I’ve been enjoying the new Iron Maiden album, in particular the closing epic “Empire of the Clouds” about the R101 airship disaster – and thanks to @almost-simon for the link to the Talk Is Jericho interview with Dickinson, which discussed the track at length.
It brought to mind the books that I inherited as a child from my father’s boyhood library; hardbacks with those extravagantly colour-saturated front covers and shiny plates of b&w photos of the mechanical and engineering triumphs of the age, and a Readers’ Digest children’s anthology that contained tales of Shackleton’s ill-fated Trans-Antarctic expedition and Dick Grace, a 1920’s stunt pilot famed for crashing his plane into buildings. Even in the stories of tragedy there was a sense of pride in the endeavours, an aspiration to push man and technology to see what could be achieved. I suppose ‘Boys’ Own’ is not a bad description of what I mean.
Public Service Broadcasting’s “Spitfire” evokes this spirit well, as does another Maiden number of “Aces High”, about the Battle of Britain. Another is Marillion’s “Out of this World”, about Donald Campbell’s fatal water speed record attempt (in fact it was the song that led to » Continue Reading.