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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews


The Official Bootleg Set 1983-1986: Live, Demos, Rehearsals

Review by Gary Hill

This massive six-CD set (as you might guess) compiles some bootleg recordings. The first three discs are made up of three live shows from 1984, with some bonus studio out-take tracks, the other three contain all studio out-takes of the demo and instrumental variety. I'd have to say that this is certainly for hardcore Alcatrazz fans, as the casual ones probably would find it a bit tedious and prefer more polished music. Still, you really can't beat the massive quantity of stuff presented here. The recording quality is not up the par of professional release ("bootleg," right?) but I've heard far worse bootlegs. This is definitely listenable from start to finish. Each CD is included in a cardboard sleeve, and there is a massive booklet. It's all encased in a clamshell box, making for a cool package.

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Track by Track Review
Live at Abbey Road, Lubbock, Texas, 9th March 1984
Too Drunk to Live, Too Young to Die (Excerpt)
This fades up mid-track just in time for some scorching guitar soloing. The group jam out from there into the song proper. The sound quality leaves something to be desired.
Hiroshima Mon Amour
The sound somehow seems a bit better as this number powers out. Killer guitar work is on the menu in the opening portion of the cut. It works to more of a mainstream hard rocker as it continues from there.
Big Foot
I love the sounds that open this. At first it's quite proggy, but it shifts toward some serious metal from there. It evolves to more of an AOR metal tune. This really rocks.
Island in the Sun
Another hard rocker with some killer metal guitar built into it, this works really well.
Kree Nakoorie
The opening keyboard section on this calls to mind Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells." The track builds into some pounding metal as that bit continues to drive forward. There is some killer power metal built into this stomper. The ends with a guitar solo bit that sets things up for the next track.
Guitar Solo
This guitar solo is full of passion and technique. Those two things are not always delivered in tandem. I know a lot of times people accuse Malmsteen of playing without passion. It's clearly not true here. The solo turns quite classical at times. It gets some augmentation at times from synthesizer. The balance between mellower and more fiery is great. The talking in the audience gets pretty annoying on this number.
Since You Been Gone
Here they bring the song Bonnet did with Rainbow to life in style. This is a powerhouse rocker.
Suffer Me
This number is a power ballad. It's performed here with a lot of passion and power. It's a killer tune.
Desert Song
Coming from the Michael Schenker catalog, this tune is a real screamer. Unfortunately, the sound drops out drastically at the start. It recovers a bit mid-track, but I really wish this metal romp would have been recorded better from start to finish because it's on fire.
Jet to Jet
Another furious and potent metal stomper, this is a strong tune. It reminds me quite a bit of Rainbow, but with more of a metal edge. There is some powerhouse neo-classical guitar soloing built into this beast.
All Night Long
Screaming hot party metal is on the menu here. This rocker is an effective tune. This is a killer performance, too.
Lost in Hollywood
Another screaming hot AOR metal stomper, this is energized and classy. It has some of that Rainbow element at play for sure. There is some powerhouse guitar soloing built into this thing, too. Unfortunately the sound drops way down again just after that guitar solo for a little while. It does come back before this is over.
Undercover Writing Demos, 1985
L9 (Instrumental Demo)

I like this quite a bit. It has an 80s sound to it, but rocks out pretty well. It's mainstream, but still has some meaty chops. Since it's a song-oriented cut with no vocals, it does drag on a bit.

Stand By Me #1 (Instrumental Demo)
This isn't as strong as the previous number.
Undercover (Writing Demo)
With a lot of time-counts along the run, this cut is weaker than the last two were. Still, it was never really intended to be released.
Double Man (Instrumental Rough Demo)
More metallic, this grind works pretty well, even in this format.
Texas Sentence Live, March 1984
Too Drunk to Live, Too Young to Die/Big Foot

Coming in with a real powerhouse crescendo, the sound on this recording seems a bit better, but rather distant, in comparison to the previous album. That said, this cuts out like crazy and we get someone doing a sound check on it as it continues.

