Graham Bonnet rose to prominence filling the large shoes of Ronnie James Dio when he replaced Dio in Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow. Bonnet only recorded one album with Rainbow, but with two U.K. Top 10 singles and a Top 10 placement on the LP chart too, Down to Earth was an unqualified success. Following his time with Blackmore's band, Bonnet resumed his solo career with 1981's Line-Up. Cherry Red's hard rock-oriented Hear No Evil label has recently reissued Line-Up with four bonus tracks as well as earlier albums Graham Bonnet and No Bad Habits (as a two-fer) and Back Row in the Stalls.
Line-Up returned Bonnet to his solo career which had previously seen singles on RCA and DJM, and two LPs on Ring O' Records and Mercury. The album reunited the singer with engineer John Eden who had worked on both the Graham Bonnet and No Bad Habits albums; this time, Eden would take the producer's chair. The album was spurred on by the success of the single "Night Games." The big AOR power ballad written by Ed Hamilton was perfect for the era with its blend of hard rock and radio-friendly pop. (Bonnet was no stranger to pop, having recorded songs by The Bee Gees and Hall and Oates throughout his career.) Bonnet's muscular lead vocal was accompanied by the stellar musicianship of Deep Purple's Jon Lord on keyboards, Rainbow and Whitesnake's Cozy Powell on drums, Gary Twigg on bass, and Micky Moody, also of Whitesnake, on guitar. Co-producer Francis Rossi of Status Quo gave the track an added flavor by playing electric sitar. Released in March 1981, "Night Games" made it to No. 6 on the U.K. Pop chart, backed with "Out on the Water." Plans were then set in motion for an entire album to be released on the Vertigo label. Unfortunately, Francis Rossi's commitments to Status Quo kept him from producing, and so John Eden took over.
Eden and Bonnet's manager selected the material for the Line-Up album. Micky Moody and collaborator Bob Young had written "Out on the Water." They supplied two more songs for the LP: "Dirty Hand" and "Don't Stand in the Open." Rainbow had transformed Russ Ballard's "Since You Been Gone" into a hit with Bonnet on lead vocals; the English singer-songwriter-producer with credits ranging from Argent to America was tapped for two tracks on Line-Up, "S.O.S." (on which he also played guitar) and the Argent/Three Dog Night hit "Liar." Ballard is also responsible for urging Bonnet to record the inspired cover of Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich and Phil Spector's Ronettes classic "Be My Baby," done in a heavy style that nonetheless respects the original's Wall of Sound production. Other covers came from the pens of Chuck Berry ("Anthony Boy") and The Kinks' Ray Davies ("Set Me Free"). Both sides of the single were, of course, included on the LP.
The cover of Line-Up was adorned with images of the singer as if emerging from a rainbow...or a Rainbow. Though Bonnet's emotive vocals and the searing guitars were in the hard-rock camp, appearances of brass, piano and lush vocal harmonies all kept the album outside of a "pure" rock or AOR sound. It performed commendably in the U.K. on the strength of "Night Games," reaching No. 62. (Follow-up single "Liar" peaked at No. 51. "That's the Way That It Is" was released as the third and final 45.) Hear No Evil's new reissue adds four bonus tracks: the non-LP singles "Don't Tell Me to Go" and "Bad Days are Gone," as well as the single versions of "Night Games" and "Out on the Water." Malcolm Dome provides a new essay in the full-color booklet, drawing on fresh interviews with Bonnet and key personnel such as Russ Ballard, John Eden, and Francis Rossi. Andy Pearce has remastered.
You can order the expanded and remastered edition of Graham Bonnet's Line-Up at the links below! Watch for coverage of HNE's other two Graham Bonnet titles soon!
Graham Bonnet, Line-Up (Vertigo 6302 151, 1981 - reissued Hear No Evil HNECD064, 2016) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada)
- Night Games
- I'm a Lover
- Be My Baby
- That's the Way That It Is
- Anthony Boy
- Dirty Hand
- Out on the Water
- Don't Stand in the Open
- Set Me Free
- Don't Tell Me to Go (Vertigo single VER 4-B, 1981)
- Bad Days Are Gone (Vertigo single VER 2-B, 1981)
- Night Games (Single Edit) (Vertigo single VER 1-A, 1981)
- Out on the Water (Single Edit) (Vertigo single VER 1-B, 1981)
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