Gary Bonner (aka Garry Bonner)
Band members Related acts
line up 1
- Gary Bonner (aka Garry Bonner) -- vocals
- The Barracuda
- Elmo & Almo
- Alan Gordon (solo efforts)
- The Magicians
- The Parrots
- The Planotones
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title: Gary Bonner
Country/State: Bronx, New York
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: punch out hole top right corner
Catalog ID: 1989
Given his early successes as a writer (even if you don't know who Garry Bonner is, you've certainly heard some of the songs he's written - 'Happy Together, 'She'd Rather Be With Me' and 'Celebrate, Bonner's solo recording history is best described as sporadic and hard to track down. As far as I can tell, here are the solo singles he's released over the years:
- 1967's 'The Heart Of Juliet Jones ' b/w 'Me About You' (Columbia catalog 4-44306)
- 1968's 'The Saddest Bank Holdup Culver City Ever Had' b/w 'Jug Of Wine' (Columbia catalog number 4-44703)
- 1968's ''It's So Easy'' b/w 'Mother's Waiting' (Columbia catalog number 4-44927)
- 1972's 'Everlasting Love' b/w '' (MGM Verve catalog number MV 10687)
- 1974's 'Should Anyone Ask' b/w 'Back Street Romance' (Atlantic catalog number 45-3234)
- 1974's 'I Can't Take It' b/w 'I Can't Take It On' (Atlantic catalog number 45-3275)
- 19?? - 'There's a Place and It's Green as Any County Mountain' b/w 'Remember How the Sun Felt' (Faithful Virtue catalog number 7001-A/B)
- 1974's 'Baby, Baby (Love Is Waitin')' b/w 'Happy Together' (Atlantic catalog number K-10512)
I'll readily admit "Gary Bonner" is largely a mystery to me. I've never been able to find a review of the album, let alone any concrete biographical information on the set. The album doesn't even show up in most discographies and on-line music references. 'The Saddest Bank Holdup' and 'Jug Of Wine' date back to 1967 when they appeared as both sides of Bonner's third single for Columbia. Pure speculation on my part, but judging by the song-writing credits (six of the nine tunes were Alan Gordon - Gary Bonner credits), the overall sound, and the feel of the tunes, the album certainly sounded like a compilation of earlier studio demos that simply got shelved along the way. Given Bonner had one of pop's great voices, I'd love to tell you these nine tracks were great. Unfortunately most weren't. 'Mothers Waiting' was an exception. With a full studio arrangement, this up-tempo tune could have been a big hit for Bonner. Also interesting were Bonner's original version of 'Celebrate' and the opening rocker 'Goodbye Surprises'. Otherwise the material was spotty with little interest outside of hardcore collectors. How Bonner ended up on Nate McCalla's New York based Calla Records is a mystery. Interesting the album catalog number doesn't even match the rest of the label's discography.
Bonner" track listing:
1.) Goodbye Surprise (Alan Gordon - Gary Bonner) - 2:38 rating: *** stars
The raw and under-produced sound (the drummer sounded like he was having a stroke), seemed to support the contention this was a demo. Interestingly that raw edge coupled with Bonner's strong voice gave the song an engaging urgent edge. Hardcore fans will want to know that both The Turtles and Flo and Eddie covered the tune.
2.) Man On The Bicycle Knows (Alan Gordon - Gary Bonner) - 2:32 rating: ** stars
Whereas Bonner sounded pretty good on the first tune, on 'Man On The Bicycle Knows' he sounded shrill and uninterested. Add to that, the song (at least this arrangement), simply didn't have much of a melody going for it.
3.) Jug of Wine (Ralph Dino - John Sembello) - 3:14 rating: *** stars
In spite of the stark arrangement - just Bonner accompanied by an electric piano, 'Jug of Wine' was a pretty ballad that spotlighted Bonner's sweet voice.
4.) Saddest Bank Hold Up (Ralph Dino - John Sembello) - 3:33 rating: *** stars
Pretty acoustic ballad with a nice Kirby Johnson arrangement. It also served to showcase what a nice voice Bonner had. As mentioned above, the tune was originally released as a 1968 single:
- 1968's 'The Saddest Bank Holdup Culver City Ever Had' b/w 'Jug Of Wine' (Columbia catalog number 4-44703). Not sure why the album listed the tune with the abbreviated title ...
5.) Mothers Waiting. (Hank Holman) - 3:00 rating: **** stars
One of the few tunes that sounded like a completed effort, 'Mothers Waiting' benefited from a full band arrangement, an instantly appealing melody, and a great Bonner vocal. This one could have and should have been a massive hit for the man.
A nice enough pop tune that would have been far better had Bonner been allowed to find a more comfortable vocal range. As it was, he sounded quite uncomfortable with the song's high range, struggling to find his falsetto. The elaborate arrangement didn't help.
2.) Celebrate (Alan Gordon - Gary Bonner) - 2:44 rating: *** stars
Yes, Three Dog Night enjoyed a massive hit with their cover of this one. Three Dog Night didn't mess much with the original melody, though to their credit, they had the smarts to speed the song up. They also streamlined and commercialized the fade out refrain. In contrast Bonner's version was virtually glacial. I remember checking my turntable to see if I had messed up the speed adjustment.
3.) Love A Stranger (Alan Gordon - Gary Bonner) - 2:18 rating: *** stars
In spite of a strained vocal, sporting a mid-'60s blues-eyed soul feel, I have to admit I really liked 'Love a Stranger'.
4.) Small And Foolish (Alan Gordon - Gary Bonner) - 2:45 rating: ** stars
Earnest folk ballad with Bonner seemingly double tracking his vocal in places. Clearly another studio demo intended to shop around to other acts.
I don't know if its true, but I did find a supposed quote from Bonner himself: "The Calla LP??...is that the one with my mug on the album cover ...That's just a bunch of sloppy demos some guy put together and sold to Roulette to make a buck... I had nothing to do with it... After the MGM disaster, I never made another record...couldn't get a deal. Had a few singles on Atlantic...that's about it."
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