Alcatrazz – Born Innocent (Silver Lining Music)
It’s four years since Alcatrazz claimed their first Rushonrock Record Of The Week.
The career-spanning Ultimate Fortress box set served as a timely reminder of the LA hard rockers’ flash-in-the-pan potential.
But back then there was little prospect of any fresh material from Graham Bonnet’s post-Rainbow project.
Fast forward to 2020 and the 72-year-old frontman is enjoying an Indian summer.
Solo shows and stints with the revived Graham Bonnet Band have returned one of classic rock’s most definitive voices to centre stage.
And the rousing rebirth of Alcatrazz is simply the latest step on the road to career fulfilment.
Ironically, given Bonnet’s class and stature, this band has always been as much about the electrified licks as the sweet harmonies.
Yngwie Malmsteen and Steve Vai both served time and honed their sound with Alcatrazz.
The latter even lends a song to Born Innocent: the sleazy Dirty Like The City is a standout here.
Vai doesn’t go as far as reprising his studio role but Bonnet stays true to Alcatrazz’s storied past by drafting in a slew of fret-melting warriors.
Japanese wizard Nozumu Wakai heats up Finn McCool and the late Bob Kulick stars on his own tune I Am The King.
But best of all there’s a brief yet brilliant cameo from Annihilator’s Jeff Waters – the man charged with shredding Bonnet’s Paper Flags.
Malmsteen, more than most, casts a constant shadow over his peers with the title track refreshingly reminiscent of the Swede’s mid to late 80s heyday.
And Joe Stump, the latest custodian of the Alcatrazz axes, does an incredible job reprising the roles of his big-name predecessors.
Original member Jimmy Waldo returns with layers of sweeping keys throughout.
The emotive intro. to We Still Remember is vintage Waldo and just one example of his enduring value to these hard rock heroes.
Bonnet has always been able to sing about wooing girls and partying hard.
But he’s a historian and storyteller at heart and always sounded at home relaying Rainbow’s more magical tales.
Here he goes back to 1666 and the Great Fire Of London on the aptly titled London 1666 – one of the most immersive tracks here.
In the current circumstances it’s difficult to imagine Born Innocent’s top picks played live anytime soon.
But we can only hope.
This is no mere vanity project from Bonnet.
The first Alcatrazz album since 1986 is a worthy addition to a timeless canon.