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Alcatrazz

Breaking the Heart of the City: The Very Best of Alcatrazz

Review by Gary Hill

A new three CD box set, this would be a good introduction to Alcatrazz for those not bitten by the bug to this point. That said, I tend to think the people who will be all over this are the hardcore fans. While they'll have a lot of this music, there is more than one of full CD that's not been released before. The bulk of that is the final disc which consists of instrumental rehearsals from 1983. All in all, this is quite a cool set. I should mention that I've previously reviewed a lot of these tracks. For those the original track review is either used here as is or modified for use here for the sake of consistency.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
CD One
            
From No Parole for Rock 'N' Roll (1983)
           
Island in the Sun

Progressive rock, hair metal and more merge on this opening cut. The vocals are pretty raw in their rock sound. In a lot of ways this really does feel like a cross between Rainbow and Yngwie Malmsteen’s solo stuff.

Jet to Jet
This fast paced rocker makes me think of Deep Purple in a lot of ways. I suppose Rainbow is a valid reference, too. This is less metal and more proggy, too.
Hirosima Mon Amour
One of my favorite cuts here, this is a smoking hot hard rocker. I love the vocals on the cut. Then again, I love just about everything about this one. It’s again a bit like Deep Purple. I love the balance between the rocking and mellower stuff.
Kree Nakoorie
After a cool proggy introduction, some keyboard sounds that make me think of the music to a horror movie join. The cut works out from there in some classically tinged metal. This is a powerhouse stomper as works out. It’s another of my favorites. The instrumental section mid-track here is very much progressive rock.
Too Young to Die, Too Drunk to Live
More of a pure metal song, this is solid. The instrumental section brings some real neoclassically tinged progressive rock. This is a good change and a strong piece by itself.
Starcarr Lane
Here is another with more of a straight ahead hard rocking sound. I like this one a lot.
Suffer Me
This is more of a slow, blues styled cut. It’s metal and killer rock all at once. It’s one of the strongest cuts here.
From Live Sentence (1948)
          
Night Games

Another mainstream rocker styled cut, this thing works really well. It’s a lot of fun. It’s not the most metallic or technical thing here, but Malmsteen gets to show off a bit.

Since You Been Gone

A song that Bonnett did with Rainbow, this is a classy jam. It’s the most mainstream thing on show here, though.

Desert Song
Melodic mainstream metal, this is another screamer.
Evil Eye
Classically inspired jamming, this is a tasty number. It’s a screaming hot technical metal instrumental.
All Night Long
Another Rainbow song, this is a mainstream rocker. It’s a lot of fun. There is a singalong included on this. I’m not a big fan of those things on live albums, but this one is pretty good.
Lost in Hollywood
Here’s another mainstream rocker. There aren’t any big changes, but it works well.
No Parole Demos (1983)

           

General Hospital (Instrumental Demo)

Here is an instrumental take on one of the songs from No Parole From Rock 'N' Roll that didn't make it here. Here is what I said about that song, keeping in mind that this is just an instrumental take on it. "This is more pure metal. It’s also a real screaming hot number. I like this one much better than the opener. Everything works better here. There is a bit of Queen element on the bridge."

Incubus (Instrumental Demo)

Again, here they include a demo (like the actual song, this is an instrumental) of another song that is on the full version of No Parole.... This is what I said about the regular version of this tune. "Less than a minute and a half in length, this instrumental is very much metallic progressive rock. It is quite neo-classical in texture, too."

Big Foot (Instrumental Demo)

You know what to expect here. This is what I said of the non-instrumental demo version of the tune. "This kind of technical metal is very much an influence on modern epic power metal....Of course, the instrumental work really stands tall, too."

S.O.S. (Yngwie Malmsteen Audition)

As the parenthetical suggests, this is a Malmsteen audition. It has an unfinished sound in terms of the production. I mean, you'll have no problem believing that this is demo. It sounds more like an in-studio work through. They put in a cool performance on an AOR rocker. The sound quality is the biggest issue here. It's listenable from an archival point of view, but certainly not good.

CD Two
          
From Disturbing the Peace (1985)
         
God Blessed Video

This is such a cool piece of music. It's very much set in a 1980s metal sound, but it's also got an almost prog rock vibe to it. I love the sound of Steve Vai's guitar here.

