REVIEW: GRAHAM BONNET BAND – “Meanwhile, Back In The Garage”
Graham Bonnet is arguably one of the most prolific voices in Rock and Metal to date, having fronted some of the most legendary ensembles in music including, Alcatrazz, The Michael Schenker Group and Rainbow to name but a few. Now, with The Graham Bonnet Band the legendary singer is showing no signs of slowing down. Gearing up to release a new album entitled ‘Meanwhile, Back In The Garage’ in July, fans will find they have much to look forward to, including heavy doses of musical nostalgia wrapped up in that irresistible Bonnet charm.
Openly cited as an intentional continuation from their last effort, ‘The Book’, ‘Meanwhile, Back In the Garage’ embodies many of the edgier styles Bonnet has experimented with throughout his career. From the opening title track, with its Yngwie Malmsteen styled guitars, to the hybrid classic rock and symphonic components that make up “The Hotel”, the record charts a course through many of Bonnets rich vocal stylings, offering examples of an earlier Bonnet at his contemporary best.
Fans, particularly those with a love for Alcatrazz, will love that Bonnet has enlisted Jimmy Waldo (Alcatrazz) to helm keyboard duties. Waldo’s traits shine through on the more chugging numbers, such as “Sea Of Trees” and the Tina Turner cover from Mad Max 3, “We Don’t Need Another Hero.”
When it comes to original songs, Bonnet lyrically pursues a much more grounded subject matter, often with subtle political overtones, as he reflects on the world around him. Yet ‘Meanwhile, In The Garage’ is also a great deal of fun. Like any bonafide Bonnet record, it’s always about that voice. A voice that hits you like a velvet punch that many have wished to emulate but none have come close to. Indeed if some songs are not as strong as they might have been, Bonnet’s voice is arguably stronger than ever. The aggressively spirited “America…Where Have You Gone?” being a case in point.
Yet while Bonnet shines personally, the singer is often let down by his musicians on this album. Kurt James delivers the licks here, and while the guitarist is technically jaw dropping levels of good, much of the guitar here sounds like Yngwie Malmsteen is still dishing out Alcatrazz riffs all over it. Bassist Beth-Ami Heavenstone and drummer Mark Benquechea hold the backbone of the material well, but their presence is otherwise easy to overlook.
‘Meanwhile, Back In The Garage’ effortlessly achieves a rigorous display of Bonnet’s seemingly endless vocal talents, reaffirming that the singers’ voice, personality and presence still owns whatever material he is part of.
Bold, booming, and a little bothersome at times, ‘Meanwhile, Back In The Garage’ won’t set the world of Rock n’ Roll alight or push the boundaries, but in showing a Maestro at work it’s a joy. It sees songs that don’t always deliver and an ensemble of musicians who often struggle to keep up with the man himself. But when it hits the sweet spot, it captures Bonnet at his boisterous best. Making ‘Meanwhile, Back In The Garage’ a steal at twice the price.