Reviews roundup – Graham Bonnet vs. Ace Frehley vs. Appice
Graham Bonnet: The Story Behind the Shades
Easy On The Eye Books
And about time too. Considering the long and varied career he’s had it’s taken a long time for a Graham Bonnet biography to appear. Probably because his career has been so varied.
This beautiful looking book from Easy On The Eye Books is an authorised biography so don’t come here looking for the dirt. Although his alcohol problems are mentioned throughout the book, it’s skimped over as is a lot of his personal life. But it’s a small price to pay for the pre Rainbow years detailed here.
As is usual with someone who made it big, it’s the early years that are most interesting and his journey from Skegness to Top of the Pops and Billy Beethoven is definitely one worth reading. The author has spoken to a lot of people who knew him in the early days and there stories really bring his life to life. There’s not a lot in the way of criticism here as it is official and the author used to run a Graham Bonnet fanzine but the illustrations are fantastic and flesh out the words in fine fashion.
The hit years from Rainbow to Michael Schenker to Alkatrazz are well documented, with the struggles of the latter particularly illuminating. Granted, the post hit years descend into a bit of a sessions history in an attempt to document everything he has every done. A tricky job when his latter day motto seems to be “will sing for cash”. But with one of the finest voices I ever heard in concert he’s entitled to grab what he can, especially when his most recent recordings have been a real return to form.
There’s a lot in here that was new to me which is one of the delights of a biography and with the high productions standards (three or four minor typos aside) it’s a real treat for fans of the man and classic rock in general.
As well as the standard edition, there is a limited edition of just 300 copies signed by Graham Bonnet himself.
When “Space Invader” came out in 2014 I said about “Anomaly” that with hindsight, it wasn’t as good as I thought it was at the time and that I suspected sentiment had got in the way.
Well “Anomaly” is back for a second crack of the whip with bonus tracks. It’s been off catalogue since 2010 and now comes with three bonus tracks – two unreleased and the other only previously available on the original vinyl release. And, guess what. It’s not as good as I thought it was at the time and I think sentiment got in the way. So far, so deja vu. It did quite well for Ace on first release getting him into the USA Top 30 album charts for the first time since 1978 but, again, that was probably down to a lot of Kiss well wishers grateful to have him back on the recording scene.
The new tunes are Hard For Me’ (previously unreleased), ‘Pain In The Neck’ (previously unreleased slower version of the song on the original release) and ‘The Return Of Space Bear’ (for the first time on CD). There’s nothing tucked away there that’s going to have you gasping with excitement so it’s one for completists. Having said that it’s still better than “Monster” or “Carnival Of Souls”! This time around it’s on vinyl again as a double vinyl picture disc LP in a clear sleeve with leaflet, plus download and stream. But you’d be better starting with “Space Invader” is you missed that one first time out.
The first ever studio collaboration between the Brothers Appice, following on from their earlier live “Drum Wars” release. Carmen has worked with just about everyone including Vanilla Fudge, Rod Stewart and Jeff Beck while Vinny, ten years younger, has erred more on the side of metal with Black Sabbath, Dio, Heaven and Hell and Dio veterans Last In Line.
And this release is definitely more Vinny than Carmine. Annoying things first. The promo version doesn’t give you any writing credits so I’ve no idea who came up with the better tunes. Annoying, because there are a few of them here, mostly with Paul Shortino (Rough Cutt/Spinal Tap) on vocals. There are also a few with Jim Crean from their live release and Chas West from Resurrection Kings shows up as well.
Musically, it’s yer actual who’s who with, deep breath, Robin McAuley (Michael Schenker Group), Craig Goldy (Dio,Giuffra), Bumblefoot (Guns N’ Roses), Joel Hoekstra (ex Night Ranger, Whitesnake), Mike Sweda (Bulletboys), Eric Turner (Warrant), Tony Franklin (Blue Murder), Phil Soussan (Ozzy Osbourne), Johnny Rod (King Kobra, W.A.S.P.), Jorgen Carlson (Gov’t Mule) and David Michael Phillips (King Kobra) all putting in an appearance. But it all rises and falls with the songs and some of them aren’t there. When it’s good, it’s really good eighties hard rock and ‘Monsters And Heroes’, their tribute to Ronnie James Dio, ´Suddenly` and ´War Cry` absolute standouts. Not forgetting ‘Sabbath Mash’ which is exactly that.
It certainly sounds good as you would hope from people with their experience but it can’t shake off that project feel. Stream before you buy and download the good stuff.