ALCATRAZZ - Parole Denied – Tokyo 2017
December 24, 2018, a month ago
Nostalgia fever, as Graham Bonnet (fresh from his initial reunion stint w/ Michael Schenker) opted to head overseas (where Alcatrazz were always a bigger deal), with original Trazzers Jimmy Waldo (keyboards) and Gary Shea (bass), in tow, for a string of dates in three cities, capped by the trio's first time onstage together (in Japan), since '84. In addition to a live disc, touching on all three ‘80s studio efforts, Bonnet includes a second CD, of unreleased demo tracks. Topping things off, there's also a DVD, from the night in the capital city.
Back in the day, most of the excitement surrounding the post-MSG singer centered on upstart guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen, fresh from introducing himself to Anglo speaking metal audiences, via the Steeler record. He quickly exited (was jettisoned?) from Alcatrazz, but not before a January '84 live recording that was released as Live Sentence, prior to another (then relatively unknown) burner, Steve Vai joined the fold. Vai didn't last long either, opting for a big profile with David Lee Roth's solo band. The final straw, without a hotshot guitarist, Dangerous Games (a 1986 stab at hair metal, filled with guest-writer material) is largely forgotten, although four songs appear within this compilation: two live and demos of a different pair.
About half of the eleven onstage cuts are culled from the debut, which sounds so dated today. At the time, we were excited by the flash and ability of newboy Malmsteen (“Jet To Jet” or “Too Young To Die, Too Drunk To Live”), but the intervening years of thrash/speed, death and black metal, have muted such enthusiasm. Now these come off as poppy (at best) if not slowed ballads. The eight “bonus” cuts, on CD #2, offer nothing powerful, just some third rate, keyboard dominated soundtrack fodder/Survivor clones. Closer to Shea/Waldo's tenure with ‘70s near miss New England, than the burgeoning ‘80s Sunset Strip brigade. May be of interest to diehard fans (have you ever met a diehard Alcatrazz fan? Bonnet, yes. Malmsteen, of course), but there's a reason they've laid dormant/unheard for more than three decades. Strongly would recommend Bonnet's energetic 2018 disc: Meanwhile, Back In The Garage, over this.