Island in the Sun
This hard rocker gets a cool performance here. The recording quality is more in line with the previous disc.
Kree Nakoorie
This song in terms of both performance and recording quality is quite similar to that on the previous one. That said, this might manage to capture some of the nuances better than that recording did.
Guitar Solo
The sound quality on this guitar solo is definitely superior to that on the previous CD. I think I prefer that solo, though. That said, this gets into some pretty crazed and trippy territory later.
Since You Been Gone
This number gets a solid live airing here, but the sound quality seems to really distort and muddy it a bit.
Suffer Me
This power ballad works well here, but the sound quality doesn't do it justice.
Desert Song
This one had issues with the recording quality on the previous disc. Here we get it in all its powered up metal glory. This is a strong cut that works really well here.
Jet to Jet
The recording quality is a bit of an issue on this one. The performance, on the other hand, is on fire.
Evil Eye
They bring this powerhouse neo-classically tinged stomper to life in style.
All Night Long
This Rainbow stomper comes to life with class here.  They include a crowd participation section in the midst of this one.
Lost in Hollywood
This scorching hot rocker works quite well in this live performance.
Undercover Writing Demos, 1985
Dangerous Games (Instrumental Rough Demo, 1985)

Truth in advertising is on display here. this is an instrumental demo. The bones on this one have some real metal meat on them. This is a killer rocker, even in this format.

Danny & Jimmy (Instrumental Demo #1,1985)
This jam is much less metal and less effective.
Danny & Jimmy (Instrumental Demo #2,1985)
A mainstream rock jam, this is also not one of the strongest demos here.
Undercover (Background-Vocal Take, 1985)
This short piece is precisely what it is described as.
Live at Daddy's San Antonio, Texas, 8th March, 1984
Too Young to Die, Too Drunk to Live

I'd say that the recording quality on this is probably better than on either of the previous CDs, but that's largely because both of those had issues on this song. In comparison to the full sets, this isn't as good sound-wise as either of those sets. Malmsteen is purely on fire here.

Hiroshima Mon Amour
The sound quality on this one is about where it was on the previous tune, making this a fairly good, but not great, recording of a powerhouse performance.
Big Foot
I dig the keyboard laced sound of the introduction here. This seems better in terms of sound quality and turns decidedly dark and heavy with some killer guitar soloing. The number is a real powerhouse metal stomper.
Island in the Sun
More of an AOR tune, this rocker gets a solid live telling here. The sound is pretty decent, too. This has a real 80s sound to it.
Kree Nakoorie
This is so strong here. It's a screaming hot rocker with both hints of prog and plenty of metal on display. From the opening Mike Oldfield type arrangement (that comes back later) to the killer Malmsteen guitar soloing, this is on fire.
Guitar Solo
Malmsteen displays his amazing fret-board skills on this powerhouse guitar solo. The sound here seems better than that on either of the first two discs.
Suffer Me (Excerpt)
This seems to become part of Malmsteen's guitar solo in a lot of ways. It's a powerhouse number, nonetheless.
Desert Song
This Schenker tune gets a powerful live performance on this disc. The sound quality (although not without its issues) is quite good here. This song has a lot of audience sound at the end because it was obviously the closing number.
All Night Long
They put in an inspired performance of this Rainbow tune as the encore. There is an extensive crowd participation section here.
Undercover Writing Demos, 1985


