Alcatrazz – Disturbing The Peace (1985)

Alcatrazz - Disturbing The Peace

Alcatrazz – Disturbing The Peace (1985, Capitol)

  1. God Blessed Video
  2. Mercy
  3. Will You Be Home Tonight
  4. Wire And Wood
  5. Desert Diamond
  6. Stripper
  7. Painted Lover
  8. Lighter Shade Of Green
  9. Sons And Lovers
  10. Skyfire
  11. Breaking The Heart Of The City

Total Time – 41:23

Band Lineup:
Steve Vai – Guitar
Gary Shea – Bass
Jimmy Waldo – Keyboards
Jan Uvena – Drums

Produced by: Eddie Kramer

Graham Bonnet official website
Steve Vai official website

The success of the debut gets Alcatrazz a deal with Capitol Records and a famous producer in Eddie Kramer. With big label support, the band hits the studio and delivers Disturbing The Peace but with a new guitarist…..Steve Vai. Yngwie Malmsteen left the band in 1984, after a successful tour of Japan, to concentrate on his solo career. Exit one guitar god, enter another.

Smack in the middle of the MTV age, the first single and video is God Blessed Video, a blistering speed rocker with clever lyrics about the video cliches of the time. God Blessed Video is probably the most accessible song for the masses to flock to, cleverly marketed for the medium it satirizes. Mercy is a mid-paced gem that has the crunch of the first album. Vai plays within the song rather than all over it, a recurring theme on this album and his career.

Will You Be Home Tonight is keyboard heavy Pop Metal. Bonnet trading his trademark yelp for a laid back singing delivery until the chorus comes in. The guitar is pushed way back as this is Jimmy Waldo’s major collaboration with the Bonnet/Vai writing tandem. Too many keyboards, not enough guitar. Would’ve made a decent single for the third album, Dangerous Games (1986), but seems out of place on this album.

The next five tracks are the meat and potatoes of the album:

Wire And Wood bringing the speedy Metal back with a nice riff and a great solo by Vai. Again, Vai doesn’t diddle too much and plays within the context of the song. I like Uvena’s drums on this one the most. Desert Diamond is a good ballad about the Egyptian Sphinx, Bonnet exploring more exotic topics with this and Mercy. This song has one of Vai’s better solos and Waldo’s keys are present but not overbearing. Stripper brings another fast guitar attack, taking full advantage of Vai’s trademark techniques and Bonnet’s high shriek. Painted Lover is a song that begs to be a single/video, just a fine Hard Rock tune, my favorite on the record. Sons And Lovers is another Hard Rock feast that has the proper recipe of meaty guitar, sing-along lyrics, and a great drum sound. This would have been my pick for a second single and video, I think it could have charted, another personal fave.

In between Painted Lover and Sons And Lovers is the requisite guitar hero instrumental, Lighter Shade Of Green. Vai does his imitation of bagpipes here and it’s completely unnecessary, it takes away from the groove of the mid-album classics. I always forget it’s a separate track and not some messed up intro to Sons And Lovers.

I’m going to have to amend the above paragraphs because I forgot about Skyfire. This song has to be considered as part of the meat and potatoes as well. It’s a smooth Hard Rock number that kicks in the punch at the chorus. Bonnet going for a restrained approach until the chorus, matching Vai’s riff, a perfect blend. I could do without some of Waldo’s keyboard wanking but that’s just me. Breaking The Heart Of The City is ballady junk, I can’t stand it. After a good Hard Rock song like Sons And Lovers or Skyfire, it is completely out of place. It reminds me of something Phil Collins would sing and has too much keyboard.

All in all, Disturbing The Peace is a solid album. If No Parole From Rock’n Roll is a 10, then this album is a 9. I’m deducting a point for the last track, unnecessary keyboard and guitar noodling. This album echoes the trends of the mid-80s so it’s a solid listen but a little dated. Just like Malmsteen on the debut, Steve Vai is at his best when he plays within the context of the song. When he starts that finger frenzy up and down the neck it gets annoying.

