"Born Innocent" (Silver Lining; 2020)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

It's mind-blowing to me that "Born Innocent" is the first Alcatrazz album we've reviewed here at Rough Edge in about 35 years. It's even more mind-blowing to discover that this is the first new studio album from the band in that same amount of time. "Born Innocent" is the band's first release since "Disturbing the Peace" (reviewed below).

Of course, so much has changed in the Alcatrazz world since 1985 there's hardly any point comparing "Born Innocent" to any other Alcatrazz release. But a lot has stayed the same as well. Original band members Graham Bonnet, Jimmy Waldo, and Gary Shea are back in the band, joining new guitarist Joe Stump and new drummer Mark Benquechea. (By the way, also appearing on various tracks throughout the album are Chris Impellitteri, the late great Bob Kulick, Jeff Waters and Nozomu Wakai).

I haven't gone back and listened to "Disturbing the Peace" (although, out of curiosity, I've got it cued up in my player to re-visit in the next few days) but, based on the esteemed Jeff Rogers' review of "Disturbing the Peace," "Born Innocent" is an improvement.

"Born Innocent" is 13 hard-rock tracks that simply deliver the goods. The guitars are loud and riffy, the leads tight and sharp. The bass and drums drive each song along like a diesel engine. And Graham Bonnet, who co-founded the band with Shea and Waldo, sounds strong and vibrant. His unique lyrics add another layer to each song (especially on tracks like "Polar Bear" and "Finn McCool").

My favorite tracks were the epic "Something That I Am Missing" with its big all-around sound, the chunky "Body Beautiful" with its tattooed grandmother (more great lyrics) and the soulful "Warth Lane," during which Bonnet displays an emotional level I don't think I've hear from the singer before. But there isn't a bad song on the album, including the only non-metal track, the closing "For Tony," with its Beatles-esque sound and another emotional performance from Bonnet.

Bottom line is that after all these years, Alcatrazz has delivered a solid album that isn't just an attempt to capitalize on the brand. "Born Innocent" earns its place in the Alcatrazz discography. Not sure the same can be said about "Disturbing the Peace" but we'll find out in a day or so.

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"Disturbing the Peace" (Capitol; 1985)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

Graham Bonnet has a knack for finding great guitar players, making them shine and then somehow letting them go. Heís sung for many talented musicians -- I guess he just lacks the qualities to keep them in his company. Some singers would have loved to have had his pipes twenty five years ago but, as time fades, so do the projects that he was involved in. ďDisturbing The PeaceĒ is one that has all but faded away long ago. 

Even Steve Vai, who played on this vinyl Titanic, couldnít save it. After a few spins it starts to sound like the fallen branches from Vaiís career, e.g. his stint with DLR, Whitesnake and his debut solo disc.

Grahamís voice sounds a bit campy after awhile and at times is almost goofy. He and Vai share writing credits and Iím sure Vai would like to take an eraser to some of this stuff. It's his discography and I've never heard him wax about how much fun this project was, anyway.

The songs here are a time capsule of 1985 and since metal was dawning at that time a trip (and fall!) down memory lane probably isnít necessary. If you are a rabid fan for anything Vai then this disc probably has your fingerprints on it already. If you value Bonnetís contribution to metal then pick it up for that reason only.

No cuts beg to be listened to more than once, so Iíll let you decide if you want to pursue this release or not.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright © 2020 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.