Half Notes: T.S. (Sean) Bonniwell – Close (1969; 2012 reissue)

What a trip this is, the lone and long-forgotten album from Sean Bonniwell, or T.S., or whatever. Best known as leader of the 1960s American garage-rock band the Music Machine, he’d briefly established a reputation for fuzzy-guitared, Farfisa-organed sides like the Top 20 hit “Talk Talk.” You hear, in the best of it, an early infrastructure for punk. Don’t come looking for that, however, on this 1969 solo debut — which found Bonniwell trading in his first name for the more regal sounding “T.S.,” and assuming a similarly introspective tone that must’ve stunned fans of his old band. Flecked with touches of bossa nova, flamenco, even strings (!), Close — perhaps, predictably — went nowhere on the album charts — but remains this charming easy-listening oddity. Not long after, Bonniwell retired from music for good. A well-timed reissue by Real Gone Music of this project, long a sought-after collectors item, comes in the wake of Bonniwell’s untimely recent passing after a bout with cancer. By the way, the Music Machine also featured bassist Keith Olsen, who went on to fame as a producer — notably with Fleetwood Mac, the Scorpions, Whitesnake and the Grateful Dead.

‘Half Notes’ are quick-take thoughts on music from Something Else! Reviews, presented whenever the mood strikes us.

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Nick DeRiso

Over a 30-year career, Nick DeRiso has also explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz, Ultimate Classic Rock and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.

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