"The Book"

By Colonel Angus

I have been waiting for Graham Bonnet to make some new music for quite some time. "Down To Earth" was my first exposure to him and I have followed his music ever since.  Alcatrazz was unjustly overlooked and over-shadowed by a young Yngwie Malmsteen.  No matter if you didn’t think Bonnet looked metal or not, you had to agree that he had a great voice.  Just think of the guitarists that he has worked with; Blackmore, Schenker, Malmsteen, and Vai.  The man has stood on stage with the best and still held his own.  Now that he has decided to release new music, I was definitely going to first in line to get the new disk.  I’m sure I sound like a total fan-boy and that I can’t possibly give "The Book" a fair review.  Well let me tell you, being a super fan actually makes you more critical in your assessment.  Although I have purchased all the output from Bonnet, there were hits and misses.  What makes him one of my favorite artists is that the when he does hit, it is glorious and when he misses, it’s still pretty damn good.  

All of my ramblings brings me to this new release "The Book".  From my first spin, I have to say that Bonnet and company are not breaking any new ground.  The songs harken back to the 80s sound with a heavy emphasis on catchy riffs and melody.  Quite honestly, given his past records, did we expect anything else?  Some of the keyboards sounds also have that 80s sound.  For a good example, listen to the beginning of “Strangest Day”.  While some people would say that as an artist, he is not evolving or progressing but I look at it like “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.  Look at AC/DC.  They haven’t deviated from their initial sound and we still love them.  The record is solid throughout and while tracks like “Where Were You” (nice Rainbow/Deep Purple vibe in this one), “Into The Night”, “California Air”, and the title track stand out, the rest of the material is certainly better than filler.  This is the kind of disk you can put in and just leave it without having to skip around to different tracks.

Most disks give consumers a special bonus track for being first in purchasing but in the case of "The Book", you get an additional disk of re-recorded tunes from Bonnet’s career.  There are cover tunes by Rainbow, Michael Schenker Group, Alcatrazz, Impellitteri, and some solo material.  The band do a respectable job on all the material and keep pretty true to the original versions.  The main album is worth the cost but getting the bonus CD makes this a no brainer.  Speaking of the band, Jimmy Waldo is back from the Alcatrazz days making his presence felt.  There are plenty of keyboards on the record but never overpowering.  Conrado Pesinato supplies the guitars and he definitely comes from the Blackmore/Schenker/Malmsteen school of playing.  On the original material, he shows those influences but still manages to show that he is not just a clone.  Beth-Ami Heavenstone provides bass and hold down the rhythm with Mark Zonder (ex-Fates Warning).  It’s weird for me to hear Zonder playing drums on more straight forward material as a lot of his career involved drumming on more intricate prog metal.  Either way, Bonnet has surrounded himself with more than capable musicians.  

Like I mentioned earlier, "The Book" is not really a progression forward but more a celebration of good old fashioned rock/metal.  I really enjoyed the disk of originals but I also enjoyed the second disk’s walk down memory lane.  ?The Book" is a very promising start to another chapter in Bonnet’s career.