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Graham Bonnet - Reissues album review

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

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.