34 years had been nothing more and nothing less Graham Bonnet without having his Alcatrazz studied. Bonnet has not only put his voice at the service of great guitarists such as Blackmore or Schenker, – “Assault Attack” is one of my fetish albums – also in Alcatrazz he managed to make military two other guitarists who with different destinies today achieved fame and notoriety for their playing, Yngwie Malmsteen and Steve Vai. Although Bonnet had edited live material with his band – after all, Alcatrazz is Bonnet – now he finally presents a series of new songs for the enjoyment of those of us who love hard rock. Together with Jimmy Waldo and Gary Shea, companions of the vocalist’s adventures, we find ourselves completing the line-up to drummer Mark Benquechea and in the complicated situation of playing guitar in a band where said position has always been in very high consideration, the chosen one is Joe Stump, a guitarist with a long career and experience, well known in the world of hard rock for his solo albums and a style close to that of Yngwie, which in principle augurs a closer relationship to his first two albums – those of Alcatrazz – rather than to third, “Dangerous games” which, although I recognize that it is an album that I personally always liked, it is evident that it is on a lower level than “Disturbing the peace” and “No parole from rock and roll”. What are we going to find in this “Born innocent”?
Well, since the recording starts with the song that gives it its name, the satisfaction is complete when listening to that guitar and Bonnet’s way of singing that takes us quickly to the early eighties recalling the classic sound of a time of glory. Another old friend of Bonnet’s, Chris Impelliteri appears on the song. “Polar bear” has another great Blackmore / Malmsteen guitar starter with a great Bonnet vocal performance and well-measured power that doesn’t lead to truce. “Finn McCool”, in which guitarist Nozomu Wakai collaborates, boasts a direct cut with a well-planned chorus and an enormous guitar display, although it is a little below the two previous songs. But be careful, not because it is not a good song, but because the start of the album is brutal. “We still remember” is at the level of the first two songs. Bonnet’s singing takes you back to his eighties recordings and Stump’s work – throughout the album – is the icing on the cake. Those keyboards that take you straight to the chorus, wonderful.
“London 1666” puts Bonnet’s throat to the limit, who comes out triumphant while Stump accelerates the song with a strong and aggressive guitar that can recall the best times of Yngwie Malmsteen. “Dirty like the city” is composed by Steve Vai. Still it does not reach the level of the songs that preceded it despite the good solo of Stump and the play of melodies of Bonnet. I recover my feelings with “I am the king, composed by the recently deceased – May – Bob Kulick, who also put his guitar at the service of the album. Again Bonnet perfectly combining aggressiveness with melody and that background of classic hard accompanying it. “Something that I am missing” is another of the jewels of this album. A full band – and plethoric – and a Bonnet that is not far behind in a very complicated interpretation of which it comes out very well. “Paper flags” features another deluxe collaboration, riff maker Jeff Waters. Preponderance of the keyboards in the song. “The wound is open” is pure and furious hard rock, the kind that accompany you devouring kilometers on the road.
In “Body beautiful” Joe Stump is disheveled – and it is not that he is tied up throughout the album far from it – showing that Graham Bonnet when he sets his eye on a guitarist is for something. “Warth lane” puts those Arabic sounds so well known in classic hard rock in our faces in a long song with epic airs. The album closes with “For Tony” with a disconcerting beginning in the tone of a musical, and that makes me out of tune within this fabulous hard rock album that Graham Bonnet has marked to the delight of many. Possibly many objections can be put to him – or perhaps not so many – and look for the cat the feet that you want, but this “Born innocent” is not a simple nostalgic exercise far from it, but a more than acceptable and worthy album, that I am sure that I will not be the only one who is going to make him enjoy good. Maybe it’s because I stopped looking for the Holy Grail a long time ago and focused on enjoying music and because I don’t pretend that my opinion is more than that, a way of understanding music that makes me enjoy. I’m going to put it back on, and I’ve already lost count these last couple of months.