Alcatrazz released a live album with Malmsteen, Live Sentence (1984), before this release and a new studio offering, Dangerous Games (1986), after with another new guitarist in Danny Johnson. There is also The Best Of Alcatrazz that was released in 1998 and it’s a good overview of the band’s memorable, but short, career.

CD Scavenger Hunt (Ebay edition) – 7/19/06

The selection has been so bad for used CDs at the local shops lately that I’ve not gone in a couple of weeks. There also hasn’t been many “must have” new releases either. I’ve been trolling Ebay for my latest purchases…..

1. Beyond Fear – s/t (2006) – Picked this up for $10 from a seller that I frequent. Still haven’t listened to it. Features Tim “Ripper” Owens (ex-Judas Priest).

2. Victory – Voiceprint (1996) – Spent $20 on this one. I have no other Victory albums but I always wanted to hear it because the artwork was cool. Click here for the album cover and info.

3. Saraya – s/t (1989) – Another $20 for an out of print CD. This one can get expensive at auction so I was glad to get it for 20 bucks. I heard the single, Love Has Taken It’s Toll, on the radio on the way to the Extreme show a couple weeks back. Since then, I’ve been wanting this album. On a personal note, Saraya was in the running for baby names for each of my two daughters. That is until my wife remembered that the name was from an ’80s Hard Rock band.

4. Herman Ze German and Friends (1985, 2005 reissue) – Solo project from Herman Rarebell of the Scorpions. Apparently, there are 2 versions of this album…..taken from Scorps.com:

Herman released a solo album in 1985 on Capitol Records called “Herman Ze German and Friends”. Herman produced this album which included guest appearances by: Don Dokken, Steve Mariott, Jack Russell (Great White), Juan Croucier and Bobby Blotzer (Ratt), and others. It also included a cover version of “Wipe Out”.

Herman’s solo album (Herman Ze German-1985) was first released a couple of years earlier, in 1981 as ‘Nip in the Bud’ on import from Germany with just the trio of Herman, D.H. Cooper on guitar and George Phillips (Pedro Schemm on the 1985 version) on bass and vocals. The 1985 version was the same backing tracks re-mixed and with the new vocals added on by the guest musicians. WipeOut did not appear on the earlier version but there was an instrumental called Triangle which the Scorpions did play on their Blackout tour which was the intro to Herman’s drum solo.

The 2005 reissue is on Retrospect Records. It’s not listed on their website anymore but you can find it on Ebay through the seller VegasCDs (the guy who runs it). It’s a bare bones reissue, not much in the way of artwork and it looks like a CDR. There is news of an official silver pressed CD/DVD package that is authorized by Herman himself. I picked this up for $18 at auction from a different seller.

5. Hurricane – Slave To The Thrill (1990, banned cover/Japanese version) – Cost $45 with shipping from Japan but I finally have the banned artwork. No OBI though. This usually goes over $60.

Yes, a lot of money spent but some good additions. I’ll be reviewing a couple of these next week, definitely Beyond Fear.

Schedule change

I was going to post a review of Alcatrazz – Disturbing The Peace today but I’m pushing it until Thursday so I can give it some proper spins. The Impellitteri review is pushed to Friday.

Alcatrazz – No Parole From Rock’n Roll (1983)

Alcatrazz - No Parole From Rock'n'Roll

Alcatrazz – No Parole From Rock’n’Roll (1983, Rocshire)

  1. Island In The Sun
  2. General Hospital
  3. Jet To Jet
  4. Hiroshima Mon Amour
  5. Kree Nakoorie
  6. Incubus
  7. Too Young To Die, Too Drunk To Live
  8. Big Foot
  9. Starcarr Lane
  10. Suffer Me

Total Time: 41:34

Band Lineup:
Graham Bonnet – Vocals
Yngwie Malmsteen – Guitar
Gary Shea – Bass
Jan Uvena – Drums
Jimmy Waldo – Keyboards

Graham Bonnet official website
Yngwie Malmsteen official website

Alcatrazz is one of those forgotten bands from Metal’s past that had considerable success overseas but couldn’t catch a break in the good ol’ USA. After his dismissal from MSG, Graham Bonnet decided to form his own band. He enlisted Jimmy Waldo and Gary Shea (both of New England fame), Jan Uvena (former Alice Cooper drummer), and a young Swedish guitar virtuoso, Yngwie Malmsteen, fresh out of L.A. Metal band Steeler. With all the parts in place, Alcatrazz was born.

