Ken's Retro Pick: ALCATRAZZ (1983)

Those who know me, know I am a HUGE Graham Bonnet fan. Dating back to his days in Rainbow and The Michael Schenker Group I have been a follower of Bonnet. In 1983 he put together Alcatrazz. This all-star line-up consisted of Bonnet on vocals, guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen who had recently left American band Steeler, Gary Shea and Jimmy Waldo from New England and Clive Burr of Iron Maiden fame. Burr was reportedly only in the band for a week, and left upon discovering that the band was going to be based in the United States, as opposed to his native England. Burr was soon replaced by former Iron Butterfly drummer Jan Uvena, who had just left Alice Cooper’s backing band. Shea dubbed the group “Alcatrazz”. For the first album, the bulk of the material was written by Bonnet and Malmsteen, with Waldo contributing writing to several of the tracks.

The band’s debut album “No Parole From Rock ‘N’ Roll” surfaced in late 1983 on Rocshire Records. MTV gave decent support to the lead single “Island In The Sun” which showed a heavy Rainbow influence. Despite the commercial nature of the song, it barely received any radio play. The album still spent 18 weeks on the Billboard charts and peaked at No. 128. A second video was released in 1984 for “Hiroshima Mon Amour” which became very popular in Japan. Creative differences between Malmsteen and Bonnet surfaced while on tour. Due to this and his admitted desire to begin a solo career, Malmsteen quit in 1984 and formed his own band Rising Force who signed with Polydor Records. Rochsire then put out “Live Sentence”, a concert recording from the recent tour of Japan. A live video concert was also produced. Malmsteen tried to prevent the release of the album but failed. A few Rainbow covers were included, including the classic “Since You Been Gone”. The album would reach No. 133 in the US. Waldo replaced Malmsteen with Steve Vai, former Frank Zappa guitarist, despite resistance from Bonnet, and the band signed with Capitol Records. The group worked on new material and then headlined another tour of Japan which introduced Vai to the fans and allowed them to play new material from the upcoming album.

Here are a few songs from Alcatrazz, “Island in the Sun” and “God Blessed Video”

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