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Alcatrazz: No Parole From Rock 'N' Roll (reissue)
Having already teamed up with guitar legends Richie Blackmore in Rainbow and Michael Schenker in the German's eponymous outfit MSG, singer Graham Bonnet began dreaming up an outfit of his own in the mould of his previous bands – well, Rainbow anyway. Recruiting the one time New England (the band) pair of Jimmy Waldo (keyboards) and Gary Shea (bass), Bonnet then quickly enlisted ex-Iron Butterfly drummer Jan Uvena (in the candid liner notes Bonnet scotches the rumour (and internet "fact") that one time Iron Maiden sticksman Clive Burr was a member of the band, although he did audition). Leaving possibly the most important seat left to fill, that of a guitarist fit to follow Blackmore and Schenker. Step up one ex-Steeler fret-man Yngwie Malmsteen, who was up to this point largely unknown, to take on the mantle. With the guitarist a devotee of "the man in black", he was a natural fit, ably and seemingly delightedly aping the (of the time) Blackmore/Rainbow sound without the merest hint of irony, or apology.
And why should he? For the results may well be the best Rainbow album the band never recorded, in the shape of the 1983 Alcatrazz debut effort No Parole From Rock 'N' Roll. Again in the liner notes Bonnet is honest enough to say that his sole goal for this band was to "sound like Rainbow" and if proof were needed that they did, then simply sample "Jet To Jet", where you almost naturally sing the lyrics to "Spotlight Kid" from the Joe Lynn Turner Rainbow fronted album, Difficult To Cure! Elsewhere, the excellent "Hiroshima Mon Amour" provides a staccato burst of guitars and keys that would easily have felt at home on Bonnet's effort with Blackmore, Down To Earth, while "Island In The Sun", while more lightweight, fits the same bill.
Bonnet is his usual irrepressible self, although already here (as has often been the case over the years), you could argue that his insistence in adding a gravely edge to his delivery and over reaching for the high notes, actually diminishes the impact of his contribution. Although the very fact he states that he simply laid down his vocals and then let the rest of his band and producer Dennis Mackay (Judas Priest, Gary Moore, Tygers Of Pan Tang) worry about the rest (and his manager dealt with the ho-hum album cover), says much for his overall input in the end results. However with Waldo adding broad keyboard brush strokes and Malmsteen doing his best Ritchie (and showing his virtuoso side, without becoming overbearing, although he is let loose on the instrumental "Incubus"), he needn't have worried on that score. "General Hospital", "Too Young To Die, Too Drunk To Live" and "Starcarr Lane" all delivering the goods, if in a very obvious way.
As with all of the HNE/Cherry Red reissues, the sound here is very strong and the liner notes put together by Malcolm Dome are well worth a read. However in truth, while nice for completists, the ten bonus instrumental demo cuts which relive the album in full and in order, are pretty much a listen once experience.
Although Bonnet still, on occasion, performs under the name Alcatrazz, their initial time together would prove fleeting. Malmsteen departing after a Japanese tour, his place taken by none other than a certain Steve Vai (Bonnet can choose his guitarists can't he?) who was also quickly replaced, as the band released two more albums. However No Parole From Rock 'N' Roll remains their defining statement and as such is an album fans of Bonnet and post Dio era Rainbow really need in their collections.
1. ISLAND IN THE SUN
2. GENERAL HOSPITAL
3. JET TO JET
4. HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR
5. KREE NAKOORIE
7. TOO YOUNG TO DIE, TOO DRUNK TO LIVE
8. BIG FOOT
9. STARCARR LANE
10. SUFFER ME
BONUS TRACKS: INSTRUMENTAL DEMOS
11. ISLAND IN THE SUN
12. GENERAL HOSPITAL
13. JET TO JET
14. HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR
15. KREE NAKOORIE
17. TOO YOUNG TO DIE, TOO DRUNK TO LIVE
18. BIG FOOT
19. STARCARR LANE
20. SUFFER ME
Added: October 28th 2015
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: No Parole From Rock 'N' Roll at Cherry Red
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