Take one of the finest rock voices of all time (even if he didn’t know it until 1979), add in a couple of original members and guest guitarists from his other escapades and you get Graham Bonnet going back to the glory days of Alcatrazz. I’ve been a major fan of Mr Bonnet since his appearance on Rainbow’s Down To Earth album. I have sought out every release he’s ever done including the early pop, the film soundtrack where he played Billy Beethoven, through to all the sessions, solo outings, and bands he has appeared with. Including the extortionately priced Japanese and Korean output! I’ve seen him live numerous times and he certainly puts everything into every performance and I’m sure that tendons and blood vessels should never be that pronounced! He has also always had the knack of employing guitarists that can shred like a jar of Robertsons but he (usually) kept them restrained and melodic (apart from the very able Joe Stump who is the current guitarist). The new album Born Innocent also features writing and/or playing from Chris Impelliteri, Bob Kulik, Dario Mollo and Steve Vai.
One listen and you’ll think the intervening years between No Parole For Rock and Roll and the new incarnation never happened. The title track could certainly have appeared on that album and the rest flit between NPFRnR and Disturbing The Peace; but unfortunately, don’t reach the peak (for me at least) of Dangerous Games. Bonnet’s lyrics are as original as ever and often cleverly shoehorned into matching the music perfectly. If you are a royalist, musically Paper Flag is a treat but having a blatant go at the Monarchy doesn’t sit quite so well. The big surprise is on ‘Something I Am Missing‘ where he condemns the very hard rock genre that made him stating “When a song becomes too heavy, Sometimes I just can’t lift it… I just can’t stand to hear them” or, perhaps, I am misunderstanding the theme. Regardless it’s heavy rock of very high quality that Mollo backs superbly. ‘Body Beautiful’ is a warning of how tattoos may look when age takes over! The music and vocals are again first class with the intro and solo by Stump particularly worthy. Kulik’s music and Bonnet’s lyrics (which leaves little to the imagination as the subject is shagging) work really well on the fabulous ‘I Am The King’. Even the brass backed tribute to his late brother, ‘For Tony’, is still worth its place for the melodies.
There isn’t a duff song here and Bonnet still has the voice to carry all of the weight the band and guests admirably put in to back his melodies and provide thirteen tracks of excellent hard rock. Give it a few listens and then buy it.