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Alcatrazz: Disturbing The Peace (expanded CD/DVD reissue)
Continuing their comprehensive look back over the varied career of singer Graham Bonnet, HNE/Cherry Red bring us the last two albums from the Skegness born frontman's post Rainbow and Michael Schenker Group outfit, Alcatrazz. The band, made of Bonnet, ex-New England men Gary Shea and Jimmy Waldo, Jan Uvena and a young guitar impresario named Yngwie Malmsteen, had debuted in 1983 with No Parole From Rock N Roll and followed up with the Live Sentence in-concert release. However with Malmsteen more and more interested in dominating the live show things became unworkable, his eventual ousting from the band also costing them their then manager. On the brink of collapse, a certain Steve Vai stepped in to save the day, Bonnet snaring himself his second guitar virtuoso in as many albums (fourth if you count Ritchie Blackmore in Rainbow and Schenker in MSG!). With a pedigree ranging from an instrumental solo album to time spent with Frank Zappa, Vai wasn't just capable of matching Malmsteen, he could actually run rings round him while also taking a more music based approach.
The resulting album was Disturbing The Peace, a collection that, if anything, stands the test of time a little better than its feted predecessor. Vai's melodic, virtuosic style genuinely different to anything we'd heard before, while still firmly rooted in the commercial rock that Bonnet wanted to ape with this band. Looking back now, it was a sound and approach he'd take to much greater success alongside David Lee Roth on the singer's first two solo records on leaving Van Halen, which Vai began work on soon as he parted from Alcatrazz after this album. Highlights come thick and fast, "God Blessed Video" a keyboard driven introduction that still leaves more than enough room to showcase Vai from the off, his bright harmonics and staccato riff immediately letting you know that something special was going on. Bonnet is on top form, his powerful lungs a match for the high musical standards being met, while Uvena on drums is a massively underrated powerhouse, driving the whole shebang along with real intent. "Will You Be Home Tonight" adds a gently funky side to the mix, the ode to Bonnet's hero, James Dean, a heartfelt, slightly balladic, dedication. "Wire And Wood", given its name, is unsurprisingly another opportunity for Vai to throw all his tricks out, splashes, dashes and flashes of dexterity still capable of dropping the jaw, as Bonnet gives his throaty best and Waldo adds his unmistakable keyboard touches to the energetic mix. From there "Stripper", "Painted Lover" and "Sons And Lovers" confirm the fine balance of musicianship and accessible commercial rock this line-up of the band seemed able create do so easily. Making it more of a shame that not everything comes quite up to that standard, "Skyfire" teetering into twee and "Breaking The Heart Of The City" containing little of the brooding intent hoped for. However with the good outweighing the bad, it's hard not to think that had Vai turned down Roth's offer to Eat 'Em And Smile, this line-up of Alcatrazz wouldn't have gone on to be something really special. As it is, Disturbing The Peace contains some of the band's best material without quite wresting away the title of best album from the Malmsteen fuelled No Parole… Bonnet would plough on, bringing in guitarist number three for Dangerous Games – more of which in the review of the reissue of that album which also sees the light of day at the same time as this CD/DVD release.
Always keen to bring extra value to their re-releases (alongside an excellent remaster from Andy Pearce which does Vai's work and these songs proud), HNE furnish nine bonus cuts. These include a Bonnet introduced 'anti-drink driving PSA single edit' of "Will You Be Home" alongside rough instrumental demos of seven album cuts and a "Steve Vai Rehearsal" which, while good fun, are reasonably nonessential to all but completists. However the DVD is a different story, a 1984 Japanese show recorded prior to Disturbing's release an absolute joy and (while it has been available elsewhere) it's this releases crown jewels. Unlike Malmsteen on the bonus DVD to Live Sentence, Vai looks like he doesn't want to be somewhere else, he and Bonnet having an onstage chemistry that's fun to watch, while Uvena, Waldo and Shea prove why so many revere their undervalued talents. Mixing tracks from the first two Alcatrazz releases to a few Rainbow numbers and Bonnet's solo hit, "Night Games", the professionally filmed multi-angle show is a winner from start to finish; possibly even making this disc the most impressive in this welcome Alcatrazz reissue series.
DISC ONE: AUDIO CD
1. GOD BLESSED VIDEO
3. WILL YOU BE HOME TONIGHT
4. WIRE AND WOOD
5. DESERT DIAMOND
7. PAINTED LOVER
8. LIGHTER SHADE OF GREEN
9. SONS AND LOVERS
11. BREAKING THE HEART OF THE CITY
12. WILL YOU BE HOME TONIGHT (SINGLE EDIT)
13. GOD BLESSED VIDEO
14. WIRE AND WOOD
16. PAINTED LOVER
17. SONS AND LOVERS
19. BREAKING THE HEART OF THE CITY
20. STEVE VAI REHEARSAL
DISC TWO [DVD-VIDEO] LIVE IN JAPAN 10TH OCTOBER 1984 SHINJUKU KOUSEI NENKIN KAIKAN, TOKYO
1. BREAKING THE HEART OF THE CITY
2. JET TO JET
4. SONS AND LOVERS
5. HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR
6. GOD BLESSED VIDEO
7. WILL YOU BE HOME TONIGHT
8. KREE NAKOORIE
9. SINCE YOU BEEN GONE
10. PAINTED LOVER
11. SUFFER ME
13. TOO YOUNG TO DIE, TOO DRUNK TO LIVE
14. KOJO NO TSUKI
15. NIGHT GAMES
16. ALL NIGHT LONG
Added: August 7th 2016
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Disturbing The Peace at Cherry Red
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