ALCTRAZZ – Official Bootleg Box Set Volume 2: 1983-1984

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.

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MONTROSE – I Got The Fire: The Complete Recordings 1973-76

1973 was a fantastic year for rock music. Pink Floyd released a world beater with ‘Dark Side of The Moon’; Led Zeppelin offered ‘Houses of The Holy’ – one of their most varied and adventurous works to date – and Queen introduced the world to their mix of pomp and pop with a confident, if flawed, first album. With other superb albums by Paul McCartney & Wings (‘Band On The Run’ and ‘Red Rose Speedway’), two great works from Elton (‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ and ‘Don’t Shoot Me’), two from future megastar Bruce Springsteen, the Stones’ branching out on ‘Goat’s Head Soup’, and Yes disappearing up their collective backsides on ‘Tales of Topographic Oceans’, the year offered the discerning music fan something interesting at every turn.

Somewhere among the noise, US hard rockers Montrose made their breakthrough. Their self-titled debut album is as powerful as the Van Halen debut from ’77, with riff after riff on a filler free, half hour slab of plastic. As raucous as New York Dolls, and as groove laden as the best Johnny & Edgar Winter tomes, decades on, it remains a near perfect example of American hard rock. In the UK, neither Montrose or their debut album get talked about as often as they should be, but ‘I’ve Got The Fire’, a 6CD box set from Cherry Red certainly aims to change that by shining a massive light upon an all too short time at the top, bringing together pretty much everything the band recorded during a very prolific four years.

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UFO – High Stakes & Dangerous Men / Lights Out In Tokyo

The body of work released by UFO’s second incarnation – featuring the now legendary Michael Schenker on guitar – has inevitably overshadowed the rest of their catalogue. The run of releases between 1974’s ‘Phenomena’ and 1979’s career-defining live album ‘Strangers In The Night’ represents a musical CV that would make any rock band proud, but there is so much more to UFO than those “glory years”.

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PAUL DI’ANNO’S BATTLEZONE – Killers In The Battlezone (1986-2000)

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.

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PETER BARDENS – Long Ago, Far Away: The Recordings 1969-71

Keyboard player Peter Bardens first achieved wide recognition as a member of UK prog band Camel, but prior to their formation in 1971, he had already taken major steps towards a full time musical career. He was first a member of Peter B’s Looners – a blues and soul band that eventually became Shotgun Express and featured future megastars Mick Fleetwood and Rod Stewart – before joining Irish rhythm and blues band Them in time to record their debut album. By 1969, he’d become a member of the short-lived band Village, which also featured future Sutherland Brothers & Quiver bassist Bruce Thomas, later to achieve genuine stardom as a member of Elvis Costello’s Attractions. For anyone with a keen interest in the history of British R&B, these musical ventures would be enough alone to secure Bardens a place within a pantheon of cult musical figures.

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