Alcatrazz – No Parole From Rock N’ Roll (Review)

Alcatrazz – No Parole From Rock N’ Roll (1983)

Following short-lived but inspired stints with both the volatile Ritchie Blackmore and the mad axeman Michael Schenker, vocalist Graham Bonnet decided to form his own band, Alcatrazz, with hot, upcoming guitarist… Yngwie M. F. Malmsteen. Talk about “out of the frying pan and into the fire”. Unsurprisingly this pairing proved just as short-lived, ending in a blaze of egos and fisticuffs, but it also proved equally inspired with both musicians delivering at their peak on Alcatrazz’s superb debut album, 1983’s No Parole From Rock N’ Roll.

Alcatrazz was conceived as a Rainbow-style outfit. And with songs like the parpy AOR opener Island In The Sun and the Spotlight Kid rerun Jet To Jet, their debut definitely fits the bill. But there’s something more sophisticated at work here. Yngwie’s neo-classical riffing adds an intricate, frosty edge and his soloing on tracks like Kree Nakoorie is impossibly exciting. And Bonnet responds with a forceful and acrobatic vocal performance that thrills on tracks like General Hospital as well as contributing to the album’s cerebral edge with intelligent, quirky lyrics on tracks like the phenomenal Hiroshima Mon Amour (“the fireball that shamed the sun”). The languid Big Foot drags a bit and the bluesy Suffer Me is a little anti-climatic but there is no escaping the fact that No Parole From Rock N’ Roll is a dazzling, state-of-the-art, riot in the dungeon.

22 thoughts on “Alcatrazz – No Parole From Rock N’ Roll (Review)”

  1. I bought this as it had Shea and Waldo from New England in this band and of course Bonnet who was on what is perhaps the best MSG studio album. Some pretty good stuff from what I recall.
    Great job Scott

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Vai is on Disturbing The Peace which is brilliant too. Kinda surprised you don’t like some Yng stuff… this would be a good one to try as it is very much a band effort. But Marching Out and Odyssey and Eclipse… all awesome albums.


      1. I remember reading that and thinking WTF. Schenker was the Wild Axeman but Bonnet was the Wild …..
        From an Alcatraz point of view, I purchased it from a second hand record shop many years after it was released and it was because at the point in time I was a Yngwie fan, (I lost interest after the Fire and Ice) album. And man, his technique and command of his instrument for such a young age blew me away.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I was late to Alcatrazz as well. Picked it up hella cheap in a charity shop (and got the Vai one too). I’ve got some later Yngwie albums but I don’t really know them well. The era up to Fire And Ice is my fave period too.


  2. Out of the frying pan & into the fire – A Hobbit chapter, is it not?
    And I like those groups where you look at the band members and think/know, this won’t be sustainable, but it can be great while it lasts!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right, like it’s a laboratory experiment w/ vital investments to perform. I bought this vinyl second hand without hearing a note but I’d heard and liked Street of Dreams and Ships Are Gonna Burn on the radio and that was enough. Plus, this album’s line up had names that beguiled me as teen.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. One of my fave tracks on here is General Hospital. I like how Bonnett sings the bridges in nursing type character:

    Be calm please lay back
    We will help you rest for a while

    Malmsteen’s guitar solo sears but I hear him at the temperature control manipulating his expression. And I dig his dramatic build up too.

    “Frosty” – I just gave Kree Nakoorie a listen. I think that’s the heaviest track on the album. Some cold balance to Bonnet’s warm erruption-like tones. I also like Bonnett’s vivid but opaque lyric style. Images come to mind but the whole story is mysterious.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah both those tracks are phenomenal. Island In The Sun is a bit of a false start really. Then General Hospital just blows you away. Bonnet’s range in the chorus… phenomenal. Doesn’t seem like they did that one live back then though which is a shame.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. How could you be in a band with Yngwie and not want to twat him one after about 15 minutes?
    I don’t know this at all, I liked the hospital track and thought the vocals were the weakest thing about it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Bonnet’s vocals are very Marmite in fairness. I think he’s phenomenal on that. And it’s only my opinion that really matters, let’s face it!
      I think it was initially Yngwie that twatted Bonnet! Bonnet unplugged his guitar a couple of times during his solo and unleashed the fucking fury!

      Liked by 2 people

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