Initially trained as a pianist, Tony MacAlpine graduated to the electric guitar with an ambition to fuse rock and classical influences into something that would have widespread appeal. Teaming up with ex-Journey drummer Steve Smith and ex-David Lee Roth bassist Billy Sheehan, he recorded Edge Of Insanity, an album which combined rock, classical, jazz and fusion instrumentals. The album was characterised by MacAlpine's ability to improvise and imbue emotion into his songs, even when played at breakneck speed.
He next formed a straightforward rock band, signing up Tommy Aldridge (drums), Rudi Sarzo (bass) and Rob Rock (vocals) to record Project Driver under the M.A.R.S. alias. The band split soon after the release and MacAlpine returned to solo status, forming his own Squawk label.
In 1987, he released one of his most popular instrumental albums, Maximum Security. The album had all of the speed and feeling of Edge of Insanity except with even stronger melodies and a higher standard of musicianship. It is quite possibly his best album ever and features Deen Castronovo and Atma Anur on drums, with MacAlpine handling the guitars, keyboards and bass.
1990 saw the release of Eyes Of The World (on Vertigo Records). The album featured Alan Schorn on lead vocals, Mark Robertson on keyboards, Billy Carmassi on drums and Mike Jacques on drums. The band was called MacAlpine and the music they played was highly polished melodic rock, punctuated by fluid but economical guitar breaks.
In 1992 MacAlpine returned to instrumental music with Freedom to Fly which featured the guitarist's compositional talent and penchant for dramatic melodies. 1993 saw the release of yet another instrumental CD (once again on Shrapnel) called Madness. This time the music took a more jazzy approach though the tunes retained their melodic roots. In 1994 Tony returned with a more hard-rocking, neo-classical instrumental album called Premonition.
In 1995 he released Evolution which took Premonition's neo-classical approach but added more variety, including a beautiful instrumental ballad called "Time Table". 1996 marked the release of Violent Machine; and in 1997 he released his first live CD, Live Insanity, an exciting collection of his best loved tracks.
Tony MacAlpine is an amazing musician. He is equally talented as a guitarist and a keyboard player (he has played the former on albums by the likes of Joey Tafolla and Vinnie Moore). His intrinsic sense of melody and phrasing make him one of the best modern guitar players of the last 2 decades.
Recommended listening (for new fans):
-Edge of Insanity
-Freedom to Fly