All the songs on the debut album are Bonnet/Malmsteen collaborations, with help from Jimmy Waldo on a few tracks. What I find interesting about this is that Malmsteen seems restrained (compared to future works) but more focused. Rather than playing complex throughout, he keep his guitar focused within the context of the song and then lets loose come solo time. Probably the most enjoyable Malmsteen performance I’ve heard (and I have all of them!), almost Schenker like. Bonnet continues his excellent vocal performance as heard on his previous albums with Blackmore and Schenker but he seems to let loose a bit more here as he is the man guiding the ship this time around. With Waldo’s keyboards adding to the tracks rather than drowning them, giving added punch much like Rainbow.

Island In The Sun starts the album in sing-along fashion. This was Alcatrazz’s first single and video (search YouTube) and it’s pure Pop Metal. We move to the metallic General Hospital where Bonnet’s tale of being trapped in the hospital is a departure from the usual songcraft of the times and Malmsteen adds the chugging riffs. Jet To Jet is the fast rocker, Malmsteen’s solo is blistering.

No doubt that Alcatrazz’s popularity was in Japan after hearing the two Japanese inspired songs: Hiroshima Mon Amour and Kree Nakoorie. My two highlights of this album: both mid-paced, both including Bonnet’s most emotional performances of the record. Again Malmsteen stays within the song and lets loose during the solos.

Incubus is Malmsteen’s instrumental. Too Young To Die, To Drunk To Live chugs along, another Metal attack telling the tale of the consequences of imbibing. Big Foot slows down to tell the tale of the Abominable Snowman, one of the best Yngwie solos. Bonnet mellows out on the vocals. Starcarr Lane is an OK rocker, nothing you haven’t heard already on this album. It’s good but doesn’t grab me like the rest did except for the solo. Suffer Me is the ballad and the weakest song on the album.

No Parole From Rock’n’Roll is another of my all-time favorites, probably in my Top 10, definitely in the Top 20. Fave tracks here are the first five…..I really enjoy the the sing along of Island In The Sun. No Parole is probably the one of the greatest lost albums of the early ’80s, the last of the triumverate that Bonnet helped create from 1979-1983 and building his unknown legacy.

Some news on KISS related releases

  • Reports around the Net are that Paul Stanley’s solo album, Live To Win, will be released on October 3rd via Hip-o/Universal. Like everything in the KISS world, the October 3rd date is tentative and subject to change.

(It’s been over a year waiting for this album, and YEARS waiting for some new KISS material. C’mon Paul, get this record out!)

  • Following Paul’s solo album, Universal is also releasing a new KISS box set that includes the first three Alive albums. Look for it on October 24th.

(Universal owns the KISS back catalog up to the KISS Box Set, so Alive IV is not part of this Alive box set. Sanctuary Records retains the rights to Alive IV. Also, this idea has been done before: Alive, Alive II, and Alive III were part of a limited edition box set called The Alive Trilogy (1994). They were basically the same CD versions put in a cardboard slipcase, no special extras. Universal already released a box set that included the first 3 studio albums and the just released the Double Platinum Box Set in Japan (1st 10 albums cardboard reproductions). How many times can the label release the same stuff? Gene and Paul have no say but they do get paid!

Got to KISS Kollector and KISSFAQ for more details and updates…..

The Michael Schenker Group – Assault Attack (1982)

MSG - Assault Attack

The Michael Schenker Group – Assault Attack (1982, Chrysalis)

  1. Assault Attack
  2. Rock You To The Ground
  3. Dancer
  4. Samurai
  5. Desert Song
  6. Broken Promises
  7. Searching For A Reason
  8. Ulcer

Total Time – 39:55

Band Lineup:
Graham Bonnet – Vocals
Michael Schenker – Guitar
Chris Glen – Bass
Ted McKenna – Drums

Michael Schenker official website
Unofficial Michael Schenker website
Graham Bonnet official website

After he was let go from Rainbow following the Down To Earth tour, Graham Bonnet released a solo album, Line Up (1981) and then joined the Michael Schenker Group to record what many consider the “crown jewel” of MSG albums…..Assault Attack.

