Silver Lining [Release date 31.07.20]
There’s still heavy traffic on the rock’n'roll road back from obscurity, with Alcatrazz among an elite few jockeying for position in the fast lane.
The band threatened to break through several times in the eighties, but inexplicably, never really made it. Their lineup was just bursting with talent… Graham Bonnet, ex Rainbow. Jimmy Waldo and Gary Shea, both ex New England, and, for a time, an upcoming guitarslinger named Yngwie Malmsteen.
Today, underrated fret melter, Joe Stump, has replaced the long gone guitar prodigy. He can shred with the best, but unselfishly adds distinctive, hi-speed colouring to every track.
There’s an end of an era feel to “Born Innocent”. Many of the songs are rooted in the past, full of bittersweet memories (‘Warth Lane’, ‘For Tony’), honest reflection (‘We Still Remember’) and the occasional polemic (‘Paper Flag’s criticism of the monarchy will resonate with republicans in the audience. And Bonnet’s cutting condemnation of heavy metal tropes on ‘Something I Am Missing’ will raise a few eyebrows).
It never gets maudlin. It’s fiery, targeted. It rocks and it rocks hard. Many of the tracks, like ‘Born Innocent’, the track, and ‘Finn McCool’ are fast and furious, with skillfully written choruses that reach out from the page and grab you by the short and curlies. Bonnet and Stump’s headlong charge through ‘Dirty Like The City’ is a real treat. Stump plays his axe like a flamethrower… it burns a charred path, but it’s carefully aimed, blazing brightly and moving fast through ‘London 1666′ and ‘Body Beautiful’.
Anyone who might think Bonnet’s voice is shot needs to think again. He powers through these 13 songs like he’s only just beginning. The songs are classical, lyrical, full of sentiment, and often very melodic. The arrangements and the production deliver them with heat treated precision and poise.
A fine “comeback” indeed. Hard Rock for grown ups. ****1/2
Review by Brian McGowan
David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 30 August 2020.
UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 8 September 2020.
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