The Witchwood (Instrumental Demo, 1985)
The parenthetical here gives you some idea of what you get on this. There is a proggy melodic element to this. The cut is quite pretty and developed. It still has some metallic meat, but it's closer to a ballad in approach.
Writing Ideas for Dangerous Games (Tape 01) (1985)
This has some vocals and acoustic guitar. It's really basically some notes as they talk things out as they go through it. There is over 11-minutes of this, and it's basically a look inside the studio during a writing session.
Writing Ideas for Dangerous Games (Tape 02) (1985)
Here we get more of the same as the last track, but at just over eight-minutes, it's shorter.
CD 4
Studio Instrumental Mixes July 19th and 20th, 1983
Kree Nakoorie
Again the keyboards that open this feel like "Tubular Bells." The cut fires out into metallic territory for there, really screaming forward with style. It turns neo-classical and works through some killer territory as it continues. This thing works well even in this instrumental format.
Starrcarr Lane
A meaty metal jam, this is a real powerhouse stomper. Malmsteen gets some killer soloing in the midst of this. It's another that manages to work even sans vocals.
Island in the Sun
This cut is more of a mainstream AOR rocker. For that reason, it doesn't work quite as well without the vocals. That said, it's still pretty darned good, even in that format.
Big Foot
Now this has some real metal fire and screaming hot textures. It has a good balance between more powered up and stripped down sections.
Hiroshima Mon Amour
Coming in as more of a melodic AOR rocker, Malmsteen works his magic on the introduction. It works to more of a meaty metal romp from there.
General Hospital
Here we get another screaming hot, hard rocking jam. This one has a lot of energy and some killer crunch. It reminds me a bit of the Scorpions in some ways.
Heavy and metallic, this is also a bit trippy.
Suffer Me
A picked balladic section brings this in and holds it, working through some intriguing changes. This reminds me of a cross between Kiss' "I Still Love You" and Rainbow. It gets to more soaring territory as it continues and Malmsteen tears up the fretboard.
Too Young to Die, Too Drunk to Live
Drums open this, and they launch out from there. The recording seems to drop out completely, but eventually comes back as the band is tearing through this stomper. Comparisons to Rainbow are not out of the question here, either. Malmsteen really kills it in terms of the guitar soloing on the number.
Jet to Jet
There are some false starts on this, and the recording quality doesn't seem as good as it was on the songs that preceded it. Still, this works pretty well in this format. There is a definite Deep Purple and Rainbow vibe to it. Malmsteen puts in some of his most classically based soloing on this thing.
Another Rehearsal, 1983
Jet to Jet #1
Here is a different take of the previous tune. It seems to be on fire.
Jet to Jet #2
Continuing the trend, we get another take on the same piece. It's not a big change, but really, why would it be? The closing is a real powerhouse.
Jet to Jet #3
Here we get the final version of this one on this disc. The sound quality on this feels a bit muddier than some of the rest to me.
Kree Nakoorie
The Mike Oldfield styled elements again open this and we are launched out into a killer metal romp. This is another rendition of a killer tune.
Starrcarr Lane
They start this but quickly stop. There is some studio banter that earns a parental advisory before they fire out into this again. The sound quality on this isn't' the best here, but the performance is solid.
Hiroshima Mon Amour
There is a false start at the beginning of this, but they make their way into the song after that. The recording quality seems a bit better, but the tune feels a little too stripped back like this.
Too Young to Die, Too Drunk to Live (Excerpt)
This is less than 30-seconds of the song.
Another Rehearsal Two, 1983
Jet to Jet

Feeling very much like something from Deep Purple, this rocker seems on fire here. The recording quality leaves a bit to be desired, and I wish this demo had vocals, but it's strong nonetheless.

Kree Nakoorie
Another version of this, the sound quality here leaves a bit to be desired. That doesn't take anything from the performance, though.
Starrcarr Lane
I like this performance quite a bit. The sound quality doesn't seem to be such an issue here. It's still a problem, but just tends not to be as glaring as it was on the first couple pieces on this CD. The drums really shine here.
Hiroshima Mon Amour
This rocker gets a solid performance. While the sound quality is not top-notch, it isn't all that bad, either.
Island in the Sun
More of a mainstream rocker, they have some false starts on this one before they get fully underway. The recording has some issues, most notably a drop out section.
Big Foot #1
A meaty, metallic stomper, this recording is rough, but the performance is on fire. There is some drop out in the midst of this recording, too.  They redo part of this later and have some studio banter in the midst. The banter gets a parental advisory.
Big Foot #2
Here is another version of the same tune. It seems downright mean. There are some starts and stops along the road.
Big Foot #3
The keyboards seem to be a bigger factor on this particular version of the cut. This seems more developed and involved in a lot of ways.
Kree Nakoorie
Here we get another version of this cut. It seems a bit distorted due to the recording quality, but it's a powerful performance with a lot of classical music built into it along with the metal stylings. There is some smoking hot guitar soloing on this, and I like the keyboard elements.
Unreleased Song
I really like this tune. It has a great energy and some killer rocking grooves. The metal guitar has some powerful passages. The keyboards lend some magic, too.
Starting with mellower, acoustic elements, this powers out to a screaming hot metallic number. The recording quality leaves something to be desired, particularly when one side drops out completely for a bit, but overall this is solid. Oddly enough we get "Suffer Me" after this, with vocals. That's listed as the next track, though. 
Suffer Me (With Graham Vocal)
Here we get the same tune that ended the last track. Again, this has vocals. It's more of the full song, but the recording leaves something to be desired. The performance seems to have some trouble staying in key, too.
S.O.S. - Audition: Lawrence Juber (Guitar) & Robert Williams (Drums)
There is a bit of a parental advisory on the banter at the start this. This performance is a lot less metal and more mainstream hard rock. There are vocals, but they are more shouted without microphone than actual singing.
S.O.S. (Jon Hyde Audition)
Here we have another version of the previous song. There is a lot of tape hiss on this one. The vocals are more pronounced, this really suffers from the recording quality issues.
Double Man (Instrumental 24 Track Studio Demo)

