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Flawed, Yet Fabulous - 85%

gunnarvl, April 19th, 2006

Released within months of their incredible debut "No Parole from Rock 'N Roll" in 1984, "Live Sentence" was the first opportunity for many to hear Yngwie Malmsteen play live. His work on this album is nothing short of amazing. Malmsteen is really the star of the show throughout this album, way up in the mix, all over the place, soloing like crazy and given the time to really show his chops. His studio version of "Evil Eye" would appear a few months later on his debut solo album, but here it is performed live with the Japanese fans going berserk throughout.

Aside from their debut album, Alcatrazz did not have much material. Four tunes from "No Parole" made it onto "Live Sentence", along with two Yngwie solos, the aforementioned "Evil Eye" along with "Coming Bach". Graham Bonnet has been a star in Japan for a long time and "Night Games" from a Bonnet solo album entitled "Lineup" is included here as well and it is a decent song. Also included are two Rainbow songs harking back to Bonnet's one album tenure in that band, "All Night Long", and the Russ Ballard penned "Since You've been Gone". What is mind boggling is how many times Graham Bonnet has recorded this Russ Ballard song. Besides the original version on Rainbow's "Down To Earth", you can find him singing it on this live Alcatrazz CD, then again on the second Impellitteri studio CD, "Stand in Line" and then unbelievably again on the Blackthorn "Afterlife" CD.

Graham Bonnet is much more of a studio singer then a live performer. He shines brilliantly on so many studio recordings and his sheer vocal power is mind blowing. But his weakness as a live performer singing this type of material is so evident on "Live Sentence". Not only does he constantly sing out of key, but his vocals lack any emotion and his raps to the audience sometimes are downright embarassing. I've seen this concert on video and it is almost funny to see this skinny Englishman with short hair and glasses wearing a pink suit, singing "Too Young To Die Too Drunk To Live", horribly out of key, while jumping up and down, trying to be cool. I am surprised that this album was released to the public without Bonnet re-doing many of his vocal tracks. That being said, this album stayed on my turntable for months when it came out and I still listen to it today for the wonderful live playing of Yngwie Malmsteen and for the awesome version of "Kree Nakoorie". Flawed yes, for the reasons stated above, but still a worthy slab of fabulous live guitar shredding.