Alcatrazz – Breaking Through The Heart Of The City: The Very Best Of Alcatrazz 1983-1986 (HNE Recordings/Cherry Red)

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In the 80’s Alcatrazz were poised for big things. Charismatic vocalist Graham Bonnet was re-capturing his former glory days of Rainbow, teaming up with (then unknown and relatively young) Swedish guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen. It was to prove a collaboration of uncompromising song writing, evident already in the band’s radiant debut record No Parole From Rock ‘n’ Roll.  Disc one of this 3-set box cherry picks seven of these rock gems along with six tracks from the 1984 live show in Japan – excellent sound quality makes the entirety really listenable whilst diehard fans will relish the three instrumental demos from 1983 and also the Yngwie Malmsteen audition recording of S.O.S. which happens to be tagged onto the end of this seventeen track CD. The demo recordings are of good quality, and capture the raw ideas Alcatrazz were conjuring from day one; even picking up some of the between song banter. Disc two mixes seven tracks from the 1985 Disturbing The Peace album, where Bonnet and Co were now joined by guitar virtuoso Steve Vai, as the young Malmsteen, had now ventured out as a solo artist.  These tracks are followed by eight songs from 1986’s Dangerous Games. The tracks are good, but the third record seems to lack some of the impact created by the former two releases. Graham Bonnet is as tight a performer as ever and leads the band superbly but there is definitely no Island in the Sun, or Hiroshima Mon Amour etc. Six previously unreleased demos/rehearsals of significant sound quality once again insert a nice touch, adding value to the package to ensure a worthwhile purchase. Quite possibly though, the real jewel in this clam box set is the third and final CD. For fans of the band, and those especially interested in Yngwie and that era, the twelve tunes, also previously unreleased, capture sessions from 1983 giving an insight into the progress and arrangements for what was to be the No Parole From Rock ‘n’ Roll debut. Classic stuff and quintessentially important for those aware of the history of Alcatrazz. As expected from HNE now, we get that all important sixteen page booklet of interviews, artwork, and time relevant images to immerse oneself amongst as the story unfolds. For those who are not familiar with the band, it has to be said, this is also a great starting point to discover one of the concealed treasures of the 80’s. Alcatrazz weren’t just good, they were on fire!   Mark Freebase

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