SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Alcatrazz Disturbing The Peace deluxe edition and Dangerous Games expanded edition cd’s

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Having previously brought you the albums ‘No Parole From Rock & Roll’ and ‘Live Sentance’. The re-issue campaign concludes with ‘Disturbing The Peace’ and ‘Dangerous Games’. As I have already mentioned Alcatrazz are my all time favourite metal band of the 80’s. So, After the incendiary debut of NPFR&R the second studio album appeared in 1984. Major changes had occurred, changes of management, record labels and crucially the departure (sacking) of enfant terrible Yngwie Malmsteen. In came on guitar the inspired choice of Steve Vai (ex Frank Zappa) and later to grace David Lee Roth and Whitesnake. And as Graham Bonnet himself opined now they were a band not a showcase for vocals and flashy guitar shreds. I think i’d agree in part, Vai plays WITH the band and the result is more cohesive and the results can be heard.
Kicking off with ‘God Blessed Video’ (a track I have opened so many rock radio shows with!) it sets the tone, melodic metal that grabs you by the throat with Bonnets unique vocal, Vai’s guitar and some great drum work from Jan Uvena. Its MTV friendly (well it was the 80’s!) and indeed enjoyed heavy rotation. ‘The Stripper’ and ‘Painted Lover’ are two more throat grabbers, buts its not all breakneck pace ‘Will You Be Home Tonight’ and ‘Desert Diamond’ show off Graham’s broad vocal range and not just the ‘scream style’ he often gets saddled with. DTP has been released before but never in a package as good as this, the audio disc has Bonus tracks and instrumental demo’s, not entirely essential but nonetheless great to have. And what is really great to have is the 2nd DVD disc featuring the band in concert in Tokyo (where they were and still are huge) in 1984. The concert features tracks from both NPFR&R and DTP, ‘Night Games’ and ‘All Night Long’ from Grahams other incarnations. After years of shoddy bootleg footage this is a huge bonus. All in all a lavish package that at last does Alcatrazz justice.

And so to the third (and last) studio album released in 1986. The revolving door has revolved yet again and Steve Vai has departed (with an offer he couldn’t refuse) to hook up with David Lee Roth. Ok Alcatrazz was always built around Bonnet its just a pity Vai couldn’t remain and cement the work on DTP. However it wasn’t to be so in came Danny Johnson (ex Rick Derringer, Alice Cooper and Rod Stewart). Whilst his playing is by no means bad following Malmsteen and Vai is pretty daunting! The bands record label (Capitol) wanted them to move in a more ‘commercial’ direction. Wrong! Ah well just my opinion. DG has its highlights kicking off with a cover of The Animals ‘Its My Life’ (co-incidentally my favourite Animals track) its a ballsy start, but even for this self confessed die hard fan its all a bit lacklustre compared to the two previous albums. ‘Ohayo Tokyo’ and title track ‘Dangerous Games’come over well but it all seems too little too late. The inclusion of Grahams (Marbles hit) ‘Only One Woman’ reeks of the record company pedestrian thinking..well it was a hit before…and although Bonnet shows he can still hit the notes it doesn’t better the original in my book. On the plus side this release does include some ‘live’ bonus tracks which is cool and welcome and again makes this the most complete release of DG.
So there we have it the completion of the back catalogue of Alcatrazz and notwithstanding the rather (to me) disappointing end that was DG, they were and remain my favourite metal band despite the often confusing path trodden! If you buy one album NPFR&R would be top of my list. And in conclusion kudos to HNE (Hear No Evil Recordings) for doing such a fine job.

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I’ll see you soon with a career spanning compilation of Unit 4 + 2 and a 3CD compilation of 70’s psyche/heavy rock, featuring a certain well known local band!??…..answers/guesses on a postcard….. Til then, Colincolin-head-111x150-111x150

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