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6 Degrees Entertainment

Title - Alcatrazz: The Official Bootleg Box Set 1983-1986
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.

In fact, the last few years have been a bumper time for Graham Bonnet fans, as HNE Recordings continue to reissue expanded sets from Graham’s back catalogue as well as Alcatrazz, Blackthorne, Graham’s solo albums and Yngwie Malmsteen’s solo albums.

And now Cherry Red Records have taken the aura of the band and brought out a rather wondrous live/studio/demo collection entitled, Alcatrazz: The Official Bootleg Box Set 1983-1986.

CD's One, Two and Three all feature concerts recorded in Texas in 1984, and although the illicit sound quality is far from perfect, each concert demonstrates what an exciting live prospect Alcatrazz truly were.

Also, and importantly (for the world at large), in Yngwie Malmsteen they had found a fiery, preciously talented lead guitarist.

With only one studio LP to draw on it was inevitable that Bonnet and his new crew would pepper the set with highlights from his back catalogue, including Rainbow’s ‘Since You Been Gone’, ‘All Night Long’ and ‘Lost In Hollywood’ as well as Michael Schenker’s ‘Desert Song’ from the underrated Assault Attack.

From the aforementioned Alcatrazz debut, highlights include ‘Too Drunk To Live , Too Young To Die’, ‘Hiroshima Mon Amour’, ‘Big Foot’, ‘Island In The Sun’, ‘Kree Nakoorie’, ‘Suffer Me’ and ‘Jet To Jet’.

These live shows were also an important place for the young Yngwie to showcase his immense talents with a Fender Stratocaster, with his lead guitar solo spot a major highlight of each show.

CD 1: Live Lubbock, 9th March 1984
1. 'Too Drunk to Live, Too Young to Die' (Excerpt)
2. 'Hiroshima Mon Amour'
3. 'Big Foot'
4. 'Island in the Sun'
5. 'Kree Nakoorie'
6. Guitar Solo
7. 'Since You Been Gone'
8. 'Suffer Me'
9. 'Desert Song'
10. 'Jet to Jet'
11. 'All Night Long'
12. 'Lost in Hollywood'
13. 'L9' (Instrumental Demo)
14. 'Stand By Me #1' (Instrumental Demo)
15. 'Undercover' (Writing Demo)
16. 'Double Man' (Instrumental Rough Demo)

CD 2: Texas Sentence Live, March 1984
1. 'Too Drunk to Live, Too Young to Die/Big Foot'
2. 'Island in the Sun'
3. 'Kree Nakoorie'
4. Guitar Solo
5. 'Since You Been Gone'
6. 'Suffer Me'
7. 'Desert Song'
8. 'Jet to Jet'
9. 'Evil Eye'
10. 'All Night Long'
11. 'Lost in Hollywood'
12. 'Dangerous Games' (Instrumental Rough Demo, 1985)
13. 'Danny & Jimmy' (Instrumental Demo #1,1985)
14. 'Danny & Jimmy' (Instrumental Demo #2,1985)
15. 'Undercover' (Background-Vocal Take, 1985)

CD 3: Live San Antonio, March 8th 1984
1. 'Too Young to Die, Too Drunk to Live'
2. 'Hiroshima Mon Amour'
3. 'Big Foot'
4. 'Island in the Sun'
5. 'Kree Nakoorie'
6. Guitar Solo
7. 'Suffer Me' (Excerpt)
8. 'Desert Song'
9. 'All Night Long'

CDs Four and Five are yet another unique and useful insight into the working of this band’s early work ethic, with demos and instrumentals from the 1983 debut demonstrating many of the songs’ developments.

