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Alcatrazz: Live Sentence (CD/DVD reissue)
HNE continue their Alcatrazz reissue series with a CD/DVD version of ex-Rainbow and MSG man Graham Bonnet's collaboration with, at the time, young guitar whizz Yngwie Malmsteen. The pair's studio debut album No Parole For Rock And Roll had ably mimicked Bonnet era Rainbow with its chart friendly but still fiery brand of hard rock, the singer bringing his powerful yet easy on the ear style to Malmsteen's obvious Blackmore worship in fine style. However with Bonnet stating in more recent times that he hadn't really seen the band as a long term thing, that Malmsteen had departed by the time this recording of their 1984 show at Nakano Sun Plaza in Tokyo hit the shelves later the same year, was no real surprise. It's even less of a shock when you hear (and see) the competition between the main protagonists on stage, the guitarist taking every opportunity to ride rough shod over the songs with his fret board pyrotechnics. That he's given not one, but two solo spots doesn't in any way seem to dampen the guitarist's enthusiasm to widdle and fiddle over basically everything in sight and sound. To be fair he had the moves down pat and the flair to match, but the lack of chemistry between him and Bonnet is reasonably clear to see.
Bonnet live has often been an enigma; a less than comfortable stage presence in the heavy rock setting sitting uncomfortably against a propensity to start a vocal line on the wrong note and then try a whole host of varying others with little success. That he nails things for the rest of the time makes the sudden tone deafness all the more confusing. However with Jimmy Waldo offering up excellent backing vocals and keyboards, as Gary Shea and Jimmy Uvena lock the bass and drums respectively in place, the occasional vocal meanderings aren't as grating as they might be.
Thankfully this reissue version restores the full concert in both audio and video from the cut down version initially presented on vinyl, the full sixteen song track-listing aired with extended solos and on the DVD, an odd 30 second 'chat' with Bonnet between the main set and encore… This means that not only do we get Alcatrazz highlights 'Too Young To Die, Too Drunk To Live', 'Hiroshima Mon Amor', 'Evil Eye' and 'Island In The Sun', but we also have room for the solo Bonnet cut 'Night Games', MSG favourite 'Desert Song' and Rainbow trio of 'Lost In Hollywood', 'Since You've Been Gone' and 'All Night Long'. However if the lumpen take on Eddie Cochrane's classic 'Somethin' Else' had remained on the cutting room floor, no one would have been too upset. While having three selections from a performance at The Rock Plaza (USA), which actually find the band in better form, added on the end of the DVD proves a real bonus. It's a shame there isn't more of that show available.
Steve Vai would follow Malmsteen quickly in and out the Alcatrazz door for the Disturbing The Peace album in 1985, but in truth the writing was already on the wall for a band that never quite got the recognition they deserved. Live Sentence, even with its flaws, is a reasonably good way to redress that balance.
DISC ONE: AUDIO CD
1. TOO YOUNG TO DIE, TOO DRUNK TO LIVE
2. HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR
3. NIGHT GAMES
4. BIG FOOT
5. ISLAND IN THE SUN
6. KREE NAKOORIE
7. COMING BACH
8. SINCE YOU BEEN GONE
9. SUFFER ME
10. DESERT SONG
11. EVIL EYE
12. GUITAR CRASH
13. ALL NIGHT LONG
14. LOST IN HOLLYWOOD
15. KOJO NO TSUKI
16. SOMETHING ELSE
DISC TWO: DVD-VIDEO
Same track list as CD plus...
BONUS DVD FEATURES: ROCK PALACE USA
17. TOO YOUNG TO DIE , TOO DRUNK TO LIVE
18. HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR
19. ISLAND IN THE SUN
Added: January 31st 2016
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Live Sentence at Cherry Red
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