Scott Parker guy.
His story about meeting Steve at Upton Park is fascinating for any Maiden and English football follower.
- Dennis Stratton relating about Maiden and Kiss is great because I love Kiss.. whatever the incarnation , whatever the lineup. This book content makes me appreciates Dennis Straton more.
- The early Maiden members, the ex-crew members, the staffs at recording studio that did Soundhouse Tapes and the RIR DVD guy. I didnt know all these "Strange World" song issue before reading this book and would love to see the way Rock In Rio DVD was originally intended to be. These chapters about these guys are so informative to me. Now I know what Strange World lyrics is intepreted to be haha.
- The writer himself Stipe has direct involvement in many ways with Maiden and Steve, makes very good reading. The band he manages opens for Maiden with a lot of surprises and twists here and there in their experience with Maiden.
- Plus lots of other stories, as its actually 300 pages plus minus with many interesting photos.
- Neal Kay, this legendary person who I think all of us have read or watch on dvd his contributions to the British rock and metal scene of his Bandwagon era, I think this book is worth getting just for the Neal Kay chapters. Neal Kay plays a huge part in Maiden early success and his stories here are so fantastic. Motorhead Lemmy comments to him in regards to Maiden, the air-guitars, the Bandwagon and Soundhouse itself, the KK Downing " attacking " whom he thought was Dave Murray story, the Judas Priest problems with Maiden issue, and lots more. I really like it. Also his Steve Harris recruiting Blaze Bailey story and everything Blaze that he mentioned is just " different " haha... Hope Neal Kay has more to offer to Stipe for the next few books.
Some of the Maiden fans all over the world are in this book, reading about their stories about Steve Harris is fantastic, the drawings that seems alive, the long term dedication and loyalty, the pain, major depressing dissapointments and struggle and all the travelling ( with little or no money, I think I can relate to it haha ) in being a Maiden supporter, the military stories like the Challenger tank involving Steve, and not forgetting the Cree tribe family story.
It would be nice to have Derek Riggs and Martin Birch views definitely, maybe next time?
I do hope to get the Adrian Smith book, which will be the next one Stipe is writting. Would be awesome if there is a story about the person who is the reference for the Stranger in a Strange Land song.
All in all, the content of the book and the quality of the hard cover and binding makes this book a collectible for any Maiden fan.