Frontiers [Release date 13.07.18]
One of the pleasing things in rock over the past few years is the rejuvenation of Graham Bonnet. Welcomed back to the Michael Schenker multi-vocalist fest, and with a handful of tours and festivals under his belt in his own right, Bonnet has revived his claim to be one of rock’s more engaging frontmen, and his voice has actually got better.
In earlier despatches GRTR! reviewers bemoaned the slightly “iffy” vocal delivery and the truncated sets, but when we saw him in July 2017 he was on rude good form and with a setlist and show that many artists (of a similar vintage) would be hard pressed to replicate.
Part of this “rejuvenation” is having a more settled band and this is Bonnet’s second album with the likes of partner Beth-Ami and old sparring partner Jimmy Waldo. With drummer Mark Benquechea also providing rock solid continuity it is only Joey Tafolla that is now missing from the current line-up although he was present for this recording. (He’s replaced by Kurt James who only features on one track, ‘Livin’ With Suspicion’).
Bonnet’s vocal delivery is so powerful that he frankly has to be in good shape and if there are any doubters a quick listen to the opening title track will allay any fears.
The album ranges from the frenetic, almost power, metal (‘Meanwhile…’, ‘Man On The Corner’, ‘America…Where Have You Gone’, ‘Past Lives’) to the more accessible such as ‘Livin’ With Suspicion’ (written by the venerable Russ Ballard who also wrote Bonnet’s seventies calling card ‘Since You Been Gone’) and ‘Incest Outcast U.S.A.’ which also allows Bonnet some social comment.
A cover of ‘We Don’t Need Another Hero’ is undoubtedly going to be a live highlight and fits Bonnet like a glove. And, like his recent setlists, the energy quotient doesn’t really let up although ‘The Crying Chair’ does break this mould and refreshingly so.
The powerful lungs have to be matched by a similarly powerful band and here Tafolla in particular delivers, providing just the right amount of shred to edge the album away from the lighter weight.
The album clocks in at over one hour in playing time and retains a strong consistency. The bonus DVD recorded for Daryl Hall’s webcast in early 2018 is mere icing on the cake to flesh out a great value package.
It is clear Bonnet has put his heart and soul into this latest offering – the lyrics also. I put it down to something in his cocoa, but – whatever – we should all be grateful for that. ****
Review by David Randall
David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.
UK tour dates
08.08.18 GLASGOW G2
09.08.18 ABERDEEN TheAssembly
10.08.18 EDINBURGH Bannermans
11.08.18 LOUTH TownHall
12.08.18 NEWCASTLE Trillians
14.08.18 MANCHESTER Rebellion
15.08.18 HULL O’Rileys
16.08.18 STOKE Eleven
17.08.18 BELFAST Limelight
18.08.18 DUBLIN Button Factory
19.08.18 PONTYPRIDD Muni Arts Centre
21.08.18 BILSTON Robin2
22.08.18 LONDON Underworld
23.08.18 BLACKPOOL Waterloo Music Bar
24.08.18 BUCKLEY Tivoli
25.08.18 NEWARK Stonedeaf Festival
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.
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 22 September 2020.
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