Bonniwell Music Machine

What do Michael Jackson and the Bonniwell Music Machine have in common?
*special introductory paragraph!
*Turn On
*Beyond The Garage

They both have boys' jeans half off!

No, hang on. It's in my notes somewhere. Ah! Here it is. They were both hot to trot about wearing a single glove. The Music Machine's glove was black though -- as were all their amps, instruments, outfits and even their HAIR! The intent was to present a striking image to match the dark, brooding atmosphere of songwriter Sean Bonniwell's best material. You most likely know them as simply "The Music Machine," the name under which they recorded the classic garage stomper "Talk Talk" (not the keyboardy one that goes "All you do with me is talk talk!" That's by a band called Talk Talk and was recorded hundreds of years later). However, when the whole band split after the debut album, Sean replaced them and changed the band name to reflect his sheer Bonniwellism. That's right -- his utter, unforgivable Bonniwellism. Will they ever trust us again? Us -- with our crass, denominational Botulism?

Turn On - Original Sound 1966
Rating = 8

Have you ever had a handkerchief? I haven't. Handkerchiefs are the leftover transient remnants of a fleeting, long-dead generation of thieves and corporatalists. Unlike our short-sighted and eternally disrespectable "elders," my youth generation doesn't blow its snot into a piece of cloth we keep in our pockets. The reasons are few, but the impetus is simple: we don't want a pocket full of snot. Can the same be said for Ronald Reagan and all those other fat dogs in Washington (the District of Columbia)? I guess it depends on who, where and how rudely you ask. But I've said my piece, and now.... I'm gone like the night.

Oh, hang on - I'm not a White Panther! Who the hell replaced my Morning Effexor with White Panther Beans? God GOD! God Darn whichever one of you piles of silliness pulled such a ratchety chain of prankiness down across the body of my limbic system today and everyday heretofore. For that matter, I'd might as well review the first The Music Machine album.

Sean Bonniwell. Man with big, thuggish voice. Have you heard "Talk Talk"? "Hee's da sit-you-ay-shun 'n howit rilly stayans. Ah'm outta circ-ya-lay-shun. Ah've allbud washed mah hayands. Muh soshal lav'za DUD! Muh naymiz rilly MUD! Ah'm upta here in LIES! Ah gess Ah'm down ta size - TO SIIIIIIIZE!" The man makes Joey Ramone sound like a Christie Minstrel, for Job's Sake! But that's the key. The key to manliness is having a tough low greaser voice. Would the Music Machine's dark garage riffs be quite so menacing with Elton John singing? Of course not! As frightened as we all are by "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues," that brooding, menacing dirge is a black horse in the Elton John catalog; most of his material is prancey. Not so when Sean Bonniwell is around. A true precursor to Iron Butterfly's Doug Ingle, Sean makes the most of his low voicepipes whether shouting of "T-R-O-U-B-L-E: Trouble!!!!!" or crooning a heartfelt, soulful pre-Hendrix run-through of "Hey Joe." But that's not the ONLY

Way that the Music Machine premonited the Iron Butterfly! (Pretty clever how I started a new paragraph in the middle of a sentence, eh? That'll be my new patented d

Ramatic device.) The Music Machine's original material was also built on the same Doorsy organ tones, fuzzy early-distortion-pedal guitar tones, steady 4/4 beat and occasionally frustrating dichotomy of pissed-off and poppy material. Best of all, however -- Sean Bonniwell was one M.F.S.O.B.C.S.P.L.D.B. of a great songwriter! Not only is "Talk Talk" a Nugget from heaven, but his other originals are just as strong -- uptempo garage rock stompers with sharp guitar riffs and oodles of '60s attitude (with a couple of impressive forays into light melodic pop and brooding drama). Right out of the gate, Sean positioned himself as an intelligent and DARK rock songwriter - minor keys, menacing fuzz guitar, rebelling without a cause for such a thing as rebelling.