Once again paired with a genius guitarist in Michael Schenker, Bonnet helps create a classic album that the rest of the MSG catalogue will be compared to. This time around, Graham was able to contribute to the songwriting, especially the lyrics. This makes Assault Attack better than Down To Earth as it was a full band effort rather than Blackmore handing the tunes to Bonnet and saying, “Just sing.”

Assault Attack and Rock You To The Ground kick off the album as a true metallic combo, blending Bonnet’s soaring vocals to Schenker’s Euro-Metal heroics. The first track smacks you in the mouth with speed and power. As you get up, Rock You To The Ground knocks you down again with it’s powerful mid-pace groove.

What makes the album for me is songs 3 through 5, the best three tracks on the album. Dancer was Metal made for FM Radio, full of melody and a sing-a-long chorus. Schenker rips and riffs all over this song and adds one blistering solo. Samurai starts with a Schenker solo intro and just drops into a galloping pace. Bonnet and Schenker blazing a trail and then kicking it up a level come chorus time. Bonnet’s most powerful vocal on the record, haunting and anguished, you can feel the Samurai’s tale. Schenker provides the chunky riffs and the solo finds it’s way again at the end. The last of this trilogy, Desert Song, is the epic. 6 minutes woven between Schenker’s mastery and Bonnet’s tale of woe. It’s dark and brooding, sounds of metallic anguish.

Settling back into the Hard Rock groove for Broken Promises and Searching For A Reason, we hear more of the Schenker/Bonnet magic. I could see either song as an FM single. Ulcer is Michael’s solo spotlight that I usually ignore.

One album and done. Graham is ousted after an incident on stage the gig prior to the Reading Festival…..replaced by the man he replaced, Gary Barden. What a shame! The album is so good that the songs would easily translate live, I’d bet that they’d be even better! This was my introduction to Graham Bonnet and MSG so this is my favorite album by both men. I don’t think either has eclipsed this album with their future work and they both have been a part of some truly great albums afterwards. One of my “desert island” albums, easily enters my Top 10.

More on Graham Bonnet Week

I kicked off the week with the Down To Earth review and I’m going to elaborate on Bonnet’s penchant for teaming up with legendary guitarists (Blackmore, Schenker, Malmsteen…..). The review schedule will be:

Rainbow – Down To Earth (1979)

Rainbow - Down To Earth

Rainbow – Down To Earth (1979, Polydor)

  1. All Night Long
  2. Eyes Of The World
  3. No Time To Lose
  4. Makin’ Love
  5. Since You Been Gone
  6. Love’s No Friend
  7. Danger Zone
  8. Lost In Hollywood

Total Time – 36:39

Band Lineup:
Graham Bonnet – Vocals
Ritchie Blackmore – Guitar
Roger Glover – Bass
Don Airey – Keyboards
Cozy Powell – Drums

Ritchie Blackmore official website
Graham Bonnet official website

Let’s kick off Graham Bonnet Week with my favorite Rainbow album, and Graham Bonnet’s only Rainbow album, Down To Earth.

After gaining critical acclaim and a strong fanbase, Ritchie Blackmore set his sights on the U.S. charts. Ronnie James Dio (vocals) left the band due to a difference of opinion on the new commercial route Blackmore was steering the Rainbow ship. As Dio went on to front Black Sabbath, Blackmore enlisted former Marbles singer, and solo artist, Graham Bonnet, to be the voice of a more “radio friendly” Rainbow. This would be Bonnet’s first big Rock gig of many to come.

