The mid 80s saw a slew of guitarists whom, obsessed with the neo-classical chops of Deep Purple/Rainbow guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, foisted upon the world various records that often seemed to do little more than regurgitate Blackmore’s more inventive playing at twice the speed. Yngwie Malmsteen is arguably the best known practitioner of the style and it’s no coincidence that his 1988 album ‘Odyssey’ remains the finest of all his albums thanks to the presence of an ex-Rainbow vocalist, Joe Lynn Turner, on most tracks. Roughly around the same time Yngwie was recording his masterwork, another shredder, Chris Impelliteri had also enlisted an ex-Rainbow voice – Mr. Graham Bonnet – for singing duties on his first full length studio album, ‘Stand In Line’.
When Yngwie Malmsteen left Alcatrazz in 1984, the heavy metal titans found themselves in the position of having to find a new guitarist capable of filling some incredibly huge boots. Just as importantly, if reports are to be believed, they were looking for someone much less likely to punch vocalist Graham Bonnet in the face. A few hopefuls auditioned for the difficult role, one of which was a massively talented young man from Connecticut.
His name was Chris Impellitteri. Graham was rather keen to give Chris the job, but as history has shown, he was outvoted in favour of the now legendary Steve Vai. Impellitteri, in turn, formed his own eponymously named band, and with huge input from vocalist and songwriter Rob Rock, self-released a debut EP in 1987.
In the minds of many, Trapeze will be best remembered as the band that gave the now legendary Glenn Hughes his first major steps in the music world. On three albums recorded between 1969 and 1972, Hughes showed a strong vocal talent. Whether tackling strange psychedelic jams (as per the Trapeze debut), or losing himself within deep, soulful blues, it seemed there was nothing the young musician couldn’t take in his stride. It wasn’t until the release of 1972’s ‘You Are The Music…We’re Just The Band’, however, that Hughes and Trapeze really hit upon a perfect sound, with a blend of hard rock, blues and soul that would rival the likes of Free in terms of talent. As great as the album was – and remains – it failed to chart, but Trapeze hadn’t gone entirely unnoticed. Whilst playing live shows for the album, Hughes was headhunted by Ritchie Blackmore for a new line up of Deep Purple, and fter the release of their ‘Burn’ LP in 1974 – a massive hit on both sides of the Atlantic – Glenn’s career was catapulted into the stratosphere.
During their original run, Alcatrazz weren’t especially stable. They recorded three studio albums with three different guitarists, and went from humble beginnings to imploding within five years. Given how short-lived the band’s time in the sun actually was, it’s absolutely staggering how many bootleg recordings were made. In terms of popularity, they never managed to reach the heights of Iron Maiden or Judas Priest, and yet someone pushed the record button surreptitiously whenever and wherever the band appeared.
In 2018, fans were treated to a wealth of these unofficial recordings in an official capacity when HNE Recordings released a 6CD box set made up of various live tapes and studio rehearsals. The quality was often rough, much like old bootlegs you might have sourced from record fairs back in the 80s and 90s, but the historical value of some of the material just couldn’t be ignored. Surprisingly, there was enough material – and seemingly enough interest – for a second volume, and this 5CD set offers fans much more of the same.
Paul Di’Anno’s contributions to the first two Iron Maiden albums would be enough alone to secure him a legendary status. His rough edged, almost punky style did so much to give those now classic recordings a real energy, and both ‘Iron Maiden’ and ‘Killers’ have continued to receive a massive amount of love, even decades after fans heard them for the very first time.