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After the departure of guitar virtuoso / unpronounceable show-off Yngwie J. Malmsteen, Alcatrazz filled the space with rising star Steve Vai for one album only, before he went on to better (and in some cases, surprisingly worse) things. On the surface, Alcatrazz seemed like any other Los Angeles heavy metal band of the mid-80s, capitalising on the success of the region's unaffectionately termed "hair metal" before promptly disappearing as soon as everyone took a second out from partying and biking hard and realised how ridiculous the whole thing was, and that they would much rather move to Seattle and listen to depressed people in jumpers singing about how rubbish it all is. That's how it seemed on the surface, but digging deeper you realise something shocking; there is nothing down there.
This band's only claim to superiority over the hordes of local imitators - many that were more successful, others less so - was being blessed with supreme guitar talent, first with Malmsteen and here with Vai, but as was so remarkably demonstrated by the outrageously godawful Nitro, it's not enough to possess the most technically proficient guitarist in the world if his creative horizons only go as far as providing riffs and overcomplicated solos from an X-shaped guitar to songs about girls and Budweiser. Thankfully, the music of Alcatrazz is grounded a little more in reality than Nitro's, and Vai and his bandmates concentrate on delivering simple, catchy rock tunes to their easily satisfied audience.
The lyrical subject matter is as predictable as the music, only veering outside of the rock and roll lifestyle for a failed attempt at a historical epic in the style of bands like Iron Maiden. The band is most comfortable and successful when treading the Motörhead territory of sex and booze, but attempts at a more emotional connection mainly fail due to the difficulty of taking this music and image seriously. 'Will You Be Home Tonight' is the longest and slowest song, a story of a young man who lives for his bike that is rooted in a disappointingly parental message of road safety awareness - this isn't the sort of escapism I look for in stupid hair metal, making straightforward songs like 'Stripper' far more appealing. Vocals are handled reasonably well by Graham Bonnet, who mostly impresses with his dedication above and beyond in the first song, but all too soon falls back on the clichés of the high-pitched hair metal yell, and alternating between an unconvincing gruff vocal style in the more ballsy songs and an equally unconvincing mournful tone in those approaching ballads.
1. God Blessed Video
3. Will You Be Home Tonight
4. Wire and Wood
5. Desert Diamond
7. Painted Lover
8. Lighter Shade of Green
9. Sons and Lovers
11. Breaking the Heart of the City
As yet another hair metal / 80s hard rock album among many, the finest accolade these songs can achieve is to be distinctly average, while the worst are merely indistinctly poor, but at least aren't completely awful. Vai gets a brief guitar solo track for the pointlessly titled 'Lighter Shade of Green' that only sees him twiddle around a bit and is a poor competitor to Van Halen's definitive 'Eruption,' and his contributions to the rest of the album are mostly restrained to the point that he might as well be anyone.
The stand-out tracks are fun opener 'God Blessed Video,' a tirade against big-selling sell-out bands recording extravagant music videos which "crotch shots for twelve-year-old hopefuls" that I still can't help feeling is motivated more out of jealousy than anything else, and 'Wire and Wood' that manages to sound sufficiently angry and energetic for a change. The aforementioned 'Stripper' is another cool one, but spoiled by distracting keyboard tinges that are far more prominent in the weaker songs (uncoincidentally), and collapses into a bizarre, unintentional self-parody at the end when Bonnet's heartfelt response to the eponymous stripper's dialogue seems to immediately jump from fear to lust ("take your clothes off, babbay!" God).
The rest of the album falls below the line of good taste (well, further below), and offers nothing that can't be heard elsewhere in forms exactly the same or superior. 'Mercy' is inoffensive aside from the vocals, but too dull and plodding to stand out, and the not-at-all-epic 'Desert Diamond' is even more tedious and repetitive, despite an admirable but failed attempt to create a bombastic chorus by placing high wails against low murmurs. 'Will You Be Home Tonight' threatens to be a power ballad before launching into something equally unadventurous and oozing with bad 80s pop rock keyboards from Jimmy Waldo, and this is also the case for 'Skyfire.' 'Painted Lover' and 'Sons and Lovers' are both fairly standard but uninspired and thus pointless hard rock songs, though the second is pleasant enough in a commercial sort of way, while the finale goes for a strange, National Anthemic style in comparing Britain to the United States. It also features more rubbish keyboards.
Long believed deceased, Alcatrazz has apparently been reincarnated in two conflicting forms by former members this year, creating a legal feud over which group should be permitted to continue this brand of tedious, outdated glam metal that should never have been permitted to exist in the first place. The band was never one of the worst offenders by any means, remaining fairly low profile and promoting some genuine musical talent before each guitarists sodded off in due course, but 'Disturbing the Peace' is a below average release of 80s rock / metal, which disappoints even in terms of the band's attitude. While their contemporaries were being arrested for sexual assault and drug abuse, the most depraved that Alcatrazz could manage was to contemplate the possibility of annoying their neighbours by playing music slightly too loud in the early evening.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 God Blessed Video
2 Mercy Mercy Mercy
3 Will You Be Home Tonight
4 Wire And Wood
5 Desert Diamond
7 Painted Lover
8 Lighter Shade Of Green
9 Sons And Lovers
10 Sky Fire
11 Breaking The Heart Of The City