Down To Earth is the transitional Rainbow album, bridging the medieval Dio era to the chart successes of the Joe Lynn Turner era. By the time Bonnet joined the band, the material was already written by Blackmore and bassist Roger Glover, all he had to do was lay down the vocals. What you get is a mix of two styles: the trademark Progressive/Hard Rock music with lush guitar and grand keyboards and more pop oriented lyrics. The lyrics of love won and love lost were major departures from Dio’s tales of castles, dragons, and rainbows. This change gave the band it’s first taste of the U.S. charts with singles All Night Long and the Russ Ballard penned Since You Been Gone. Throughout the album, Graham delivers a memorable vocal performance, a blend of pure power and pop sensibility.

I’m a fan of all Rainbow eras but this album is my favorite because of Graham Bonnet’s vocals and the mixing of styles. Graham’s vocals just jump from the speakers, he belts out his range of vocal power with seemingly little effort. Obviously, the big hit, Since You Been Gone, is catchy as hell. Same with All Night Long. Looking beyond the singles, Eyes Of The World is the mysterious blend of Dio era music with pop lyrics, Lost In Hollywood is straight up Hard Rock, and Love’s No Friend is the moody power ballad. I like the album as a whole, every song a favorite, can’t find a weak link. The “lost” Rainbow album is one of the best Rainbow albums.

This week

I’m taking a page from Metal Mark at the Heavy Metal Time Machine and I’m going to do a theme week.

I’ve been listening to a lot of Graham Bonnet (ex-Rainbow, ex-MSG, Alcatrazz) lately, he’s one of my favorite singers. He’s also unknown to many Hard Rock/Metal fans out there. Not only has he worked with some of the best guitarists out there (Blackmore, Schenker, Malmsteen, Vai) he also has done some excellent solo material.

So for Graham Bonnet Week, I’m going to drum up an Album Review each day, highlighting Graham’s work with some of these legendary axe masters. I might also come up with a couple of other things relating to Graham.

Metal Church – A Light In The Dark (2006)

Metal Church - A Light In The Dark

Metal Church – A Light In The Dark (2006, SPV/Steamhammer)

  1. A Light In The Dark
  2. Beyond All Reason
  3. Mirror Of Lies
  4. Disappear
  5. The Believer
  6. Temples Of The Sea
  7. Pill For The Kill
  8. Son Of The Sun
  9. More Than Your Master
  10. Blinded By Life
  11. Watch The Children Pray 2006 (for David Wayne)

Band Lineup:
Ronny Munroe – Vocals
Kurdt Vanderhoof – Guitar & Keyboards
Jay Reynolds – Guitar
Steve Unger – Bass
Jeff Plate – Drums

Metal Church official website

Like many Metalheads, I started listening to Metal Church with the release of their classic self-titled debut way back in 1984. I also got into the follow-up record, The Dark (1986)…..another classic! Metal Church had made a serious name for themselves in a short period of time. Over the years, I haven’t really given the band much thought. I reach for the first two albums but subsequent releases like Hanging In The Balance or Masterpeace just left me looking for something from Metal’s past.

In 2004, with new vocalist Ronny Munroe at the helm, Kurdt and company released The Weight Of The World. I heard some bits and pieces but I never got around to buying it, the lineup changes and change of direction had turned me off.

Enter 2006. Another Metal Church record…..A Light In The Dark. I picked it up the day of release and let it sit in the pile. I pulled it out on vacation last week and gave it some spins. At first listen, I didn’t like it. The music was good but Munroe’s vocals bothered me it sounded like he was trying too hard, straining and forcing. After at least a dozen more listens, I’ve decided that Ronny Munroe has that grit, that roughness that makes the songs seem harder. Reminds me of original Metal Church vocalist David Wayne (R.I.P.) crossed with Tim Owens (ex-Judas Priest, current Iced Earth/Beyond Fear).

This album is a grower. There is some killer guitar here and the songwriting is OK. All in all…..a good album, not a classic. Fave tracks here: A Light In The Dark, Beyond All Reason, and Watch The Children Pray 2006. The good news is that the band has new life and has an eye for the future. Metal Church has also given me a reason to pick up The Weight Of The World and revisit everything after The Dark.

