Alcatrazz -Breaking The Heart Of The City: The Very Best Of...album review

Style and substance

Cover art for Alcatrazz -Breaking The Heart Of The City: The Very Best Of...

You can trust Louder Our experienced team has worked for some of the biggest brands in music. From testing headphones to reviewing albums, our experts aim to create reviews you can trust. Find out more about how we review.

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.

Essi Berelian

Whether it’s magazines, books or online, Essi has been writing about rock ’n’ metal for around thirty years. He has been reviews editor for Classic Rock and Metal Hammer, rock reviews editor for lads mag Front and worked for Kerrang!. He has also written the Rough Guide to Heavy Metal and contributed to the Rough Guide to Rock and Rough Guide Book of Playlists, and the Guinness Book of British Hit Singles (13th edition). Most fun interview? Tenacious D – Jack Black and Kyle Gass – for The Pick of Destiny movie book. An avid record/CD/tape collector, he’s amassed more music than he could ever possibly listen to, which annoys his wife no end.