Alcatrazz were the onetime metallers featuring esteemed scene luminaries Graham Bonnet (formerly of Rainbow and MSG... and currently back with Michael Schenker, plus fronting his own eponymously named band), and the Swedish shredding legend, neo-classical whizz, and virtuosic visionary, Yngwie Malmsteen. In fact, Malmsteen only had a two year stint in Alcatrazz before he transformed himself into an autonomous superstar, and was replaced by another virtuoso of a different variety, Steve Vai, albeit his tenure as guitarist in Bonnet's outfit was more ephemeral than that of Malmsteen's. Anyway, I digress. Completing the lineup in 1984, at the time of the show from which 'Live in Japan 1984 - Complete Edition' has been lifted, were bassist Gary Shea, keyboardist Jimmy Waldo and sticksman Jan Uvena.
This double CD release has, according to blurb, been "fully restored and remastered...in a previously unreleased full concert form." Apparently, "the original 24 channel audio multitrack was miraculously discovered" after a "thorough excavation of the vaults." This particular show, which was recorded at Tokyo's Nakano Sun Plaza on 28th January, thirty four years ago, was originally released in an edited and truncated form, "with cuts and overdubs", as 'Live Sentence - No Parole from Rock 'n' Roll'. In fact, that release, I believe, only had nine tracks, so there was a whole heap of songs from the gig that were cut. Also, although not mentioned in the press blurb that arrived with this promo, a quick online investigation reveals the album was reissued in 2014 in a more complete form (although with a slightly different track order to what it has now), and again in 2016 with an accompanying DVD (but again, a different track order on the CD)... albeit the DVD more reflects the setlist on the current earMUSIC reissue, but still not quite complete. So, perhaps we do, in fact, at last have the fullest version of the Nakano Sun Plaza show that there's ever been.
Whatever extensive clean-up processes were applied to the original recordings, everything sounds pretty damn great here. There's no major polish - it sounds like a recording of a show from over three decades ago - but the general sound and mix are very commendable. A little crowd noise and a few sing-alongs are also included in the mix for that live experience feeling and, as I understand, there are no overdubs applied here (unlike the original 'Live Sentence' release), so it's all as it went down in 1984. Personally, I've never been a fan of overdubs. We're all human, right... so, if mistakes are made, then embrace those sonic blemishes and present them as they are. As such, this double live album has a very sincere vibe about it. Raw and organic sounding, but with a fully resonant live sound. It's great!
The performances on here are all first class. Alcatrazz were mightily talented folk. But with Bonnet and Malmsteen in their ranks, that's kind of a given. The former's vocals are incredible (still are, actually, when I caught him in action in November last year). Okay, he does very occasionally hit an off-note... but, caught in the passion of the live performance... and this does sound like an impassioned performance... that's just fine by me, as opposed to the falsity of overdubbing. And the latter's guitar work is pure, classic Malmsteen from that period of his career, with this show pre-empting the release of his first solo album, 'Rising Force', by only a couple of months, with perennial favourites (to this very day), 'Black Star' and 'Far Beyond the Sun'. His solo widdling at the climax of 'Kree Nakoorie' could almost be a segue into his solo work, as could the intro to 'Suffer Me', which shares an idiomatic motif with that of the intro to 'Black Star'.
This comes highly recommended from me. Great tunes throughout (even if the central melody in the aforementioned 'Kree Nakoorie' sounds like it was directly lifted from the main theme from Fred Myrow's soundtrack to Don Coscarelli's 'Phantasm' (1978)), and some incredible performances, there's much to enjoy here. And the raw, rough and ready sound of it all, which has been tidied up just enough, but not in any kind of overzealous way that detracts from the organic live sound, is a definite plus point. A thirty four year old slab of metal history well worth checking out.
LIVE IN JAPAN 1984 - COMPLETE EDITION
Review by Mark Holmes
43:37 & 41:03
28th Sept 2018
DISC ONE: 1) Opening; 2) Too Young to Die; Too Drunk to Live; 3) Hiroshima Mon Amour; 4) Night Games; 5) Big Foot; 6) Island in the Sun; 7) Kree Nakoorie; 8) Coming Bach; 9) Since You Been Gone; 10) Suffer Me
DISC TWO: 1) Desert Song; 2) Jet to Jet; 3) Evil Eye; 4) Guitar Crush; 5) All Night Long; 6) Lost in Hollywood; 7) Kojo No Tsuki; 8) Something Else
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"A thirty four year old slab of metal history well worth checking out."