Following on from Volume 1, which emerged four years ago on HNE Recordings, legacy rockers Alcatrazz are back with another bumper collection of live recordings, demos, interviews and, perhaps most importantly, a Public Service Announcement made by vocalist Graham Bonnet warning against the evils of drink driving!

If you were a fan of the band then this, of course, is an absolute smorgasbord of nostalgic fun. If you’re not weeping with joy at the heads down grandeur of Disc 1’s incendiary take on Jet To Jet live from Huntington Beach in December 1983, there’s a fair chance there may be something wrong with your hearing; however, the jury remains out on whether anyone, really, needs five ‘non-standard source’ recordings of Too Young To Die… Too Drunk To Live.

I’m joking, of course. There’s always the skip button, after all; but over the course of this sprawling collection, which obviously features all the hits and more, there’s enough good stuff available to keep even a casual observer interested throughout.

The band had been formed around Bonnet’s desire to create a vehicle for himself in the Rainbow mould; Using members of American pomp underdogs New England was certainly a masterstroke, with bassist Gary Shea and keysman Jimmy Waldo providing the uber-professional bedrock with former Alice Cooper drummer Jan Uvena over which Bonnet was able to form a mercurial partnership with then little-known ‘Blackmore clone’ Yngwie Malmsteen. Returning to that Huntingdon Beach recording again, the band’s searing take on pop metal behemoth All Night Long shows that Bonnet got his wishes fulfilled to the letter.

Disc two is perhaps the most historically interesting, recorded in Osaka a mere four days before the band made the recordings that would become their second album, Live Sentence, in Tokyo. If Huntington Beach proved the band could take on a sweaty club and burn it to the ground, disc two shows them, a mere month later, taking on a rather more impressive venue with the same results. The comparative reserve of the Japanese audience is also interesting to note…

The other discs offer up more of the same, most notably Disc four, recorded at Cleveland’s legendary Agora Ballroom, and I’ll leave it to you to decide which is your favourite.

There’s a quote attributed to Bonnet about the band that sums Alcatrazz up perfectly: “we were a bunch of A-list musicians in a B-list band”. But my, they were a b-list band that could kick up a hell of a racket when they were on song – and this excellent box set proves that time and again.


Alcatrazz: Official Bootleg Box Set: Volume 2 (1983-84) releases on August 26th.