Thursday, 29 April 2010

Graham Bonnet - Line-Up (1981) [1994 Japan]

Genre: Hard-Rock
Format: ape + cue + log
Released: 19981
Label: Nippon Phonogram (Vertigo)

01. Night Games
02. S.O.S.
03. I'm A Lover
04. Be My Baby
05. That's The Way That It Is
06. Liar
07. Anthony Boy
08. Dirty Hand
09. Out On The Water
10. Don't Stand In The Open
11. Set Me Free

Cozy Powell: Drums
Micky Moody: Guitars
Gary Twigg: Bass
Jon Lord: Keyboards
Graham Bonnet: Vocal

It's been 25 years since Skegness' most famous son, the heavy rock singer, Graham Bonnet, last troubled the UK singles charts. But back in the day, he cut the coolest of figures, perpetually
donning his trademark shades and a shock of spiked-up James Dean hair, leather jacket collars
turned up, with a don't-mess face that would see numerous set-to's with band mates, such as 'mad axeman' guitarist Michael Schenker, and guitar god Yngwie Malmsteen. But despite all the
well-reported shenanigans during his heavy metal heyday in the early 80s, it was in 1981 that
Bonnet cut his third and arguably most impressive solo album, Line-Up, With its ironic title implying both a police ID parade and indicative of the impressive array of stars that Bonnet
recruited to make the record, the opus demonstrates his amazing vocal range and power, from
kick-ass rockers to more tender moments. Indeed, despite the who's who of rock and metal guesting on Line-Up, its sleeve features images of five surly Bonnets - one vainly checking his hair! - underlining the fact that Graham always was the fulcrum of any band in which he starred.

Born on the Lincolnshire coast in December 1947, Bonnet was first smitten by Buddy Holly and jazz music. He played with the Joe Roth Orchestra and then on guitar with the jazzy Skyliners in the early 60s. Other influences crept in, including the Beatles, the Beach Boys amd the Kinks, and in 1965, he switched to the Blues Sect, before getting into the likes of Stevie Wonder, Gallagher & Lyle, Badfinger and Led Zeppelin. However, the young singer first made his name in the pop world when, in 1968, as one half of impresario Robert Stigwood's singing duo, Marbles (the other being Bonnet's cousin, Trevor Gordon), he had a Top 3 hit with the Barry Gibb-penned tune, 'Only One Woman' (later taken to No. 1 in Sweden by hard rock act Alien).

Several follow-up singles failed to make as big an impact (though one made the Top 30) and, after releasing an album in 1969, he joined Southern Comfort on bass guitar, in 1971. A couple of
singles for RCA followed ('Rare Specimen', in 1972, and 'Trying To Say Goodbye', 1973), but by
1974, Bonnet diversified into acting. As well as issuing a DJM 7", 'Back Row In The Stalls', in
that year he played a singer in a rock band in the DJM-backed comedy film, Three For All,
alongside his wife, Adrienne Posta. Among the cameos was one from Showaddywaddy, and they and Graham contributed to its original soundtrack LP, released in 1975 (as was an EMI single, 'Supergirl').

A year later, Bonnet took to the boards to sing in Paul Gallico's Snow Goose, under the direction
of none other than comedy great Spike Milligan. Soon after, Graham cut his first, eponymous solo album for Ringo Starr's Ring-O label. It went gold in Australia and spawned the pop 45, 'It's All Over Now Baby Blue' (followed by 'Danny', 'Goodnight And Good Morning' and 'Warm Ride'). A second, harder-edged outing, No Bad Habit (1978), led to another attempt to assail the charts in the shape of 'Can't Complain', and it was later that year that Bonnet got his big break.

Ritchie Blackmore was searching for a singer after the departure from Rainbow of Ronnie James Dio. Bonnet's shredding, lungmungous vocals contrasted sharply with Dio's pomp-filled stylings, and Blackmore deployed Bonnet as a vocal canonade at 1980's Donington festival. By then, his
tremendous vocals had led Rainbow (featuring Cozy Powell and Roger Glover) to its greatest chart successes, when the hook-laden, Russ Ballard-penned 'Since You've Been Gone' hit No. 6 on the UK singles chart in September 1979, and his equally memorable 'All Night Long' went one better in February 1980. The 45s helped take Down To Earth to No. 6, and Rainbow seemed to be at the peak of their powers. However, in the first of several head-to-heads with lead guitarists, Bonnet and Blackmore parted ways by 1981 (supposedly over Bonnet's short-cropped, snazzily-attired image), and Graham set about recording his full-blown hard rock magnum opus.

Line-Up only made No. 62 on the UK albums chart on its release in October 1981, but it's amazing that it hasn't been issued on CD in his homeland before. It includes his theme tune, the gripping 'Night Games' - which made No. 6 that March (and its follow-up 7"s 'Liar', also charted, though 'That's The Way It Is' fizzled out in October '81). Moreover, the 11-song Vertigo set features a stellar cast of players. Hence, it was issued in Japan by Polygram/Victor (always an arbiter of musical taste over media bias) in 1994, and regularly sold among collectors for ?25.

Here, we can now enjoy the good-times rockin' of the likes of 'SOS' and 'Set Me Free', and appreciate the work of Line-Up's cast of thousands - well, dozens. Among those acting as the
backbone of the outing are Bonnet's tub-thumping Rainbow colleague Cozy Powell, Deep Purple's key man Jon Lord, Whitesnake guitarist Micky Moody and Roger Chapman bassist Gary Twigg.

