without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
After Steve Vai left Alcatrazz, he was replaced by some nobody by the name of Danny Johnson, who was only known for having a brief stint with Alice Cooper. With him, they came up with what is possibly the worst album the band has ever made, and that's the nicest way of putting it! It's totally cheesy, but it's the rotten kind of cheese that is hazardous to your health if consumed. Gone is any sort of dignity that anybody would have for Alcatrazz, and even their diehard fans would be disgusted.
Without more experienced guitarists like Ygwie J. Malmsteen and Steve Vai to shred away, we get riffs that are generally weak and pathetic. Danny Johnson's riffs are pretty basic in nature cos they're mostly dependent on bluesy pentatonic scales. One example of this kind of riff is in "It's My Life", which sounds exactly like every blues song you've ever heard. This makes them incredibly unskilled, but unskilled riffs were all that The Outfield needed in order to sell records. Alcatrazz tried the same trick they did, but the obviously failed. And the solos? Well, they're not much better, either. All you need to hear is his solo in "Blue Boar", and you'll get the idea on how inexperienced Johnson sounds when he plays. He doesn't play really fast like his predecessors, and that means no sweep picking and no insanely speedy arpeggios. All we get for the solo of "Blue Boar" is little melody, and that's pretty much it. Where's the shredding in that? Oh, there's a little bit of sweep picking to be found on some parts of the album, but they're brief, as if Johnson felt that sweep picking was a little too hard for him (wimp!).
Possibly the main reason as to why we get little to no oomph on the guitar playing is that Alcatrazz lets the synthesizers do the talking. It's obviously not a good sign if there's more synthesizers than guitars, cos that means that the band wants be super-famous with stadium gigs. Because of this, we get such asinine abominations such as "Undercover" and "Ohayo Tokyo". The latter, in particular is a horrid, pop-like song in which the synthesizers create a peppy and upbeat sound. Sure, it's Alcatrazz, but still, it's stupider than anything you'd think they'd create! Don't expect "Double Man" to be an improvement of the music, either. While the guitar can be heard more easily, you just can't seem to overlook the synthesizers. They generate a dumb hook that apparently is supposed to be eerie and mysterious, but ends up sounding incredibly awkward. Judging by the lyrics, the song is about a doppelganger or something, but when listening to the synthesizers, you'd think it's actually about UFOs!
The guitar isn't the only thing to be watered down on this album, the time signatures suffer as well. While "Disturbing the Peace" was truly a bad album, at least it had a couple of songs on there that had fast tempos, like "God Blessed Video". Any trace of speedy tempos on "Dangerous Games"? Nope, none. Absolutely none. Not one single song that's fast-paced, eliminating any hope of this album sounding at least better than the preceding one. The closest we get to having a faster song is "No Imagination", and by speed metal standards, that's incredibly slow. Speaking of slow, there's the band's cover of the Marbles song, "Only One Woman", and man, is it plodding! Not only that, but it's also pretty weepy and syrupy, too. That's cos it's a ballad, something that Alcatrazz barely looked into throughout their career.
Don't even get me started on the band's choice of lyrics. They're so goofy and insipid, that they're an insult to the intelligence of anybody that dares to listen. Perhaps the worst of the lyrics are in "Ohayo Tokyo", which contains; "sons of the samurai wait at the terminal, aim their cameras and fire". Okay, not only is that "sons of the samurai" line gut-wrenchingly bad on its own, but the comparison of cameras to guns in the lyrics will eat away your sanity like a parasitic worm. If you even had enough courage to go through the entire album, the last track is "Night of the Shooting Star", a song that has no guitars, only Graham Bonnet's voice and backing vocals. Bonnet sings, "this night is forever (twice), this is forever, the sight is mine". How unimaginitive and pretentious. Oh, and there's the backing vocals singing "oohs" and "aahs", only adding to the song sounding like a rejected barbershop quartet number. Thankfully, though, it's mercifully short, only clocking in at one minute.
That last minute, though, is all you'd need to curl up in a fetal position and cry knowing that you wasted precious money on this pile of elephant dung. By releasing "Dangerous Games", Alcatrazz had fizzled out like a dying star in outer space, and a short time later, they split up. Unsurprising, seeing as though this album would make a better cake pan than a record to listen to. It's beyond painful, and should be avoided at all costs for the sake of preserving your sanity. If you want Alcatrazz, you'd be better off with the album that's got Yngwie on it.
Ah, the last Alcatrazz album. It took me over three years to secure myself a copy of this CD, as it's one of the rarest albums I've ever sought for (With Alcatrazz's "Live Sentence" album also being close to near impossible to find on disc). Though I don't know if it's really worth the money I paid for, might as well fill up the collection right?
Well, let's get to the review. Compared to Alcatrazz's first two albums, this is complete shit, and totally irrelevant. The first album having traditional metal with a neo-classical twist, the next being slightly more melodic but just as brilliant, but this.... is completely 80's pop rock! Well, at least for the most part. But the album has SO many things going for it!
