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Graham Bonnet: Anthology (2CD/DVD)

Even with a career spanning 50 years in the world of rock, singer Graham Bonnet is still best known for his one album stint alongside Ritchie Blackmore in Rainbow and a similar length outing with the Michael Schenker Group. In truth however, any Bonnet, or indeed rock, fan worth their salt will already know Down To Earth by Rainbow and Assault Attack from MSG inside out. So while pernickety folks may well complain at the scant inclusion of either band's output on this 2CD/DVD retrospective of Bonnet's career, what you will find is well worth your attention. In fact, with it covering everything from his time in The Marbles right through to the bang up to date Graham Bonnet Band - and most else in-between - this collection is actually a whole lot more interesting.

Taking care of the Rainbow years we get the b'side cut "Bad Girl", which while derivative of the era, stands up pretty well, while updated versions of "All Night Long" and "Lost In Hollywood" also appear - both of which are a little heavier and blunter than the originals, but are still damn good fun. MSG get an even quicker nod through the b'side "Girl From Uptown", which is actually a storming little number. These brief forays (while possibly due to licensing issues…) allow a stronger spotlight to be shone on less celebrated but equally exciting periods of Bonnet's catalogue, three pre-Rainbow cuts giving a flavour of the more traditional rock n' roll the singer was favouring before Blackmore toughened him up, while the hit 'Night Games' and 'SOS' from Bonnet's post-Rainbow solo outing Line Up may well be the best Rainbow tracks the band never wrote or recorded. After the singer's time with Schenker came to a quick and unceremonious end he formed Alcatrazz, the band at different times utilising the amazing guitar talents of Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai and Danny Johnson, and for those not so familiar with the band, that the likes of the Yngwie led "Hiroshima Mon Amor" and stunningly Vai infused "God Blessed Video" come close to outshining Bonnet's Rainbow years, will be a welcome surprise. Something that almost, but not quite, can also be said for the work Bonnet did with Impellitteri, "Stand In Line" and "Tonight I Fly" stinging stabs of 80s guitar histrionic infused melodic rock. Two tracks from one of Bonnet's lesser known collaborations, Forcefield, make for excellent inclusions, "Hit And Run" featuring drummer Cozy Powell and guitarists Jan Akkerman and Paul Fenwick, while "Let The Wild Run Free" teams Bonnet, Powell and Fenwick up with guitarist Bernie Marsden (Whitesnake). As if that wasn't enough disc one also contains the demo "Midnight Crossing", which while there's little detail as to where the cut comes from and the sound is far from cutting edge, is still a great commercial rocker.

Disc two opens with "Look Don't Touch", an AOR schmoozer from the often overlooked solo album, Here Comes The Night before moving on to the Blackthorne years. Bonnet has openly voiced his dislike for this era of his career, personal problems never far away as he was cajoled by guitarist and band leader Bob Kulick (Meat Loaf/Balance/Skull) into a rasping Brian Johnson (AC/DC) like delivery. Although I have to say that "We Won't Be Forgotten" and "Don't Kill The Thrill" are amongst my favourite cuts in this set, even if Bonnet isn't keen on them. More underrated solo tracks are aired, "Breakaway" from 1997's Underground and "Killer" from 99's The Day I Went Mad, both notable for featuring Alcatrazz guitarist Danny Johnson and both being mighty fine. From there a whistle stop tour of Bonnet's latter day collaborations, Anthem, Impellitteri (again), Taz Taylor and Elektric Zoo convince to varying degrees. The three cuts with Japanese veterans Anthem may well be the unsung heroes of this compilation, Bonnet in imperious form as a slightly heavier but no less accessible side to his armoury is revealed, although the Taz Taylor tracks don't hold up quite so well. Something that certainly can't be said for the track with Dario Mollo in Elektric Zoo, the guitarist's dramatic approach perfect for his singing partner. Fittingly the audio portion of this release closes out with two tracks from Bonnet's current Graham Bonnet Band, both "My Kingdom Come" and "Mirror Lies" proving the singer is just as potent and focused now, as he may ever have been.