Saxon – The Eagle Has Landed III (2006)

Saxon - The Eagle Has Landed III

Saxon – The Eagle Has Landed III (2006, SPV/Steamhammer)

Disc I
01. This Town Rocks (Stockholm 2005)
02. Backs To The Wall (Nuremberg 2005)
03. Redline (Hamburg 2005)
04. Stand Up And Be Counted (Berlin 2005)
05. Never Surrender (Berlin 2005)
06. Frozen Rainbow (Fulda 2005)
07. Suzie Hold On (Nuremberg 2005)
08. Play It Loud (Nuremberg 2005)
09. Warrior (Nuremberg 2005)
10. See The Lights Shining (Hamburg 2005)
11. To Hell And Back Again (Hamburg 2005)
12. Stallions Of The Highway (Fulda 2005)
13. Wheels Of Steel (Nuremberg 2005)
14. And The Bands Played On (Wacken 2004)
15. Crusader (Wacken 2004)

Disc II
01. The Return (Paris 2004)
02. Lionheart (Paris 2004)
03. Man & Machine (London 2004)
04. Beyond The Grave (London 2004)
05. Searching For Atlantis (London 2004)
06. To Live By The Sword Pt. I (London 2004)
07. Unleash The Beast (London 2004)
08. To Live By The Sword Pt. II (London 2004)
09. Flying On The Edge (Paris 2004)
10. Jack Tars (Kiel 2004)
11. English Man ‘O’ War (Kiel 2004)
12. Court Of The Crimson King (Kiel 2004)
13. Broken Heroes (Kiel 2004)
14. Dragon’s Lair (Kiel 2004)
15. Rock Is Our Live (Wacken 2004)
16. Travellers Time (Wacken 2004)
17. Solid Ball Of Rock (Wacken 2004)

Total Time = 2 hrs 23 mins

Biff Byford – Vocals
Nigel Glocker – Drums
Nibbs Carter – Bass
Dave Scaratt – Guitars
Paul Quinn – Guitars
Jorg Michael – Drums

Saxon official website

Saxon has had a long Heavy Metal career, 28 years and counting. To document their 2004/2005 World Tour promoting the Lionheart album, Saxon has released The Eagle Has Landed III live double CD album.

32 tracks at almost two and a half hours long…..that’s a lot of music for your hard earned cash! What makes this unique is all of the rarely played classics like Redline, Suzie Hold On, Warrior, and To Hell And Back Again on the first CD…..then add all of the newer tracks, including 9 songs from 2004’s Lionheart album, on disc two. The band regularly mixes up their setlist for each city, Eagle 3 doesn’t include many of the concert staples Saxon usually plays except for classics like Crusader, Wheels Of Steel, and a few others…..a diehard’s dream. A great idea that keeps the listening experience fresh (KISS, Poison, Crue, and Maiden take notice!) and gives the purchase some extra value.

The performances are top notch, Saxon is a band that gets better and better with age. Biff is seasoned vet with more power in his voice and the dual guitar attack of Quinn and Scaratt is extremely enjoyable. Well worth the 20 clams for a good, career-spanning live album.

The “I just went back to work after vacation” playlist – 7/10/06

Nothing is worse than returning to work after a week’s vacation, especially when you work 3rd shift and slept like a normal person for 7 days!

So how do you get back into the groove at work on your first day back? Play some good tunes!

1. Alice Cooper – The Life and Crimes of Alice Cooper (4 CD box set) – Put all 4 discs into the Dell and put the headphones on. My favorite box set.

2. Krokus – Alive and Screamin’ – My pick for the most under-rated band, been a fan since Metal Rendezvous in 1981. This live album has all the “hits”.

3. MSG – Assault Attack – What do you get when you add Michael Schenker and Graham Bonnet? Perfection. Favorite MSG album by far because of tracks like Dancer, Samurai, and Broken Promises.

And then the battery went out. Usually I get 12 to 15 hours depending on how I use the Dell DJ (EQ, Hold button, continuos play or picking albums) but I used it over the weekend and forgot to charge it up.

On to the stereo…..been playing these today…..

  1. Venom – Black Metal
  2. Victory – Voiceprint
  3. Motorhead – Orgasmatron
  4. Saxon – The Eagle Has Landed III