Alcatrazz – The Ultmate Fortress Box Set (Store For Music)
Genre: Hard Rock
Although Alcatrazz provided Graham Bonnet with the perfect post-Rainbow/MSG platform, the real treasure within this jam-packed box set comes courtesy of two guitarists who would go on to rule the world of riffs.
Listen to No Parole For Rock N Roll and it’s clear where Yngwie Malmsteen was heading – his contribution to a killer record sewed the seeds for the Swede’s landmark album Odyssey.
Complementing Bonnet’s supreme vocals with a flurry of histrionic hooks, the guitar hero has a ball on Alacatrazz’a dazzling debut. Five years later Mallmsteen hooked up with Joe Lynn Turner to do it all again with his own Rising Force and the similarities remain striking.
By the time Alcatrazz had fired off live album Live Sentence the fiery Malmsteen was gone but his equally volatile replacement generated the same buzz of anticipation.
The decision to bring Steve Vai on board guaranteed guitar fans would continue to flock to gigs where technical wizardry traded blows with bluesy rock and roll.
Disturbing The Peace debuted the Bonnet-Vai axis but despite a slick Eddie Kramer production job and the timely God Blessed Video single, a genuine commercial breakthrough continued to elude Alcatrazz. An album made for the mid-80s sounds like it should have shifted millions and as a record of its time it still stands the test of time.
Vai – never Bonnet’s first choice – was picked up by David Lee Roth and Danny Johnston became the latest six-stringer to join Alacatrazz’s revolving doors line-up. Dangerous Games was released in 1986 but its mix of covers and pop rock doesn’t do justice to a frontman still capable of hitting the high notes in 2016.
Thankfully The Ultimate Fortress Box Set doesn’t stop there – vintage Japanese concerts introduce a raft of Rainbow classics and there’s evidence of Bonnet’s enduring class as last June’s Graham Bonnet Band set gets an airing.
At their peak – with Malmsteen and Vai firing on all cylinders – Alcatrazz were sensational. Thirty years later theirs is still a mysterious story of what might have been…
RUSHONROCK RATED: 8/10 Rock And Parole