A meaty rocker with AOR stylings and a metal edge, this works pretty well. It has a good rocking groove and some solid hooks.

Dangerous Games Era Writing Sessions, Instrumentals & Demo Ideas 1985/86
You Can't Take the Rock Out of Roll (Danny Johnson Vocals)
I dig the picked guitar on this. The cut has strong vocals. The recording quality isn't perfect, but it's better. This song really rocks. It turns to more metallic zones as it works forward.
Rockin' Idea (Instrumental 24 Track Studio Demo)
This is definitely a rocking idea. It's has some solid hooks and really works well considering the format. There is almost a punky edge to this thing.
Ghostly Idea (Jimmy & Graham Musical Idea)
This is pretty and rather sedate. It has some interesting sounds and is based mostly on keyboards in the first section. It works out to some chords from there.
Atmospheric Idea (Danny & Jimmy Demo)
I dig the rocking groove on this cool jam.
Fast Idea (Danny & Jimmy Demo)
Screaming hot, this is fast paced and rocking. It's a cool cut.
Mid-Tempo Idea (Danny & Jimmy Demo)
This has a cool mainstream rock sound to it and works pretty well.
Another Mid-Tempo Idea (With Graham Vocal Idea Intro)
As you might guess, this has vocals. It's a stripped back, mellower musical concept in this first part. There is a bit of an acapella bit. Then some studio banter gives way to a harder rocking, full instrumental arrangement. It's again more of a mainstream rocker.
Another Rockin Idea (Danny & Jimmy Demo)
This rocker has more of a metal edge to it. It's also a solid number.
Floaty Idea (Danny & Jimmy Demo)
I dig this quite a bit. It has a great flow to it. It is on the slower, more proggy, end of the spectrum.
Please Call Me (Instrumental Demo)
This mid-tempo instrumental is another mainstream rocker that's quite cool.
Slow Idea (Danny & Jimmy Demo)
The keyboards bring some special elements to this, and the whole cut works well. It's pretty short.
Stand By Me #2 (Instrumental Demo)

Another mainstream rock concept, this works well. The keyboards are a big part of the sound here.

Blue Boar (Instrumental Demo Take #2)
The guitar riff on this is meaty and metallic. The tune has a mainstream rocking sound and works well.
Dangerous Games (Instrumental 24 Track Studio Demo)
I dig the mean metal textures on this stomper.
Ohayo Tokyo (Instrumental Demo)
Starting a bit tentatively, this works out to some cool rocking territory. It has both metal and mainstream rock elements at its heart.
Set Me Free (Instrumental Demo Take #5)
A mainstream rock jam, this is good. The recording quality is on the better side, too.
Undercover (Instrumental Demo #2)
This is a keyboard based tune that has a very 80s feel to it.
Undercover (Instrumental Demo #3)
Another version of the same song, this has more of a full song-vibe to it. There is some crunchy guitar in the mix here.
Rider (Instrumental Demo #2)
A rocking AOR metal jam is on display here. This rocker works well.
The Witchwood/Christmas Greeting
There are some cool melodic elements at play here, and this rocker has a mid-tempo groove that works well. There is a bit of "Jingle Bells" at the end of this followed by holiday announcements and studio banter. They bring it back out into the "The Witchwood" from there.
Jimmy Waldo Idea (Jimmy Waldo Demo)
This is a synthesizer based piece that has some intriguing textures and melodies.
Synth Idea (Jimmy & Graham Musical Idea)
An energized synthesizer groove is on display here. It goes on a bit long, but then again, it's a writing demo.
Unlisted Track
There is a final 26-second track here that isn't listed, but is set up as a separate track on the CD. It's a little spoken section that includes Bonnett asking, "am I fired, too?"


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