Graham Bonnet – Solo Albums 1974-1992 (2020)

Posted by Green on November 27, 2020
in rock

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Although the Skegness born Graham Bonnet is probably best known for the melodic hard rock he fronted in the 1980s with Ritchie’s Blackmore Rainbow, The Michael Schenker Group, and his own band, Alcatrazz, his musical odyssey started with the duo The Marbles in 1968. Despite top ten success, Graham’s undeniable talents languished in relative obscurity until he appeared as frontman with the fictitious band Billy Beethoven in the 1975 cinematic romp, “Three Of A Kind”, co-starring his then wife, Adrienne Posta. This largely forgotten piece of cinematic history did lead to Graham recording what was meant to be his debut solo outing for DJM Records, “Back Row In The Stalls”. Although this album was thought long lost, thankfully a cassette taken from the master tape was found, and transferred for release by HNE. Subsequently, the original production master was found, allowing a much superior remaster, released here for the very first time. Although the more pop orientated material may be a surprise to fans of the man that brought us ‘Lost In Hollywood’ and ‘Eyes Of the World’, it certainly paved the way for his debut solo LP proper, 1977’s “Graham Bonnet”. What makes this rare collection an extra treat is the inclusion of seven bonus tracks: six of which are taken from the A and B-Sides of the singles ‘Whisper In The Night’ b/w ‘Rare Specimen’ from 1972, ‘Trying To Say Goodbye’ b/w ‘Castles In The Air’ from 1973 and a very rare 1973 single from Graham’s then wife, the actress Adrienne Posta, ‘Dog Song’ b/w ‘Express Yourself’ from 1973; both featuring Graham.


Graham’s style was originally geared more towards pop and R&B orientated music, recording a number of obscure, but now highly collectable 45s in the early 1970s, before releasing his eponymous titled debut in 1977 for Ringo Records. Kicking off with Bob Dylan’s ‘It’s All over Now, Baby Blue’, 1977’s “Graham Bonnet” certainly draws upon some classic songwriters, with Goffin and King’s ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow?’, a track briefly resurrected by Rainbow at the 1980 Monsters of Rock, Al Green’s ‘Tired Of Being Alone’ and ‘Goodnight And Good Morning’, originally from Hall & Oates’ “Whole Oats” LP. Produced by Pip Williams and engineered by John Eden, both of whom are probably best known for their work with Status Quo, “Graham Bonnet” is augmented by no less than seven bonus tracks, including ‘Heroes On My Picture Wall’, the B-Side of ‘It’s All over Now, Baby Blue’.


Wasting no time at all, his debut was followed up in 1978 by “No Bad Habits”, again produced by Pip Williams. Featuring the singles ‘Can’t Complain’ and a cover of the Bee Gee’s ‘Warm Ride’, the bonus tracks include ‘10/12 Observation’, the B-Side of ‘Warm Ride’, as well as a “disco” version of the track ‘Warm Ride’. The following year, Graham would be enlisted to join Ritchie Blackmore, Roger Glover, Don Airey and Cozy Powell in Rainbow, and that band’s commercial breakthrough album, “Down To Earth”. “Graham Bonnet” and “No Bad Habits” remain fitting testimonials to this singular artist’s progress as a singer and musician.


Graham Bonnet enjoyed a solo career throughout the 1970s, but truly made his mark with Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow in 1979. The album “Down To Earth” was propelled to global success by the hit singles ‘All Night Long’ and ‘Since You Been Gone’, but would be the sole studio record to feature Bonnet, who would make the inaugural Monsters Of Rock festival at Castle Donington in 1980 his final Rainbow show. Signing to Vertigo Records, the release of “Line Up” in 1981 was preceded by the Top 10 hit single ‘Night Games’. Produced by John Eden, famed for his work with Status Quo, plus Quo’s Francis Rossi, a band was assembled around Whitesnake’s Jon Lord on keyboards and Mick Moody on guitar, former Rainbow and future Whitesnake drummer Cozy Powell, then drumming with Michael Schenker, as well as guest spots from Quo’s Andy Bown, Rick Partfitt and Francis Rossi, who co-produced two of the album’s tracks. Although continuing in the melodic hard rock vein of Rainbow, Bonnet still brought his R&B roots to the record, and draws on material from some classic songwriters, such as Russ Ballard (‘S.O.S.’ and ‘Liar’), The Kinks’ Ray Davies (‘Set Me Free’), Chuck Berry (‘Anthony Boy’) and The Ronettes’ ‘Be My Baby’. Bob Young and Micky Moody also contribute three songs to the set. This disc features four bonus tracks, including two non-album B-sides, making this is the definitive version of this melodic rock classic.


1991’s “Here Comes The Night” saw Graham move far away from his more rock orientated path to take a more pop flavoured approach, including covers of Ray Davies ‘I Go To Sleep’, Denny Laine’s ‘Eyes Of A Child’, Leiber & Stoller’s ‘Don’t’ and James Brown’s ‘I’ll Go Crazy’. “Here Comes The Night” now includes four bonus instrumental demos; ‘Gone In A Minute’, ‘ A Hole In My Soul’, ‘Please Call Me’ and ‘Greenwich Meantime’.


Featuring newly remastered audio, “Reel To Real: The Archives 1987-1992” kicks off with three track recorded in Los Angeles in 1987 with Danny Johnson on guitar. Tracks 4 – 9 were recorded in Australia, April 1989. ‘You Are Your Money’ and ‘Dead Man Walking’ are two demo tracks from EZoo, a collaboration between Graham and Dario Mollo. Digging even deeper, ‘Glass Mountain’ and ‘Red Rum’ are two tracks recorded with Norwegian metallers Tomorrow’s Outlook. In 2015, Graham formed the Graham Bonnet Band, releasing the “My Kingdom Come” EP, with a title track courtesy of Russ Ballard and featuring ‘The Mirror Lies’. Tis extensive collection finishes off with Unleash The Beast’ by Rough Rockers and finally ‘Hippie Heart, Gypsy Soul’ from Wishing Well.

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