Graham Bonnet - Reissues album review

Before joining Rainbow, he was a low-rent Rod Stewart.

Graham Bonnet Back Row In The Stalls album cover

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It was quite a leap that Graham Bonnet made in 1979, when he replaced Ronnie James Dio as the singer in Rainbow. For all the power in voice, Bonnet, with his quiff and Hawaiian shirts, looked out of place in a heavy rock band of that period. And the music he made in the preceding years was a world away from Rainbow’s.

One album that Bonnet recorded in 1974 is now being released for the first time. Back Row In The Stalls (210) was shelved after the singer lost his record deal, and no wonder. It’s dreadful. Among its horrors are the Beach Boys pastiche What’s This ’Ere Then, and the sexist calypso swinger She May Not Be Much To Look At (But She’s Certainly Got A Heart).

Also available are a pair of late-70s albums on the two-CD set Graham Bonnet/No Bad Habits (310). Covers of Dylan’s It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue and the Bee Gees’ Warm Ride, a disco number left over from Saturday Night Fever, gave Bonnet huge hits in Australia. But on both albums, the whiff of chicken in a basket is unmistakable. Fortunately for Bonnet, a new opportunity was right round the corner, Ritchie Blackmore his unlikely saviour.

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2005, Paul Elliott has worked for leading music titles since 1985, including Sounds, Kerrang!, MOJO and Q. He is the author of several books including the first biography of Guns N’ Roses and the autobiography of bodyguard-to-the-stars Danny Francis. He has written liner notes for classic album reissues by artists such as Def Leppard, Thin Lizzy and Kiss, and currently works as content editor for Total Guitar. He lives in Bath - of which David Coverdale recently said: “How very Roman of you!”