For most people, Graham Bonnet will be best known for his brief stint as Rainbow vocalist between 1979 and 1980. Although he didn’t get to spend long as Ritchie Blackmore’s singer of choice, his talents drove two of the band’s biggest singles – ‘All Night Long’ (a UK #5 hit) and the brilliant radio staple ‘Since You Been Gone’ (UK #6) – and he also performed with Rainbow when they headlined the first Monsters of Rock Festival in August 1980. You could definitely make a case for him being the band’s best-known voice.
Bonnet’s career as a professional singer started over a decade earlier and he achieved a brief spell of fame as one half of pop duo The Marbles, whose ‘Only One Woman’ (an oft-overlooked UK top 5 hit from 1968) showcased a voice that would later become an instantly recognisable talent. Following The Marbles’ early demise, Graham embarked on a solo career, but as careers go, it was rather slow to get off the ground. In 1974, he recorded material for what was to be his first solo album, but the recordings were shelved at the last moment. These were subsequently believed lost until they turned up on a cassette four decades later. Most of these songs were issued digitally as ‘Private-i (The Archives, Vol. 1)’ in 2015, but given the age of the average Bonnet buff, a bunch of digital files would never suffice. Thankfully, the bulk of the material – plus bonus tracks – appeared on CD the following year. With its original title reinstated, Graham’s debut LP finally became a reality.
Europe’s love of progressive music has been well documented. The Italian record buying market was one of the only territories to take to Genesis before 1973 and The Netherlands’ own mark on the psych and prog genres became legendary thanks to bands like Ekseption, Trace and omnipresent yodellers Focus. Greece bore Aphrodite’s Child which, in turn, gave the world the talents of Vangelis, while the Germans’ own brand of progressive music took a much more experimental turn with Krautrock. Despite being fairly marginal from a commercial, both Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream were taken to heart by a broad spectrum of UK record buyers in the 70s.
Despite so many different progressive subgenres breaking into the album charts from and wide, the Scandinavian contingent got far less of a look in. Sweden’s Kaipa latterly became one of the best known exports thanks to Roine Stolt’s later success with The Flower Kings and Anglagaard were loved by a few die hards, but outside of John Peel’s influence, Scandinavian prog never really found a true champion in the 60s and 70s or scored any genuine chart action.
Trevor and The Joneses’ 2012 full length LP ‘There Was Lightning’ was a well-constructed celebration of retro rock. The Vegas band’s fuzzy guitar driven style pulled a bunch of great late 60s and 70s influences together and gave garage band fans a record that blended psych and rock with the best elements of The Stooges, Lou Reed and Neil Young’s Crazy Horse. What it lacked in originality it more than made up for with enthusiasm, and despite being the kind of record that took a while before it found an audience, it had a few very vocal fans. Not least of these was Chris Topham, owner of the independent UK record label Plane Groovy, who picked up the album for a vinyl release in 2014, long before vinyl sales rocketed and twelve inches of shiny black plastic became the hip medium of choice.
Procol Harum’s ninth album, the prosaically titled ‘Procol’s Ninth’, is hugely disliked by some fans. A far cry from the pomp, adventure and bombast of their early work, it took them in more of a pop-rock direction under the influence of producers Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller. Against the band’s wishes, the record included covers of Leiber/Stoller’s ‘I Keep Forgetting’ and The Beatles’ classic ‘Eight Days A Week’. Although, in many ways, it remains a true oddity within the Procol canon, its an album to which time has actually been very kind, sounding better decades on. …And regardless of what you may have thought of the original LP, the two discs’ worth of live material appended to the Esoteric Records deluxe reissue in 2018 created a fine package.
Switching between being an actor, a musician and a radio host, Michael Des Barres has had a long and interesting career. You might remember him as the vocalist with 70s rock bands Silverhead and Detective. If hard rock wasn’t your thing back then, you might know Michael as the cool, scene stealing kid in To Sir With Love. Maybe you saw him get murdered in an alley in the Amicus horror film I, Monster. You almost certainly saw him fronting The Power Station during the TV coverage of the Live Aid footage. The point is that Des Barres has always been there, doing his thing.
By 2019, he returned to the rock scene fronting The Mistakes, whose ‘Crackle & Hiss’ single captured a great retro sound, injecting a little garage punk spirit into some huge swaggering riffs. The kind of number best played loudly, it placed Michael in a similar musical sphere to Duff McKagan’s extra curricular projects Neurotic Outsiders and Loaded.