By 1983, Graham Bonnet had already been a vocalist in Rainbow and the Michael Schenker Group. He was in both groups for exceedingly short periods of time, only recording one record with each. Despite that, the work he recorded with both bands ranks amongst their finest work. Of course, the Graham Bonnet story does not stop there.
1983 saw the release of No Parole from Rock N Roll, the first album from Alcatrazz, a Bonnet-fronted group that would go on to release three studio albums in total. The band was noteworthy for being one of the earliest to feature Swedish guitar virtuoso Yngwie Malmsteen, fresh out of his brief stint in Steeler. Gary Shea and Jimmy Waldo, both of whom had previously been members of the band New England, were a part of the lineup as well. While much of the band’s lineup remained constant during their three album tenure, a different guitarist appeared on each record, giving all three albums different sounds and styles despite otherwise common players.
Alcatrazz was the first band to truly let Graham Bonnet stand on his own and do his own thing, and with Yngwie Malmsteen’ s riffs filling out the sound, it seemed like a rock and roll match made in heaven. Sadly, it was not to be, as Malmsteen left not long after the album’s release (although he did continue to play some of these songs as a solo performer). How is the first of the three studio releases from Alcatrazz, and should you add this one to your collection?
No Parole from Rock N Roll is, by far, Alcatrazz’s best album. This is the band at their most straight-up hard rock, though lighter and more melodic elements are still prevalent in the music as well, likely due to Bonnet’s pop background. The result is a product that has songs that sound commercial, but not overly so. It is a great balance of the musical extremes, and definitely gives Malmsteen a chance to shine as well.
There are countless classic anthems on this record. “Island in the Sun” is a great opener, with a melodic sound fused with Malmsteen’s killer riffs. “General Hospital” takes things in a harder rocking direction, yet still manages to maintain the more melodic elements and pop sensibility that only Bonnet could bring to the threshold. We get more fantastic riffs in tunes like “Jet to Jet,” though the album’s strongest track remains the rock anthem “Hiroshima Mon Amour,” with deep, thought provoking lyrics regarding the use of atomic weapons. It is a great combination of sounds and the absolute culmination of this collaboration between Bonnet and Malmsteen. The album’s second side is no less satisfying; any fan of classic hard rock is sure to agree here.
In recent years, the album was remastered and reissued with bonus tracks; you get instrumental demo versions of all of the tracks on the album. These cuts make for some interesting listening for fans of the band, though at the same time I cannot imagine one revisiting these on a fairly regular basis.
If you are a fan of classic hard rock, Graham Bonnet, Yngwie Malmsteen, or any of the above, No Parole from Rock N Roll is a must own album that is not to be missed. Check out these classic hard rock musicians in their heyday, on what is by far the best of the three Alcatrazz records. No fan of any of these artists is going to be disappointed.