Feature: Albums that time forgot … BLACKTHORNE – Afterlife

 BLACKTHORNE - Afterlife

Music For Nations (1993)

Graham Bonnet’s career started in the late 1960s with a conventional pop approach and early solo albums.  It was only in 1979 when he came to Ritchie Blackmore’s attention as a potential frontman of Rainbow (replacing original vocalist Ronnie James Dio) that he captured a much wider – and heavy rock – audience. Following Rainbow there was Michael Schenker’s band and then Alcatrazz.

Graham’s career has taken an upturn in recent years with several anthologies, reissues and touring.  The focus now seems to be on the latest configuration of Alcatrazz and they’ve just released a new – well received – album “hard rock for grown ups” as described by GRTR!’s Brian McGowan.

But back in 1993, following a time when Alcatrazz was on hiatus he and Jimmy Waldo formed Blackthorne.  The band also included Quiet Riot drummer Frankie Banali (died August 2020) and bassist Chuck Wright.

This is a much over-looked debut album, even it has to be said by Bonnet himself.  When I interviewed him in 2017 it seemed unlikely he would resurrect any of the band’s songs in his current live set, notwithstanding the Alcatrazz connection.

In his most recent outings towards the end of 2019, under the Alcatrazz moniker, the band did play the Blackthorne song “We Won’t Be Forgotten”.  However, this was almost certainly because there was the new anthology release of collected recordings (see below).

Part of the problem is that producer and band member Bob Kulick (who died May 2020) wanted Bonnet to sing in a different register which he was not comfortable with.  And, as I gathered in that interview, Bonnet wasn’t exactly complimentary about Kulick’s overall attitude.

Reviewing the 2016 reissue, I wrote: “There’s a  consistency and darkness to this album and some real gems, including the title track, ‘We Won’t Be Forgotten’ , ‘Over And Over’ and the quite wonderful  ‘Baby You’re The Blood’ (a co-write with Autograph guitarist Steve Plunket).  Others were brought in to assist on the sessions, including rock writer Steven Rosen and Bob Kulick’s brother Bruce on guitar.”  This reissue includes a couple of acoustic tracks recorded on a Japanese promotional visit (see video below).

The band made demos for an intended follow-up but they were reduced to a trio and Bonnet had returned to Australia and his family contemplating his next musical adventure.  These demos were collected on the album ‘Don’t Kill The Thrill’ (Cherry Red, 2016).

And, continuing with my review, “…viewed in the context of Bonnet’s varied output over the years and the pre-grunge years in particular, ‘Afterlife’ emerges as a heavy metal masterpiece. “

David Randall

In this remixed interview edit, recorded in August 2017, Graham Bonnet chats to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio about Blackthorne (4:22)

Worth investigating:
We Won’t Be Forgotten: The Blackthorne Anthology (Cherry Red, 2019)

Album review (Original review, 2016)
Album review (Born Innocent, 2020)
Album review (Afterlife/Don’t Kill The Thrill, 2021 reissue plus interview)

2020 Vision - Rock. Reviewed. Revisited.

Josh Taerk’s latest Sunday Session was streamed on Sunday 17 July.

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David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 GMT, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 31 July 2022.

UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020 and 2021 Finalist) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 GMT 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 2 August 2022.

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Power Plays w/c 8 August 2022 (Mon-Fri)
BORN LOST Take Time (Mouthpiece) (Revolver Records)
JAIME KYLE Driving With The Brakes On (Conquest Music)
SCARLET DORN Born To Suffer (SPV Recordings)
HOLDING ABSENCE Coffin (Sharptone Records)
TYRANNOSAURUS NEBULOUS Get Some (Echoed Past Records)
KROOKED TONGUE When The Beaches Bleed (indie)
SKYPILOT Knifed On The Beach (The Distortion Project)

Featured Albums w/c 8 August (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 LESSMAN VOSS Rock Is Our Religion (Atomic Fire Records)
12:00-13:00 H.E.A.T. Force Majeure (earMUSIC)
14:00-16:00 THE SLAMBOVIAN CIRCUS OF DREAMS A Very Unusual Head (indie)

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