In Retrospective ...
Updated: Jan 14, 2019
ALCATRAZZ – “Disturbing the Peace” (1985), Capitol Records
ALCATRAZZ recorded three albums, each with a different guitarist. Founded in 1983 by vocalist Graham Bonnet, Jimmy Waldo (keyboards, synthesizers) and Gary Shea (bass), the band enlisted Clive Burr (Iron Maiden) as their initial drummer. Well, that didn’t work out too well, since ALCATRAZZ was going to be based in the United States, as opposed to Burr’s native England. Shortly after, the band recruited Jan Uvena (Alice Cooper, Iron Butterfly) to fill the position. The core of Bonnet, Waldo, Shea and Uvena remained unchanged until the act’s disbandment, in 1987.
In October 1983, the band released “No Parole from Rock ‘n’ Roll”, with guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen, who had recently left Steeler. Following an altercation with Bonnet, Malmsteen left ALCATRAZZ and created his own band, Rising Force. Waldo replaced Malmsteen with former Frank Zappa guitarist Steve Vai, despite resistance from Bonnet, and the band signed with Capitol Records.
In the spring of 1985, on March 22nd, ALCATRAZZ released “Disturbing the Peace”, produced under the directions of the legendary Eddie Kramer. Where their debut album was clearly influenced by Malmsteen’s neoclassical style, and a Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow type production, the sophomore effort with Steve Vai was a more straight forward heavy metal record. “Disturbing the Peace” is arguably one of Steve Vai’s heaviest albums. The ability to constantly and flawlessly alternate from riffs to hooks to solos, and back, was something that Steve had already accomplished at that early stage of his guitar God status. Being a pure mid 80s production, the sound relays heavily on synthesizers, but leaves plenty of room for belters like “Stripper” and gallopers such as “Skyfire”. Worth mentioning is also the great vocal effort from Graham, who sounds his best when he pushes himself outside of the comfort zone and into the higher notes. This album is proof of that! The vast majority of the songwriting on the album was a collaboration between Graham and Steve. After its release the album remained for 7 weeks on the Billboard 200 albums chart, peaking at No. 145 and charted for a total of 16 weeks, in the rock charts.
Unfortunately, ALCATRAZZ could never break out of their small following, and the support tour for “Disturbing the Peace” had to be cut short due to financial issues. Shortly after, Steve Vai was invited to join David Lee Roth’s solo band, which he formed upon leaving Van Halen, in 1985. Steve’s split from ALCATRAZZ was in good terms, and he was replaced by guitarist Danny Johnson (Rod Stewart, Alice Cooper), with whom they recorded what became ALCATRAZZ’s final studio album, “Dangerous Games,” released in the fall of 1986. The band split up in 1987. Graham Bonnet reformed his own version of the band as Alcatrazz featuring Graham Bonnet in the new millennium, with various supporting musicians, touring and making festival appearances.
“Disturbing the Peace” is a great, yet underrated American heavy metal album, well written, recorded and produced. Enjoy the music!
© 2018 by Emil Chiru