Stand in Line

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Here comes cult hero Graham Bonnet, this time with new age axe-god Chris Impellitteri. Given Bonnet's history in Rainbow, MSG, and Alcatrazz, the supreme screamer is no doubt used to standing behind fretboard fireworks. But the best moments on Stand in Line occur when the man with the iron lungs steps up to the mike: the title track is a searing shot straight out of the Bonnet canon, the sweaty "Secret Lover" sends lyrics and guitar spiraling heavenward until an all-too-abrupt fade, "Tonight I Fly" features a cascading chorus of Hollywood heartbreak that only great Bonnet could deliver, and the James Dean metal of "Goodnight and Goodbye" makes for a wild ride. On the downside slides one of too many versions of "Since You've Been Gone," the Russ Ballard winner which Bonnet got right the first time (he also drops a nod to "Lost in Hollywood," a different dazzler from Rainbow's dynamite Down to Earth). Obviously, Impellitteri's running the show, but he almost runs the record into the ground with two excessive and useless instrumentals; the dilute update of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" is unnecessary and an affront to the guitar whiz's demographic inasmuch as his blatant attempt to one-up Ritchie Blackmore destroyed this disc's commercial chances. Impellitteri also emulates another of Bonnet's axe alter egos, Yngwie Malmsteen, by obliterating decent riffs with excessive ornamentation. Plus, the mix is a bit shrill and hollowed-out, a common plague on '80s production. Yet, these are minor gripes exacerbated but ultimately overshadowed by the greatness of the talent involved. When Stand in Line works, it rules.

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