CD 4: Studio Instrumental Mixes, July 19th & 20th, 1983
1. 'Kree Nakoorie'
2. Guitar Solo'
3. 'Suffer Me' (Excerpt)
4. 'Desert Song'
5. 'All Night Long'
6. 'The Witchwood' (Instrumental Demo, 1985)
7. Writing Ideas for Dangerous Games (Tape 01) (1985)
8. Writing Ideas for Dangerous Games (Tape 02) (1985)
9. 'Kree Nakoorie'
10. 'Starrcarr Lane'
11. 'Island in the Sun'
12. 'Big Foot'
13. 'Hiroshima Mon Amour'
14. 'General Hospital'
15. 'Incubus'
16. 'Suffer Me'
17. 'Too Young to Die, Too Drunk to Live'
18. 'Jet to Jet'
Another Rehearsal, 1983
19. 'Jet to Jet #1'
20. 'Jet to Jet #2'
21. 'Jet to Jet #3'
22. 'Kree Nakoorie'
23. 'Starrcarr Lane'
24. 'Hiroshima Mon Amour'

CD 5: Another Rehearsal Two, 1983
1. 'Jet to Jet'
2. 'Kree Nakoorie'
3. 'Starrcarr Lane'
4. 'Hiroshima Mon Amour'
5. 'Island in the Sun'
6. 'Big Foot #1'
7. 'Big Foot #2'
8. 'Big Foot #3'
9. 'Kree Nakoorie' (Another Rehearsal 02, 1983)
10. 'Unreleased Song'
11. 'Incubus'
12. 'Suffer Me' (With Graham Vocal) (Another Rehearsal 02, 1983)
13. 'S.O.S.' (Lawrence Juber, Guitar) & Robert Williams, Drums Audition)
14. 'S.O.S.' (Jon Hyde Audition)
15. 'Double Man' (Instrumental 24 Track Studio Demo)

Following Yngwie’s departure in 1984, Alcatrazz featured the undeniable talents of Steve Vai on lead guitar, before settling on the more bluesy stylings of Danny Johnson, who features on CD6, working on various song ideas for Alcatrazz’s third and final studio album in 1986, Dangerous Games.

CD 6: Dangerous Games Era Writing Sessions, Instrumentals & Demo Ideas 1985/86
1. 'You Can't Take the Rock Out of Roll' (Danny Johnson Vocals)
2. 'Rockin' Idea' (Instrumental 24 Track Studio Demo)
3. 'Ghostly Idea' (Jimmy & Graham Musical Idea)
4. 'Atmospheric Idea' (Danny & Jimmy Demo)
5. 'Fast Idea' (Danny & Jimmy Demo)
6. 'Mid-Tempo Idea' (Danny & Jimmy Demo)
7. 'Another Mid-Tempo Idea' (With Graham Vocal Idea Intro)
8. 'Another Rockin Idea (Danny & Jimmy Demo)'
9. 'Floaty Idea (Danny & Jimmy Demo)'
10. 'Please Call Me (Instrumental Demo)'
11. 'Slow Idea (Danny & Jimmy Demo)'
12. 'Stand By Me #2 (Instrumental Demo)'
13. 'Blue Boar (Intrumental Demo Take #2)'
14. 'Dangerous Games (Instrumental 24 Track Studio Demo)'
15. 'Ohayo Tokyo (Instrumental Demo)'
16. 'Set Me Free (Instrumental Demo Take #5)'
17. 'Undercover (Instrumental Demo #2)'
18. 'Undercover (Instrumental Demo #3)'
19. 'Rider (Instrumental Demo #2)'
20. 'The Witchwood/Christmas Greeting'
21. 'Jimmy Waldo Idea' (Jimmy Waldo Demo)
22. 'Synth Idea' (Jimmy & Graham Musical Idea)
23. 'Graham... Am I Fired Too'

Listening to these CDs, one after another, quite literally binge-listening Alcatrazz live and in the studio, it's really obvious why Cherry Red issued this "warning" about the audio quality on the same page as the sales pitch: "Whilst every effort has been made to produce the best possible audio, limitations in the material drawn from various, non-standard and unofficial sources means that the quality may not be up to the standard usually expected."

"All tracks have been included for their historical importance, and to present an alternative anthology of Graham Bonnet and Alcatrazz live on stage and in rehearsal, from 1983-1986."

And, in all fairness, and whilst they are telling it like it truly is, all fans of Graham Bonnet and Alcatrazz should already surely know that what they have in their hands with this brilliant 6CD Box-Set is, without a shadow of a doubt, musical gold.

It truly doesn't matter how bad or uneasy or fuzzy some of these live recordings are for the unearthed, rare studio gems contained inside here are worth, as mentioned, their weight in gold, that's for damn sure.

'Alcatrazz: The Official Bootleg Box Set 1983-1986' - 6CD Official Purchase Link