ALCATRAZZ – Parole Denied – Tokyo 2017
This live album by the renowned Alcatrazz containing their 2017 gig in Tokyo came out not that long ago and the result is a satsfying one. The band consists of members of both Alcatrazz (Graham Bonnet, Gary Shea, and Jimmy Waldo) and the Graham Bonnet Band (Conrado Pesinato and Mark Benquechea), but it totally works and everyone involved is pouring their heart and soul into the performance. Bonnet’s vocals are strong and booming here and sound (suspiciously) good while Shea’s wicked bass lines are quite prominent in the mix, which suits me just fine. Pesinato does a stellar job of interpreting the Alcatrazz catalogue and is in many ways the true hero of "Parole Denied". The production has a warm and organic vibe to it that is really appealing and if you close you eyes, it actually feels as if you are right there in the middle of the crowd with the band tearing it up onstage in front of you. Pretty cool, eh?
"Too Young to Die, Too Drunk to Live", "Skyfire", "Hiroshima Mon Amour", and "Jet to Jet" are some of the highlights of the set and are perhaps slightly more confident and hard-hitting compared to most of the other tracks. The melancholy "Suffer Me" sounds absolutely sensational and Graham’s vocals are downright chilling here. I cannot even begin to explain how brilliant this particular live rendition of that haunting old classic is! You want raw emotion and passion? Look no further than that one!
Apart from the live set, you also get a second disc with eight old demo versions of various songs and ideas from 1985 on. Frankly speaking, most of them come across as dreadful and dated not to mention that they are soaked in awfully clichéd synthesizers. No wonder those forgettable cuts never saw the light of day back then. Having said that, "Losing You is Winning" has potential and could have been worked into a great song.
"Parole Denied – Tokyo 2017" is a highly solid and entertaining live offering, but apart from being an awesome souvenir for those who were actually there to witness the gig in Japan and hardcore fans of Alcatrazz and Graham Bonnet in general, it is doubtful whether this will actually appeal to the hard rock masses out there. Live albums such as these have a tendency to go largely unnoticed, which is frustrating. Granted, this is hardly the right place to start if you are interested in checking Alcatrazz out as there are better and more interesting alternatives such as the "Live in Japan 1984" album, but "Parole Denied – Tokyo 2017" is nevertheless a worthwhile release. I certainly found it enjoyable and cool to immerse myself in. There is also an accompanying DVD to this release, but as usual Frontiers did not include that when mailing a promo version of the record our way, so I cannot comment on that aspect of "Parole Denied".