Title - 'Dangerous Games: Expanded Edition'
Artist - Alcatrazz
As all fans of heavy rock will for sure already know, Graham Bonnet is a British rock singer/songwriter. Having performed both solo and as a member of several metal acts such as Rainbow, MSG and the highly under-rated Alcatrazz it was in 1981 (after his break from Rainbow, which, although he only stayed for a short time with them, still managed to produce some of their finest, all be they pop-fused tracks: 'Since You've Been Gone' and 'I Surrender,' to name just two), that he chose to resume his solo career.
Backtracking to the aforementioned Alcatrazz though, it was his turn in this so-called (at the time) American heavy metal band back in 1983 that began to cement both his name and his distinctive vocals in musical folklore. Alongside Bonnet at the time were Jimmy Waldo and Gary Shea, and although they will always be best known for their songs 'Island In The Sun' and 'God Blessed Video', Alcatrazz managed to release some still-today noted as incredible rock material.
Indeed, the band's initial line-up consisted of the former Rainbow front man Graham Bonnet, Shea, Waldo, a young Swedish guitarist named Yngwie Malmsteen (who had recently left American band Steeler), and Clive Burr of Iron Maiden fame. Burr was reportedly only in the band for a week, and left upon discovering 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. Also, it was actually Shea who dubbed the group "Alcatrazz". For the first album, the bulk of the material was written by Bonnet and Malmsteen, with Waldo contributing to several tracks. That debut album was 1983's cock-sure No Parole From Rock 'N' Roll (Rocshire Records), and although the band members came and went, the music still got released. Next up was 1985's powerhaus Disturbing the Peace, which in turn was followed a year later by Dangerous Games.
Now re-released in a fantastic Expanded Edition format via Cherry Red Records, among the originals included on Dangerous Games: Expanded Edition is a cover of The Animals’ ‘It’s My Life’, as well as a re-reading of ‘Only One Woman’, a song written by Robin, Maurice and Barry Gibb that had previously been a hit for Graham’s pop duo The Marbles way back in 1968.
In truth, the album marked a drastic departure from the bands two previous albums with its heavily Japanese influenced style. It was also the first and only appearance for new guitarist Danny Johnson who replaced Steve Vai, after he left the band to join The David Lee Roth Band in 1986. Therefore, and in my humble opinion, Dangerous Games is a less immediate album and one that definitely (even for hardened fans) requires patience and several listening moments to be fully appreciated.
1. 'It's My Life'
3. 'That Ain't Nothin'
4. 'No Imagination'
5. 'Ohayo Tokyo'
6. 'Dangerous Games'
7. 'Blue Boar'
8. 'Only One Woman'
9. 'The Witchwood'
10. 'Double Man'
11. 'Night Of The Shooting Star'
BONUS TRACKS* - LIVE AT LONG ISLAND, NY, USA [29TH NOVEMBER 1986]
12. 'Island In The Sun'
13. 'It's My Life'
15. 'God Blessed Video'
16. 'Double Man'
17. 'Wire And Wood'
18. 'Since You Been Gone'
19. 'All Night Long'
*Previously Unreleased Audience Recording
Again, and in MHO, apart from the excellent, and truly rocking tracks such as the vibrant trio of "It's My Life," "Undercover," and "Tokyo," I was initially unimpressed with this album (back in the day), but was very, well, shall we say nostalgia-driven to give it another spin here in this Expanded Edition format - some 30 years later. It is still most definitely not even close to the non-remitting musical onslaught that their debut No Parole from Rock 'n' Roll brought forth, but even today there are some masterful rock moments contained here.
Aside from the remastered audio album, also included is a very rare and previously unreleased live “audience” recording from Long Island, captured in November 1986 on the “Dangerous Games” tour. Included are unique, if rough and ready versions of Alcatrazz classics ‘Island In The Sun’ and ‘God Blessed Video’, as well as Rainbow hits ‘Since You Been Gone’ and ‘All Night Long’. Being a MASSIVE Rainbow fan, and primarily when Bonnet was their leader, I personally adore the latter two rough gems, but the other cuts are, well, yeah, distorted-at-times, hard to love, but a delightful nod back to how it must have felt to have seen them play small clubs.
That said, this brand new release also includes new liner notes from Classic Rock’s Malcolm Dome based on recent interviews with Graham Bonnet. Oh, and for all us devoted fans of Alcatrazz and all-things Graham Bonnet, The Graham Bonnet Band and a reformed Alcatrazz will be touring together in 2017!
'Dangerous Games: Expanded Edition' CD Purchase Link