Mercy
Here is another seriously classy heavy metal tune. I love the tone of this. There is a soaring element to the vocal arrangement that's great, too. this is less 80s in sound in a lot of ways. That's because it's more timeless than that.
Will You Be Home Tonight
This isn't a metal song at all. Instead it's more of an 80s rocker. There is a bit of a blues rock edge to the cut. It has some proggy things in it, too. Bonnet really shines on the harder rocking stuff later. I'm not crazy about the first half the cut, but the later sections really work well.
Wire and Wood
Now we're back into heavy metal territory. This is screaming hot. It's rather on the raw side. There are no pretenses here. This is just scorching hot, take no prisoners rock and roll. The guitar solo, though, really brings it into a completely higher level. The melodic break down section is a nice change, too.
Desert Diamond
This is more of an epic piece. it comes in with a mellower, dramatic metal ballad approach. It grows out as the song continues, really pounding forward. This is a powerhouse tune. It's another with a good helping of progressive rock built into it. The guitar solo section on this one is purely amazing, too.
Painted Lover

There is almost a hint of funk in the mix here. This has some cool proggy edges, too. Yet it's also set pretty well in an 80s metal sound.

Skyfire

Epic metal, progressive rock and more merge here. This is very much along the lines of power metal, too. It's another killer tune.

From Dangerous Games (1986)
             
It's My Life
This cover of the Animals takes on a cool raunch and roll metal sound. It's quite hot. It's a big change from the style of the original version. It works quite well in this format.
Undercover (12" Remix)
This is a cool AOR rocker. I suppose this is the vein one would expect from the more AOR side of Rainbow, it reminds me a lot of Blue Oyster Cult here. I really dig the instrumental break.
Ohayo Tokyo
This is in the same line as the last one in some ways. There are elements here, though, of more modern power metal. Some of the keyboard sounds and  the general mix feels a bit dated, but this song still works pretty well. The guitar soloing on this is technical and yet very passionate.
Dangerous Games
A rather anthemic cut, this is set in some great epic metal meets classic rock territory. It's a catchy tune that works really well.
Blue Boar
Melodic hard rock more in line with Rainbow, this is a classy tune. It's also a nice bit of variety. I dig the tasteful guitar solo on this.
The Witchwood
Here's another that lands in the power ballad vein. It's a cool tune, but would perhaps have done better separated from the previous number. I really like the vocal arrangement on this tune.
Double Man
A killer metal stomper, this is catchy and meaty at the same time. It rocks out quite well. It's one of my favorite tunes here.
Night of the Shooting Star
This is a multi-layer acapella piece. It's a nice change, but not my kind of thing so much. That said, this is short.
Previously Unreleased Dangerous Games Demos (1985)

         

Set Me Free (Live Rehearsal Vocal Take)

Given the fact that this is a demo, one would expect that it wouldn't have the best sound quality. That's pretty accurate. The vocal performance really does shine here. The instrumental arrangement is a bit lackluster in this recording, though.

No Imagination (Live Rehearsal Vocal Take)
Much more of a meaty hard rocker, you can still tell that this is a demo, but it sounds pretty good. It really rocks.
Jimmy Waldo Instrumental
This keyboard workout is quite cool. It definitely has an 80s vibe to it in terms of the voicings.
Blue Boar (Instrumental Rehearsal Demo Take 4)
This feels less like a demo than some of the others do. It rocks out quite a bit, but also has a dropped back keyboard driven part.
Double Man (Instrumental Rehearsal Demo Take 2)
Starting with a weird bit of an intro, this powers out to a jam that's crunchy and yet quite proggy. This is a classy tune.
Rider (Instrumental Rehearsal Demo Take 3)
More of a melodic rocker, this has some intriguing musical passages built into it.
CD Three
               
Incubus (Take 1)

A case of building the cut in a certain way as a scratch pad, this is interesting.

Incubus (Take 2)
This is more of a complete run-through of the cut.
Kree Nakoorie (Take 1)
This has much more of a complete and polished vibe than either of the two previous cuts on this final CD.
Kree Nakoorie (Take 2)
Feeling even more polished and complete, this rocks. Like the other tracks on this final CD, there are no vocals.
I'm Not Down

This rocker works well here. It's a mainstream number.

Big Foot (Take 1)

A meaty rocker, this feels solid here. The bottom end is thick and rich. The guitar soloing is great

Big Foot (Take 2)

Another take on the same cut, if anything I think the guitar might be more incendiary here.

Jet to Jet

Although there are no vocals, beyond that this feels like a pretty complete version of the song.

KRee Nakoorie (Take 3)
Dramatic and powerful, this one really does feel complete, with the exception of no vocals.
Star Carr Lane

Another of the more complete sounding run-throughs, this rocks.

Too Young to Die, Too Drunk to Live
This instrumental run-through is a powerhouse rocker.
General Hospital
The closer is another solid instrumental rehearsal.
 
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