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The Bonniwell Music Machine [Vinyl LP Record]
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Side 1 Astrologically Incompatible Double Yellow Line The Day Today Absolutely Positively Somethin Hurtin Me The Trap Soul Love Side 2 Bottom of the Soul Take Me Down The Eagle Never Hunts The Fly I've Loved You Affirmative No Discrepancy Me Myself and I
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Perhaps even more than the first collection, this set shows just how good Sean Bonniwell was at writing some good lyrics, and as always, his vocals were always at the forefront of the band's sound--a good thing. And on the solo demos you can really appreciate his voice when there's only a 6 or 12 string guitar for accompaniment. Maybe even more than the first set, this batch of tunes shows that there was more to Bonniwell than just "Talk Talk".
Many of Disc 1's songs were played by the original Music Machine before that band splintered. And many of the tunes were recorded as demos which the band would then record as finished songs later in the studio. A few of these demos were "cleaned up" and released as singles. Bonniwell's lyrics from this period show him moving into slightly more philosophical areas, but always with his trademark vocal style. Plus the second and third incarnations of the band can also be heard on some of these tunes, but it was Bonniwell's vision that formed and molded the band's sound. The musicianship is mostly at least as good as the original band--including fuzzed out guitar, swirling organ, propulsive drumming, and of course, Bonniwell's vocals. To my ears a number of these songs may be better than many of the songs on the first compilation. With his inventive lyric writing, and some good musicians, Bonniwell sounds more sure of his music and how it should be recorded. Now, is every song strong? No. But overall this sounds like an even better representation of Bonniwell's music.
The second disc has a number of demos with Bonniwell on vocals and guitar. Several of these are very strong lyrically and vocally. Even as bare bones recordings there's a simple straightforward power and a kind of mystery to his songs. These aren't throwaways or filler. The demos help fill in the picture of Bonniwell's style of writing and his unique vocals are (for the most part) inspired. Also interesting are the tracks by The Ragamuffins. "Chances" is a low-key tune that shows the group at it's subtle best. There's also ten tracks by The Music Machine in the form of some good demos (check out "She Is") and rehearsals, and a stereo mix from 1969. There's a track from a flexi-disc, "Point Of No Return", which is typical of the band's sound--with some good organ, guitar, and Bonniwell's vocals. And listen to the the finished versions of "Dark White" and "King Mixer" compared to the demo versions for an idea of how good the band sounded.
This second compilation is worth hearing by Music Machine/Bonniwell fans. Even though there's three different bands here, thanks to Bonniwell's musical vision, most of these tracks have the sound that fans have come to know. And the solo demos take listeners into another area of this underrated writer/vocalist. If people know his name at all, it's for "Talk Talk", but this collection from every stage of The Music Machine's life, show that there was more to Sean Bonniwell than a two minute garage band classic.