Alcatrazz: ‘The Ultimate Fortress Rock Set’

Alcatrazz CD coverALCATRAZZ
THE ULTIMATE FORTRESS ROCK SET
Released on March 25, 2016 (MVD)

Review:
If you’re a regular reader of the site, I don’t have to explain much about Alcatrazz; but I will because I can’t assume everyone is more than a casual rock fan. Alcatrazz was formed by singer Graham Bonnet after his departure from the Michael Schenker Group. Bonnet recorded Assault Attack (1982) with Schenker before being asked to exit shortly thereafter. Bonnet had already worked with Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow on 1979’s Down To Earth before moving on from that band.

In 1983, Bonnet along with keyboardist Jimmy Waldo and bassist Gary Shea formed Alcatrazz and enlisted guitarist budding Yngwie Malmsteen who had recently split from the Mike Varney act Steeler (which featured Ron Keel). Alcatrazz was launched with the release of their debut album No Parole From Rock ‘N’ Roll which anchors the six disc set The Ultimate Fortress Rock Set. With tracks like “Island In The Sun,” “General Hospital,” Jet To Jet,” “Hiroshima Mon Amour,” “Big Foot,” and “Starcarr Lane,” the debut is an instant underground classic. The version in this set also includes ten demos of the songs that would make it onto the debut album. Don’t expect clear, bombastic sound quality here. They are bootleg quality at best; though I must say that they are not as terrible sonically as I expected.

Also included is the live record Live Sentence which was recorded in Tokyo, Japan in 1983, which showcases the band’s chemistry live in front of an enthusiastic Japanese audience. The DVD [disc six] also includes the video of the Live Sentence album as well as the performance ten months later in October of 1984 in Tokyo, Japan with Steve Vai. Obviously, these two shows can’t compete with today’s DVDs but you get a snapshot of two of this generation’s virtuosos in their early beginnings — in the same band at that.

Disturbing The Peace is underrated  in comparison to the Yngwie album. The record was issued in 1985 and was produced by Eddie Kramer (Jimi Hendrix, KISS). The album features the single and video “God Blessed Video.” The album went virtually ignored and before you knew it, Steve Vai split to work with David Lee Roth on Eat ‘Em And Smile, which went on to sell millions. Disturbing The Peace appears in expanded form with the original album along with two bonus cuts from Tomorrow’s Outlook featuring Bonnet on vocals. Those tracks are out of place as is an Alcatrazz interview from 1983.

Having lost both Yngwie and Vai and then watching each of them move on to bigger and better things must have been disheartening for Bonnet; but he persevered. Alcatrazz resurfaced in 1986 with new guitarist Danny Johnson and a new album Dangerous Games. Alcatrazz retained Wendy Dio as manager and the band hoped to finally get their big break. Alcatrazz took a slight turn in direction from their previous efforts on that album. The record in short wasn’t very good and by that point, any or all interest in the band stateside had dissipated. Dangerous Games (disc four) in this set features three bonus tracks that aren’t Alcatrazz songs but do feature Bonnet on vocals.

Alcatrazz & The Graham Bonnet Band [disc five] features a performance with Yngwie Malmsteen from The Country Club, recorded in California in 1983. Pure gold, much like the Live Sentence album. In addition, the disc features six additional tracks (Escape from Alcatrazz) recorded live by Bonnet’s solo band in Japan (in June 2015). Good stuff all around on this disc for the diehard Yngwie and Bonnet fanatics.

In the end, there are two types of people who will appreciate The Ultimate Fortress Rock Set enough to purchase it; the Yngwie/Vai geeks or the Bonnet fans. Anyone else will likely look at this on an online store or record store and keep walking. It’s a shame that Alcatrazz went to bat three times with two different virtuosos and then with a ‘good’ guitarist and struck out all three times. It simply wasn’t meant to be. Ironically, the label that issued the No Parole From Rock ‘N’ Roll and Live Sentence was Grand Slamm Records. You have got to see the humor in that with the aforementioned records being the jewels in this collection.

Disc 1 CD) — No Parole For Rock N’ Roll:
01. Island In The Sun
02. General Hospital
03. Jet To Jet
04. Hiroshima Mon Amour
05. Kree Nakoorie
06. Incubus
07. Too Young To Die, Too Drunk To Live
08. Big Foot
09. Starcarr Lane
10. Suffer Me
Bonus Tracks – Original Instrumental Demo Sessions:
11. Kree Nakoorie
12. Starcarr Lane
13. Island In The Sun
14. Big Foot
15. Hiroshima Mon Amour
16. General Hospital
17. Incubus
18. Suffer Me
19. Too Young To Die, Too Drunk To Live
20. Jet To Jet

Disc 2 (CD) — Live Sentence — Nakano Sun Plaza, Tokyo — January 1984:
01. Too Young To Die, Too Drunk To Live
02. Hiroshima Mon Amour
03. Night Games
04. Big Foot
05. Island In The Sun
06. Kree Nakoorie
07. Coming Bach
08. Since You’ve Been Gone
09. Suffer Me
10. Desert Song
11. Evil Eye
12. Guitar Crash
13. All Night Long
14. Lost In Hollywood
15. Kojo No Tsuki
16. Somethin’ Else