If the CDs are excellent - and they are - the DVD in this set maintains that standard, a collection of solo, pre-Rainbow on-stage (but not 'live') promo videos letting you see and hear how captivating the young Graham Bonnet was. The promo video for "Night Games" is also a welcome inclusion, before three promos from the Alcatrazz years, two from Impellitteri and one from the Graham Bonnet Band close this section out in fine style. In between the songs Bonnet introduces the clips, however if anything on this set is a let down, then it's this. Clearly jet lagged (something he references himself numerous times) Bonnet sits in a hotel room ad-libbing his memories of the clips. With a hairdryer hanging on the wall behind him and little editing done to remove the mistakes (funny though they are the first time you hear them), it all feels slightly unprofessional. However with the eight song Impellitteri live show Powerstation Live In Tokyo 1988 also included, any shortcomings can be quickly forgiven. This portion is almost worthy of the admission price alone, a band featuring Bonnet, guitarist Chris Impellitteri, keyboard-man Phil Wolfe, bassist Dave Spitz and drummer Stet Howlend, on absolute top form as they power through the likes of "Stand In Line", "Leviathan" and the Rainbow classics "All Night Long" and "Since You've Been Gone".

Coming presented in a stunning clamshell case and with detailed liner notes where Bonnet gives a little insight behind the bands featured across this set, there really is little to complain about, even if the booklet could make it a little easier to decipher which songs belong to which band. Although the back of the three individual slip cases do go most of the way to clearing that up.

Throughout his career Graham Bonnet has had many ups and downs and he hasn't always taken the career moves that were maybe most expected of him, or in truth the wisest. However what he's never failed to do is turn in scintillating vocal performances that have raised him up from the pack time and again. Anthology is a wonderful way to relive and revisit (or indeed discover) some of the less well known tracks that he's graced with his voice. Leaving you in little doubt that it's one of the finest rock has ever heard.


Track Listing
DISC ONE CD
1. ONLY ONE WOMAN
2. IT'S ALL OVER NOW BABY BLUE
3. WARM RIDE
4. BAD GIRL – Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow
5. NIGHT GAMES
6. S.O.S.
7. GIRL FROM UPTOWN – The Michael Schenker Group
8. ISLAND IN THE SUN – Alcatrazz featuring Yngwie J. Malmsteen
9. HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR – Alcatrazz featuring Yngwie J. Malmsteen
10. SINCE YOU BEEN GONE (LIVE) – Alcatrazz featuring Yngwie J. Malmsteen
11. GOD BLESSED VIDEO – Alcatrazz featuring Steve Vai
12. WILL YOU BE HOME TONIGHT – Alcatrazz featuring Steve Vai
13. SKYFIRE – Alcatrazz featuring Steve Vai
14. BLUE BOAR – Alcatrazz
15. STAND IN LINE – Impellitteri
16. TONIGHT I FLY – Impellitteri
17. MIDNIGHT CROSSING (1989 Demo)*
18. HIT AND RUN – Forcefield
19. LET THE WILD RUN FREE – Forcefield
20. ALL NIGHT LONG (2015 VERSION) – Graham Bonnet Band*


DISC TWO CD
1. LOOK DON'T TOUCH
2. AFTERLIFE – Blackthorne
3. WE WON'T BE FORGOTTEN – Blackthorne
4. DON'T KILL THE THRILL – Blackthorne
5. BREAKAWAY
6. KILLER
7. HUNTING TIME – Anthem
8. HUNGRY SOUL – Anthem
9. LOVE IN VAIN – Anthem
10. PERFECT CRIME – Impellitteri
11. FIGHTERS FIST – Taz Taylor
12. RADIO LUXEMBOURG – Taz Taylor
13. YOU ARE YOUR MONEY (DEMO) – Elektric Zoo*
14. LOST IN HOLLYWOOD
15. MY KINGDOM COME – Graham Bonnet Band**
16. MIRROR LIES – Graham Bonnet Band**


DISC THREE DVD
1. IT'S ALL OVER NOW BABY BLUE
2. DANNY
3. ONLY YOU CAN LIFT ME
4. WARM RIDE
5. CAN'T COMPLAIN
6. I'M A LOVER
7. THE WAY THAT IT IS
8. ANTHONY BOY
9. NIGHT GAMES
10. ISLAND IN THE SUN – Alcatrazz featuring Yngwie J. Malmsteen
11. HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR – Alcatrazz featuring Yngwie J. Malmsteen
12. GOD BLESSED VIDEO – Alcatrazz featuring Steve Vai
13. STAND IN LINE – Impellitteri
14. STAND IN LINE (Alt. version) – Impellitteri
15. THE MIRROR LIES – Graham Bonnet Band
16. STAND IN LINE – Impellitteri
17. TONIGHT I FLY – Impellitteri
18. LEVIATHAN – Impellitteri
19. ALL NIGHT LONG – Impellitteri
20. SECRET LOVER – Impellitteri
21. SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW – Impellitteri
22. GOODNIGHT AND GOODBYE – Impellitteri
23. SINCE YOU BEEN GONE – Impellitteri


* denotes previously unreleased
** denotes first time on CD

Added: May 3rd 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Anthology at Cherry Red
Hits: 433
Language: english

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