When the Graham Bonnet Band’s 2017 tour reached Japan, something unexpected happened. In addition to the standard band shows promoting the then current album ‘The Book‘, three more shows took place where bassist Beth-Ami Heavenstone stood aside and ex-Alcatrazz man Gary Shea performed. Those shows, performed under the Alcatrazz name, celebrated that band’s short career with its many hits and misses. Almost as an important a time in Bonnet’s past as his all too short-lived tenure with Rainbow, Alcatrazz remain a much loved band – especially in Japan – so it was only right the shows were recorded for later release.
When they unleashed their debut ‘All The Way’ in 2014, Scandinavian melodic rockers State of Salazar released one of the year’s best albums. With some great choruses and tunes that often paid a massive homage to the mighty Toto, the band hit upon a classic retro style that really tapped into the Swedes’ knack for a melody. The next couple of years came and went. The more time passed, the more it felt like there would never be a follow up.
A four year silence was finally broken in September 2018. First, the band announced they’d be appearing at the Frontiers Rock Sweden festival with label mates Eclipse and Crazy Lixx, but better still, a digital single ‘If You Wait For Me’ appeared on YouTube. Not only were State of Salazar back, but it seemed they were about to make a real impact within the AOR community.
Impelliteri’s tenth studio album ‘Venom‘ was a funny record. Not intentionally so, unfortunately, but lyrically it was so clichéd, it managed to make Judas Priest seem like they could be nominated for an Ivor Novello award at any given moment. Funnier still was Chris Impellitteri’s thinking behind the release: he supposedly wanted to “…create a metal record that would appeal to everyone… Even women”, apparently. Here was a man so stuck within a universe centred around 1984, he failed to even see how a lot of women were active on the metal scene at the time of its release. The very idea that some of them were even in bands might’ve just made his little head explode.
Back in the mid 90s when melodic rock was going through a bit of a purple patch with regards to independent releases, Scandinavian Whitesnake obsessives Snakes In Paradise released two excellent records in the classic rock mould; albums which owed so much to David Coverdale and company, yet came with their own European charm largely thanks to vocalist Stefan Berggren, one of the best voices in the business at that time. After the demise of Snakes In Paradise, Berggren made a very logical move and joined Company of Snakes, a band featuring ex-Whitesnake members Bernie Marsden, Micky Moody and Neil Murray which, as you’d expect, drew more heavily from the ‘Snake’s enduring legacy.
Shortly after the demise of the short-lived Emerson Lake & Powell, keyboard maestro Keith Emerson and drummer Carl Palmer teamed up with ex-Hush multi-instrumentalist Robert Berry to form the melodic rock outfit 3. Their sole album, 1988’s ‘To The Power of Three’ presented a great selection of melodic tunes with occasional progressive flourishes, but despite yielding a US hit single, the album itself wasn’t a commercial success on either side of the Atlantic.
By the early nineties, Keith and Carl had reunited with their old bandmate Greg Lake, whilst Berry embarked on what was to be a very prolific decade of recording. He recorded albums with AOR band Alliance, contributed to several progressive rock tribute albums and even re-booted his solo career. His 1992 release ‘Pilgrimage To A Point’ is a melodic rock/accessible prog classic and in ‘Last Ride Into The Sun’ (an unreleased leftover from the 3 days) even gave prog rock fans something infinitely more proggy than the commercially driven 3 album had allowed.