Disc 3 (CD) — Disturbing The Peace:
01. God Blessed Video
02. Mercy
03. Will You Be Home Tonight
04. Wire And Wood
05. Desert Diamond
06. Stripper
07. Painted Lover
08. Lighter Shade Of Green
09. Sons And Lovers
10. Skyfire
11. Breaking The Heart Of The City
Bonus Tracks — Tomorrow’s Outlook feat. Graham Bonnet:
12. Glass Mountain
13. Red Rum
14. Alcatrazz Interview from 1983

Disc 4 (CD) — Dangerous Games:
01. It’s My Life
02. Undercover
03. That Ain’t Nothin’
04. No Imagination
05. Ohayo Tokyo
06. Dangerous Games
07. Blue Boar
08. Only One Woman
09. Witchwood
10. Double Man
11. Night Of The Shooting Star
Bonus Tracks:
12. All Night Long (feat. George Lynch) ‘Wind In The Willows’ – Hardin & York feat. Graham Bonnet
13. The Badger
14. The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn

Disc 5 (CD) — Bonus Tracks:
Alcatrazz & The Graham Bonnet Band Live At The Country Club, Raseda California – Alcatrazz – 1983:
01. Too Young To Die, Too Drunk To Live
02. General Hospital
03. Kree Nakoorie
04. Island In The Sun
05. Evil Eye
06. Since You’ve Been Gone
07. Hiroshima Mon Amour
08. Suffer Me
09. Desert Song
10. Jet To Jet
Escape From Alcatrazz – The Graham Bonnet Band. Japan – June 2015:
11. All Night Long
12. Love’s No Friend
13. Since You’ve Been Gone
14. Suffer Me
15. Night Games
16. Lost In Hollywood

Disc 6 (DVD) – 2 Live Concerts plus Bonus Footage:
Nakano Sun Plaza, Tokyo – January 1984:
01. Too Young To Die, Too Drunk To Live
02. Hiroshima Mon Amour
03. Night Games
04. Big Foot
05. Island In The Sun
06. Kree Nakoorie
07. Coming Bach
08. Since You’ve Been Gone
09. Suffer Me
10. Desert Song
11. Evil Eye
12. Guitar Crash
13. All Night Long
14. Lost In Hollywood
15. Kojo No Tsuki
16. Somethin’ Else
Shinjuku Koseinenkin-Kaikan, Tokyo – October 1984:
17. Breaking The Heart Of The City
18. Jet To Jet
19. Skyfire
20. Sons And Lovers
21. Hiroshima Mon Amour
22. God Blessed Video
23. Will You Be Home Tonight
24. Kree Nakoorie
25. Since You’ve Been Gone
26. Painted Lover
27. Suffer Me
28. Stripper
29. Too Young To Die, Too Drunk To Live
30. Kojo No Tsuki
31. Night Games
32. All Night Long
Bonus Footage – Rock Palace:
33. Too Young To Die, Too Drunk To Live
34. Hiroshima Mon Amour
35. Island In The Sun
Bonus Footage – Original Promo Videos:
36. Island In The Sun
37. Hiroshima Mon Amour
38. God Blessed Video
39. Graham Bonnet Japanese TV Interview 1983

Band Members — No Parole For Rock N Roll / Live Sentence / Nakano Sun Plaza, Tokyo – January 1984 (DVD):
Graham Bonnet – lead vocals
Clive Burr – drums, percussion
Yngwie Malmsteen – guitars, ukulele
Gary Shea – bass, double bass, backing vocals
Jimmy Waldo – keyboards, synthesizers, keytar, piano, backing vocals

Band Members — Disturbing The Peace / Shinjuku Koseinenkin-Kaikan, Tokyo – October 1984:
Graham Bonnet – vocals
Steve Vai – guitar, backing vocals
Gary Shea – bass
Jan Uvena – drums, backing vocals
Jimmy Waldo – keyboards, backing vocals

Band Members — Dangerous Games:
Graham Bonnet – vocals
Danny Johnson – guitar, backing vocals
Gary Shea – bass
Jan Uvena – drums, percussion, backing vocals
Jimmy Waldo – keyboards, backing vocals

Production:
No Parole For Rock N Roll / Live Sentence produced by Dennis Mackay
Disturbing The Peace produced by Eddie Kramer
Dangerous Games produced by Rick Polodor

Reviewed by Ruben Mosqueda for Sleaze Roxx, July 2016

Alcatrazz‘s “God Blessed Video” video:

Alcatrazz – God Blessed Video

1st Video Clip from DISTURBING THE PEACE 1985

Alcatrazz‘s “Island In The Sun” live in Japan in 1984:

Alcatrazz – Island in the Sun

Live version of the track Island in the Sun from Japan in ’84. Yngwie is awesome – Graham Bonnet is not really at his best.