Chris Dale's "Inside The Skunkworks Machine"

This is a self-published book about Chris Dale’s entire experience being part of Bruce’s solo band.

It’s an oversized paperback, nearly a square foot in size and over 350 pages, so it’s firmly in coffee table book territory. The cover is nice and glossy, and the interior pages look like the usual matte output from a good quality color laser printer, which makes sense since these books are printed on demand. The book is peppered with candid photos on nearly every page, and they look good enough, though they’re not like the glossy fancy-paper photos you’d get in a hardcover book.

The book itself draws most of its content from the Skunkworks group discussion on Facebook, though there are some excerpts from reviews and standalone articles included as well. Since I’m not on Facebook I’ve never read any of this stuff before, so most of it was new and interesting for me; but if you’ve already been paying attention to that group for years, then your mileage may vary.

The book addresses literally everything related to the Skunkworks-era line-up of the band, from the rehearsals to become Bruce’s backing band on the Balls To Picasso tour, through all of that tour and the famous trip to Sarajevo, the recording of the Skunkworks album and subsequent tour, the end of the band, the semi-reformation of the band for Bruce’s 2002 solo tour, the filming of Scream For Me Sarajevo, and some extra bits about Sack Trick, Skin, and more, along with some general Q&A. The chapters are put together chronologically, and the text flows really well as an ongoing conversation between different people. Some of it reads like Q&A, other parts like a conversation with multiple people chiming in, but it all feels very natural. Chris Dale is very open and honest about the whole thing, including both positive and negative review comments, and contrasting views from the band and others about how certain things played out.

Chris kept a pretty detailed diary of events through this whole period, so no stone is left unturned. There’s lots of commentary from people who were part of the crew, or just in the orbit of the band members in some way, so it really feels like an organic conversation between fans, crew, and the band. That said, Alex Dickson and Bruce didn’t make a lot of direct contributions to the content of the book, so most of what they have to say inside comes from interviews or third-party accounts.

Personally, I loved the book and all of its behind-the-scenes anecdotes, and I feel like it’s essential reading for fans of that era of Bruce’s solo career unless they’ve already followed the Skunkworks Facebook group closely. And even for people who’ve read most of the content before, they might like having all of it condensed and arranged in chronological order in book form like this.

So, yeah, totally worth the $40 for me. But full disclosure, I also paid $70 for the Skunkworks Live video on VHS back in 1997, so my financial radar may be tuned differently from yours on this subject!

It’s a very fun book for sure with lots of interesting stories and details in it. And fun ones, like the one where Chris met Janick Gers in the metro without knowing who he was, before Janick had joined Maiden.

The dialogue style in theory makes it a light read, but I think it gets pretty heavy in the long run. Not sure if this is a must read for hard core fans, but it certainly pays off to be a hard core fan if you do read it.

Lots of tragic stuff in there as well, obviously because the whole Sarajevo trip.

But sort of sad content in a more personal level also. How the “project” called Skunkworks never seemed to take off – commercially I mean, as the album is great! But with Chris and the two Alex’s bonding and just playing, playing, playing all the time, playing Alex’s songs, playing KISS songs, and eventually playing what was to be Sack Trick material… and at some point, Bruce showing up, singing a set length of songs and disappearing again.

Or Alex Dickson asking Chris for riffs or something, even though he did not need any help with songwriting – just to get Chris a songwriting credit or two, so it would look more like a real band.

Disappointing attitude from the record company, and also from Bruce, I suppose. (It has to be said though, that what Bruce did after Skunkworks, was not very disappointing to me…)

I too love Chris’s openness regarding the whole project. Never met him, but I like him. A great bassist too.

And in the book, we also get some interesting insight to Alex Elena’s character. Maybe the song about him doesn’t represent him too well…?

I’ll read it again at some point. Not sure what I paid for it, but it was worth it.

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I paid the same and I still have it up in the attic. I think I spent $90 on the Live at Donington 1992 Japanese VHS.

As for the book, I’m about halfway through. I like it quite a bit, but my reading time is pretty limited, since most of my free time is eaten up by either kids or writing.

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