Hear No Evil Recordings/Cherry Red [Release dates March-May 2016]
The Graham Bonnet “backstory” before his tenure with Rainbow is highlighted by these reissues. It was clearly evident in 1979 that Bonnet came from the pop mainstream – coming to wider attention as a member of pop duo The Marbles in 1968. If nothing else his slick, Brylcreemed, appearance defied the heavy rock he espoused with Ritchie’s men.
For a time Bonnet made that role his own and stamped his mark on the classics ‘All Night Long’ and ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’ but a subsequent brief tenure with Michael Schenker and Yngwie/Alcatrazz never really captured the popular imagination.
Back Row In The Stalls should have been released in 1974 but the label DJM backed out and it has remained mothballed ever since. You can hear why. Again Bonnet was surrounded by stellar musicians including Rick Wakeman and Mike Moran but the fact that this was all his own composition speaks volumes and suggests why the subsequent solo albums were full of covers.
BRITS sounds like it was made on a shoestring budget in 1965 and this new reissue – just to heap misery on madness – adds some early 1970s singles and two tracks featuring Adrienne Posta, Bonnet’s then wife and with whom he appeared in the 1975 film ‘Three For All’, including the tellingly titled ‘Dog Song’. *
1977′s solo album Graham Bonnet is really very average and is essentially cover versions. There is nothing here to interest Rainbow fans other than historical precedent. The inconsistent mix of soul, cod-rock, and even country suggests some desperation in the song selection department.
Produced by Pip Williams (The Sweet, Mud, Status Quo) and featuring such luminaries as Whitesnake’s Micky Moody who, frankly, can’t redeem it. **
Similarly, the following year’s No Bad Habits has an almost complete lack of original material. If anything, this album is more trite than its predecessor.
This 2-CD reissue is bolstered by several bonus tracks including single edits and demos including the previously unavailable extended version of ‘Warm Ride’, written by the Bee Gees. **
Could 1981′s Line-Up (featuring Rainbow and later MSG colleague Cozy Powell, Micky Moody, and Jon Lord) give us the Graham Bonnet solo album we always craved? Er, in a word, no. The hit single ‘Night Games’ overshadows this album as much as it does the liner note for which it takes up at least half the word count.
This is an album of its time and there again seems to be paucity of creative ideas with several covers including ‘Be My Baby’, Russ Ballard’s ‘Liar’ and the Ballard original ‘SOS’ which unfortunately sounds like Starship’s ‘Jane’. A handful of B-sides and single edits are added as bonus tracks. ***
If nothing else, these reissues – as ever, expanded with Malcolm Dome’s ever-charitable liner notes – testify that Bonnet made a career-defying leap from soul/pop crooner to Rainbow rocker. But it might also underline that – aside from Rainbow – he’s never really got his teeth into decent material.
Review by David Randall
David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.
Album review (Blackthorne, with Bob Kulick)
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 20 September 2020.
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