Famously dubbed ‘thinking man’s heavy metal’ by singer Graham Bonnet and featuring some serious muso talent, Alcatrazz should have enjoyed more success than eventually just providing a stepping stone for hotshot guitarists Yngwie Malmsteen and Steve Vai.
Across three packed CDs, Breaking The Heart Of The City makes a fair fist of distilling the band’s studio highlights, from 1983’s Rainbow-like Malmsteen showcase No Parole From Rock’n’Roll, 1985’s more playful Vai vehicle Disturbing The Peace and 1986’s Dangerous Games, featuring bluesier player Danny Johnson, plus cuts from 1984’s fiery Live Sentence.
The usual suspects are all present and correct – Island In The Sun, Hiroshima Mon Amour, God Blessed Video and live takes of Since You’ve Been Gone, All Night Long and Lost In Hollywood. However, it’s the plethora of lo-fi demo and rehearsal tracks that should hook in fans, particularly the good chunk of previously unreleased selections from 1983 and 1985, including multiple patience–testing versions of Kree Nakoorie, Incubus and Big Foot.
As a spotlight on the band’s creative process, they’ll be catnip to Yngwie obsessives but will probably leave more casual listeners cold. Altogether, an impressive demonstration of guitar pyrotechnics harnessed to solid 80s-style songcraft.