Monday, September 10, 2018

ALCATRAZZ - Live in Japan 1984

Rating: Live
Label: earMusic 2018
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

What's not to like about this? Vocalist Graham Bonnet (Rainbow and The Michael Schenker Group) and young guitar genius Yngwie J. Malmsteen going at each other with two massive egos and the infamous chicken race. Add to this Alice Cooper, New England, Warrior, members Gary Shea (bass), Jimmy Waldo (keyboards) and drummer Jan Uvena, and you're in for a treat 'ala 1984. Big brother is watching? It's the honest, raw, uncut, definitive version of the concerts performed by Alcatrazz in January 28-29, at Nakano Sun Plaza, Tokyo. Excerpt of the show has previously been released as "Live Sentence". However. This time it's full frontal nudity (yuk!) aka the naked truth as the production is pretty darn real and without layers of overdubs (from the original 24 channel audio multitrack I may add).

18 tracks of pure joy where such numbers as "Too Young To Die, Too Drunk To Live", "Hiroshima Mon Amour", "Island In The Sun", "Big Foot", "Jet To Jet" were performed with a hunger and confidence that can only be acquired after spending years in the business (Bonnet), or simply having the big ego, sheer belief, and larger than life attitude (Malmsteen). Bonnet sounding a bit forced on Hiroshima, but it's the real deal, not the polished crap, and the kind of live recordings we prefer really. Yngwie, beating or rather breaking his poor masters' fingers on the Rainbow numbers, "Since You Been Gone" (originally the Russ Ballard tune), "All Night Long" and "Lost In Hollywood". Seriously. Almost any guitarist (signed to a metal label) could mimic Blackmore. Malmsteen's guitar work? You need something a bit out of ordinary. Bonnet, the real crowd pleaser, and there's storming versions of "Night Games" (his biggest solo hit) and MSG's "Desert Song" to be found on the fully restored and remastered recording.

To quote the great viking, six-string bender, and overall donut fan, "How can less be more? Surely more is more". The young guitar hero Yngwie J. Malmsteen could do no wrong in the eighties. The mad creator of the genre known as Neo-Classical Metal and Hard Rock rejected tons of riffs and arrangements other guitarists could merely dream about. Easily the best or at least the most prolific cat of the era. Especially since Ed Van Halen decided to dabble with keyboards (jump) and snorting cocaine and any other drug he could fit up his nose or arse for that matter. The mad fretwork and tapping shines throughout the record and we get treated to stunning versions of "Evil Eye" (still to this day one of the best instrumental guitar metal pieces) and "Coming Bach". Yngwie, clearly too big for the band. The first song after the curtain call, guitar solo and the traditional Japanese instrumental tune of "Kojo no Tsuki". 'Unleash The Fury' would continue to release gob-smacking, jaw-dropping releases throughout the 80s. Final verdict: The solid ground. Captivated. On the rock (pun intended) - it's Alcatrazz!!! Highly Recommended.

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