Overseeing the project were Nazareth producer/engineer John Eden, and his co-producer, Status Quo's Francis Rossi. Rossi's guitarist cum, Rick Parfitt, and keyboardist Andy Brown also chipped in, along with Argent songwriter/guitarist Russ Ballard, Camel and King Crimson saxophonist Mel Collins, Whitesnake bassist Neil Murray, Toyah and Mike & The Mechanics keyboardist Adrian Lee, J.T. Money bassist Kirkby Gregory, Miriam Stockley keyboardist Ian Lynn, Chris Rea percussionist Martin Ditcham and Bad Company keyboardist John Cook.

In 1982, Bonnet went on to the Michael Schenker Group (and his infamous run-ins with the German guitarist, notably at Sheffield), before joining Alcatrazz with Yngwie Malmsteen, in whose live set 'Night Games' became a staple. Since then, Graham has continued to record some fine work, notably Impelliteri's Stand In Line (1988, featuring a classic cover of 'Since You've Been Gone'), Blackthorne (1993), his solo Underground (1997) and The Day I Went Mad (1999), and the forthcoming Elektric Zoo album with Italian guitarist Dario Mollo (with a UK tour in autumn 2004). Bit it is Line-Up that stands as a testament to Bonnet's prowess as a truly outstanding vocal talent - one of the unsung greats of British rock music from any era.

Tim Jones, Record Collector, 2004

Monday, 26 April 2010

Patrick Rondat & Herve N'Kaoua - Patrick Rondat & Herve N'Kaoua 2008

Genre: Classic, Neo-classical Metal
Format: flac + cue + log
Released: 2008
Label: XIII Bis Records

Mozart : Les Noces de Figaro, K492 : Ouverture
02. Vivaldi : Concerto N°4 en Fa Mineur, Rv297 'L'Hiver' : Allegro Non Molto
03. Vivaldi : Concerto N°4 en Fa Mineur, Rv297 'L'Hiver' : Largo
04. Vivaldi : Concerto N°4 en Fa Mineur, Rv297 'L'Hiver' : Allegro
05. Beethoven : Sonate N°3 en Mi Bemol Majeur, Opus 12 N°3 : Allegro Con Spirito
06. Beethoven : Sonate N°4 en La Mineur, Opus 23 : Allegro Molto
07. Beethoven : Sonate N°1 en Re Majeur, Opus 12 N°1 : Allegro Con Brio
08. Beethoven : Sonate N°2 en La Majeur, Opus 12 N°2 : Andante Piu Tosto Allegretto
09. Beethoven : Sonate N°7 en Do Mineur, Opus 30 N°2 : Finale
10. Vivaldi : Concerto N°2 en Sol Mineur, Rv315 'L'Ete' : Presto
11. Kreisler : Prelude et Allegro dans le style de Pugnani
12. Faure : Sonate en La Majeur, Opus 13 : Allegro Vivo

When the metal and classical music together ... Known for having already released five albums and a live instrumental, Patrick Rondat is a guitarist of many talents. He has never hidden his passion for classical music. In making the acquaintance of musician Herve N'Kaoua this project to unite electric guitar and acoustic piano for performances of classical themes has finally taken shape. An accomplished pianist, first prize at the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique de Paris, Herve N'Kaoua been developing for several years an international career as soloist and recitalist. It is with this partner has an impressive resume that Rondat has carefully selected the works that make up this disc. Drawn from the directories of Beethoven, Faure (sonatas), Kreisler (Prelude and Allegro), Vivaldi (Winter of the 4 seasons), Mozart (the opening of The Marriage of Figaro), these pieces originally written for piano and violin, have was recorded live and in duet. An exercise and a novel approach that shatter the boundaries that some had been put up between two musical worlds, a priori, if different.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Greg Howe - Greg Howe 1988

Genre: Instrumental rock, Guitar Virtuoso / Shred / Kickass Guitar Music
Format: FLAC + cue + log
Released: 1988
Label: Shrapnel Records

01. Kick It All Over
02. The Pepper Shake
03. Bad Racket
04. Super Unleaded
05. Land Of Ladies
06. Straight Up
07. Red Handed
08. After Hours
09. Little Rose

Greg Howe: guitar
Billy Sheehan: bass
Atma Anur: drums

During the mid- to late '80s, talent scout and Shrapnel Records owner Mike
Varney was the ultimate source for new high-tech guitar virtuosos in the
post-Yngwie Malmsteen era (Malmsteen was also one of his finds). Among the
dozens of young guns who emerged from Varney's stable, Greg Howe was
one of the best. His debut album, Greg Howe, was groove-based, and
favored funk and fusion flavors over gothic neo-classicism. It sounded fresh
compared to the melodramatic work of peers like, say, Vinnie Moore.
Front-loaded with two devastating tracks, "Kick It All Over" and "The Pepper
Shake," Greg Howe is immediately engaging. Unlike other music in the
note-heavy "shred" genre, these two pieces sound fun rather than academic;
the irresistibly slippery grooves provided by the crack rhythm section of Atma
Anur (drums) and Billy Sheehan (bass) provide a supple bed for Howe's
playful fretwork. Unfortunately, the rest of the album falls off a bit after
that. The remaining tracks have some interesting ideas and plenty of
enthusiastic performances, but sound more like vamps for Howe's soloing
than songs. A few premonitions of Howe's more fusion-based future reveal
themselves on Greg Howe, although it's primarily a high-octane, indulgent
rock romp. Worth hearing.
Andy Hinds, All Music Guide