The vocals are obviously brilliant, it's Graham Bonnet for gods sake! His performance is about the ONLY reason why I gave the album such a high rating. He never sounds dull or let's up in the range department, and you can tell in each song he's giving it 110%. Take a listen to the track "Double Man" for example, easily one of the best tracks on the album. He gives it that classic Alcatrazz sound that is mostly missing from the album. A couple other good vocal tracks are "Ohayo Tokyo", (especially in the chorus), and the infectious chorus melody of "Blue Boar". Probably the best tracks on the whole album.
The guitar is lame as fuck, but what could they do? First it was Yngwie, then Vai, how could lightning strike three times? So in comes Danny Johnson, who came from Alice Cooper, I believe. Through most of the album all he does is basic rock riffs and a solo here and there, nothing special, especially compared to what was offered on the first two albums. The only time he really "shines", if you can call it that, is on the track "Double Man", which is the only true heavy metal song on the album. At the end of the song, there are some pretty cool shred licks he pulls off, and with Bonnet in the back, it makes for a good listen. But that's about all he's good for, that one damn song.
A lot of the album is comprised of ballads. First being "Only One Woman", which is a cover of an old 60's "Marbles" song (Which Bonnet also fronted). Great vocals, but it wasn't necessary at all. If they replaced this track with a hard rocker, the album would have benefited much from it. "Witchwood" is another ballad, but it's fucking great. It's quite poppy, but not in that overbearingly "sell out" way (like the way the Tygers of Pan Tang went with that shit fest "The Cage"). Their are some GREAT vocals by Bonnet, and some really atmospheric keyboards and guitars. It has a shit lead of course, but the vocals make it great.
The rockers on the album, are quite dull. "It's My Life" is a foot stomper, but those stupid keyboards kind of ruin it. "Undercover" is gay as hell, with a stupid as fuck chorus. Probably the worst track on the album, with no benefiting factors. "That Ain't Nothin'" is ok, it sounds a lot like "It's My Life", but decent enough. Too much keyboards though! "No Imagination" is decent as wll, but still not up to Alcatrazz's usually brilliant standards. "Ohayo Tokyo" is actually pretty awesome, it sounds like it could of been on Disturbing the Peace. Great chorus too! The title track is typical 80's pop rock, nothing too special, but it has a nice solo. "Blue Boar" rocks, with Graham in top form, with a great melodic chorus. "Double Man" as mentioned, kicks ass, and "Night of the Shooting Star" is some 50's inspired doo-wop jingle...what the fuck? Anyways, its pretty stupid, and definitely not necessary.
So, overall, the album is nowhere near the previous two, but it has its moments. It may be really poppy, but it's done RIGHT. Great melodies and excellent vocals save this album from joining "The Cage" in the shit pile, but it could have been much better, much MUCH better.
Alcatrazz is known primarily for two reasons: Yngwie Malmsteen and Steve Vai. Each of these men played on one Alcatrazz release (No Parole From Rock And Roll and Disturbing The Peace, respectively) and then went on to become a mega-successful solo artist. But lightning rarely strikes twice, and when it does, it virtually never happens a third time. Enter Alcatrazz’s third attempt at a lightning bolt: Danny Johnson.
Ever heard of Danny Johnson? Most people haven’t, and there’s a reason for that: he isn’t very good. And while this band’s first two albums showcased their guitar players, this one chooses to focus more on keyboards and bass, keeping this player (who they must have known just wasn’t that good) off in the background. Banal tracks like “Undercover,” for example, go absolutely nowhere because Johnson’s ability is so limited that the band is relegated to inane 80’s pop territory led by Jimmy Waldo’s keyboards. “Blue Boar” starts off promisingly but, again, is unable to capitalize on potential because of the empty, poppy sound the band takes on.
The band’s vehicle only seems to go two speeds here: slow and slower. While past albums featured tracks like “Jet To Jet” and “God Blessed Video,” this one crawls along like a dying slug making no attempt to speed up whatsoever. The band seems relatively content going at a snail’s pace the entire time, but there is no energy whatsoever in this album, which makes it very difficult to listen to in one sitting. Whether the band was attempting to have commercial success or simply compensate for its new lack of talent is unclear, but either way it does not make for a very compelling album.
The bland production and weak songwriting really only give rise to two decent tracks, “Ohayo Tokyo,” and the title track, and even those are somewhat subpar—frustrating, in fact, because they could have been downright excellent if simply done correctly. The rest are essentially throwaways, and sad reminders of Alcatrazz’s forgotten past successes. The guitars are buried and the keyboards are not nearly enough to make this listenable. Graham Bonnet does sound as good as ever, but good singing can only take you so far when the songs you’re singing are inane. The rest of the band simply sounds tired and lethargic, and by the end of the album, it sounds as if Bonnet has joined them in their lethargy.
In short, this album is too hard to find for it to be worth seeking out. For the average metal fan, this album should be a nonentity, having more in common with 80s pop (and terrible 80s pop at that) than anything having to do with metal. Alcatrazz’s first two albums are representative of their true abilities, and it’s unfortunate that they made this one before mercifully breaking up for over 20 years.