Alcatrazz-The Official Bootleg Box-Set 1983-1986

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Alcatrazz – The Official Bootleg Box-Set 1983-1986
Released: 2018, HNE Recordings/ Cherry Red
Reviewed: Feb 2019
Reviewer: JP
Rating:   4/5

Many metal fans of a certain age, who grew up in the pre-digital era, still appreciate the art of the physical product and will pay to support that interest. Record labels, manufacturers and retailers have figured this out quite quickly and to cater to this segment of people there are more and more special box-sets, reissues and lavish editions being made. Accordingly I was surprised but not surprised when I discovered that HNE Records was releasing an Alcatrazz box-set.  I didn’t think there would be much market for Alcatrazz, outside of Japan of course, but I’m delighted this got introduced to the market.

Alcatrazz, for our younger readers who may not be as familiar, was an early, America, all-star project that flared very brightly and burned very hot for about five years between 1983 and 1987. They were the definition of ‘huge in Japan’.  They spontaneously combusted in 1987, reformed 20 years later for a few gigs in 2007, but have never been an active recording entity. The band’s legacy has been kept sort of alive over the years with various live albums and compilations, but mostly geared to original fans.  Most recently, last year they reunited and did a few shows in Japan and Frontiers Records released one of the shows as yet another live album. Thus endeth the history lesson.  Enter the box-set!!

THE OFFICAL BOOTLEG BOXSET 1983-1986 is a whopping six-disc set carrying a sub-tile of ‘Live Demos Rehearsals’.  It is a compact box, made to look like a road case and it houses the discs in slipcases inside.  More importantly perhaps for the historians is a 24 page, full colour booklet with tons of photos, memorabilia and a long essay, loaded with quotes. This is a treasure trove of nostalgia.

This is an embarrassment of riches…there is a ton of material to discover!  The box-set features not one, not two, buy three live albums all recorded in close succession in on the bands tour of Texas in March of 1984.  Because they were recorded so close together in time, the set-lists are virtually identical.  The sound quality on these concerts ranges from good to pretty rough.  I think in these modern times we are spoiled with direct-to-board digital technology, unlike the bootleg days of old…but to ensure there is no misunderstanding, it says in several places, these are bootlegs, so quality may be sacrificed. Even in the rough spots these classic songs shine through.

The next three discs are cool, unreleased rarities, demos, rehearsal segments, instrumental versions, all sort sorts of interesting things. You get it down to the day..July 19thand 20thin 1983 to be precise!   On top of all that each disc has several bonus tracks!    The title of CD 6 is ‘Dangerous Games Era Writing Sessions, Instrumentals and Demo ideas 1985/1986.’  Quite a mouthful!   I’ll admit by Disc Six I was starting to loose some enthusiasm for short tracks, really just tiny bits of unfinished musical parts with titles like, ‘Fast Idea’, ‘Slow Idea’,  ‘Rockin’ Idea’, ‘Synth idea’ and ‘Christmas Greeting’ which is essentially sounds like the guys in studio, probably drunk, saying ‘Merry Christmas’ to whoever might be listening in the year 2018.   I think they just recorded everything and decades later, someone dug up the tapes out of a shoebox in someone’s garage or attic, they baked them and now the world gets to hear them.  Most of this stuff has never been released or heard before.

You have to be a pretty die-hard Alcatrazz fan to really embrace all 50+ tracks on the demo/rehearsal/instrumental sections on discs Four, Five and Six.  But that is OK, because those die-hard guys are out there and this box-set is like their holy grail.  They may want to hear and compare all seven different versions of the song ‘Bigfoot’ that appear on this box-set!    I think it is pretty sweet as well.

This really is a great package. The value to me lies in the front-half, the live concerts hearing a young Yngwie J. Malmsteen shred his heart out. As cliché as it sounds this is a mandatory buy for your Alcatrazz enthusiast!


DISC ONE:
LIVE IN LUBBOCK, TEXAS 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

DEMOS 1985/86
13. L9 (INSTRUMENTAL DEMO)
14. STAND BY ME #1 (INSTRUMENTAL DEMO)
15. UNDERCOVER (WRITING DEMO)
16. DOUBLE MAN (INSTRUMENTAL ROUGH DEMO)

DISC TWO:
TEXAS SENTENCE LIVE, 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

DEMOS1985
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)

DISC THREE:
LIVE IN SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS 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

DEMOS 1985
10. THE WITCHWOOD (INSTRUMENTAL DEMO, 1985)
11. WRITING IDEAS FOR DANGEROUS GAMES (TAPE 01) (1985)
12. WRITING IDEAS FOR DANGEROUS GAMES (TAPE 02) (1985)

DISC FOUR:
STUDIO INSTRUMENTAL MIXES & REHEARSALS 1983
STUDIO INSTRUMENTAL MIXES JULY 19TH AND 20TH, 1983
1. KREE NAKOORIE
2. STARRCARR LANE
3. ISLAND IN THE SUN
4. BIG FOOT
5. HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR
6. GENERAL HOSPITAL
7. INCUBUS
8. SUFFER ME
9. TOO YOUNG TO DIE, TOO DRUNK TO LIVE
10. JET TO JET

REHEARSALS 1, 1983
11. JET TO JET #1
12. JET TO JET #2
13. JET TO JET #3
14. KREE NAKOORIE
15. STARRCARR LANE
16. HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR

DISC FIVE:
REHEARSALS 2, 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)

DISC SIX:
DANGEROUS GAMES WRITING SESSIONS 1985/1986
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) HIDDEN TRACK
23. GRAHAM… AM I FIRED TOO

 


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