May 09, 2012 Web Exclusive
Sean Bonniwell will always be best remembered for his stint as the frontman of L.A. garage-rockers the Music Machine, howling out rowdy numbers in his mop top hairdo and signature black leather glove. (Bonniwell was rocking the one-glove look long before Michael Jackson broke the look on Motown 25.) The Music Machine's original lineup fell apart while they were working on a follow up to their debut album, which had spawned a surprise hit in the fuzzy, riotous "Talk Talk." He sold the rights to the band's name to the record label to get out of his contract, rebilled himself as T.S. Bonniwell, and recorded this solo album (and his last record for nearly four decades) for Capitol in 1969.
Close is a folksy and pretty straightforward singer/songwriter affair; you'd hardly recognize it as the same artist who sang with youthful angst and a throaty growl in Music Machine if you'd heard in "Talk Talk" or "Masculine Intuition." His soft, lilting croon here is accompanied by poppy, orchestral flourishes, the lyrics are a little maudlin at times, and the songwriting itself just isn't as exciting or individually defining as his more raucous garage tunes, despite how personal the whole project seems to have been to him at the time. There are some exceptions to be found, though: "Black Snow" is a darker, even somewhat haunting track with a gripping piano accompaniment, and "Sleep," the ragged, wistful piece that closes the album.
Capitol is said to have only pressed a few thousand copies of the album, which were only distributed regionally in California, making it something of a rarity. With the glut of great singer/songwriter albums birthed in the era, Close wasn't particularly worth searching for or shelling out the beaucoup bills that it regularly sold for. Real Gone Music has reissued the album in its compact disc debut, remixed and remastered, making it worth grabbing for Music Machine fans. Bonniwell oversaw the remix himself shortly before passing away last December at the age of 71. (www.realgonemusic.com)
Author rating: 5/10
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