ALCATRAZ – Vampire State Building

Alcatraz are a German jazz-rock quintet, and as I believe that the Germans excel at this kind of music then this album was a must have. ‘Simple Headphone Mind’ does not let me down either, opening with a simple piano and flute motif over a suitably jazzy backing, but the rock element soon appears with some great guitar from Klaus Holst. The flute re-appears, along with a smattering of sax and some more guitar, to make this twelve minute track the highlight of the album. After such a spectacular opener the rest of the album could easily be a disappointment, but I am pleased to say that on the whole the rest of the tracks live up to this promise. ‘Your Chance Of A Lifetime’ is one of three shorter tracks, and the only one with a vocal, and these briefer pieces also work very well. Because of the vocal on here the jazz element is toned down, and the result is a bluesy ballad featuring some effective fuzz guitar. ‘Where The Wild Things Are’ is an up-tempo guitar and sax piece which fades away just as it is getting interesting, while the thirteen minute title track was mostly improvised, and is the only track which does not come across as totally successful. The charmingly titled ‘Piss Off’, however, ends the album in robust style with some ear-shattering guitar-work. This is out on CD with a couple of bonus tracks, of which ‘Change Will Come’ is well worth hearing. For anyone into German progressive jazz-rock (and no-one does it better) then this album is crying out to be heard.