Unfortunately (and he'd agree), only ONE of the album's five cover tunes matches the band's image. The other four ("Cherry Cherry," "See See Rider," "Taxman Taxman" and "96 96 Tears") were never intended to be on the album (Sean was FURIOUS when the record company tacked them on), and showcase a perfectly adequate covers band led by a singer who is bored out the waz and just half-assedly imitating the original vocalists. I mean, they're fine because all four of those songs are good songs -- but they're not Music Machine material, and thus completely throw the overall mood of the record out of accordance with one's preferences and expectations.

See, usually these Nuggets bands have like one classic and then a bunch of crap. Such is not the case with The Music Machine. Bonniwell was an actual SONGWRITER, not just a pothead out there playing 50 different variations on "Pushin' Too Hard" like SOME bands called The Seeds I might mention. I'm not sure why the band never had much success -- maybe his voice was considered too unruly for radio? The only other possibility I can think of is that the follow-up single to "Talk Talk" really wasn't a very good song. It's like the only less-than-great original on the album, and it's the one they chose for the single. Thanks for nothing, E-holes!!!!

I don't know. I just got sick of writing "A-holes." Maybe it stands for "Earholes"?

Thanks for nothing, J-holes!!!!!

(That's my new nickname for Jennifer Lopez and whatever brainless pud she's dating at the time)

Thanks for nothing, Angelina Jolie!!!!

Reader Comments
"Talk Talk" is one of the top 5 greatest garage band songs ever. I could listen to that song for 3 hours straight. "Trouble" is great too. Your comparison of Sean's voice to Joey Ramone is right on. Sounds a bit like Arthur Lee too. If you like early Love, this stuff will blow you away! And I agree that the originals totally blow away the covers. That "Taxman" is pretty bad. Or maybe it's only bad because it sounds like the band isn't really into it like they are the originals. They were way too good at songwriting to have so many covers filling out their albums! (Steve Anderson)
Heers my sit chew ay shun & how it reelie stands! Gawd! This band is wound so tight! I snatched up all their old 45's first at various second hands & mail order's & Ebay & such.

Just recently did a "BUY IT NOW" for a SEALED copy of their Soiled mixed up masterpiece LP "TURN ON" with it's cheezie cartoon Black Gloved arm reaching up to the "Turn ON" switch up yonder corner of said LP.

The black clad ,Bowl head group staring out into our futuristic mugs!

I slit the 1966 vintage cellaphane with my 46 year old fingernail & gingerly removed the appropriatly black labelled vinyl slab out of it's coffin,where it had been sealed by some ol' lady around my current age back in the autumn of 1966 while I sat cross legged on the kindergarten floor getting caught eating Good N' Plenty candy by my Bee Hive haired teacher & being sent to sit behind the piano in blessed solitude!

I had no inkling then that I was breathing the same air as a killer band soon to be history!

As a teen I cut my long hair & became a "50's dude" . Totally caught up in the whole 50's revival shtick which led me to discovery of original old & sometimes very obscure 45 RPM's! Little vocally inept songs or totally sans vocals by greasers too cool to "Sing!"

But I also kept stumbling into snotty, snarling garage band 45's that seemed to caarry on the tradition of the classless greasers even as said greasers were making fun of and or threatening to wrestle em down & cut off that faggotty Beatlie hair!

Well,im trying to be Mr creative writer n' shit so i'll go back to the Turn On & Talk Talk about the Music Mashine who have been haunting my every move as of late! EXCLAMATION POINT !!!!!!

Sean Bonniwell is an enigma! He had been one 4th of a square looking/Sounding Kingston Trio -esqe group called the Wayfarers, recording for RCA Victor. They were all suit & tied up singing slick versions of "Shenendoa" & "All My Trials" in collegiate ernestness from 1961-to 1964. Sean Bonniwell, looks like a suited down Ex greaser along side the other three fraternity row denisons!

On the Worlds Fair 1964 LP, Sean actually stands out on one cut on a song about the future where it starts with a Smothers Brothersy comedy bit between Sean & the Banjo frat bro about said Frat Bro wanting to insert a song he had written for a time capsule to be buried at the New York Words fair & not opened till the year 5689 (By then lonnnng forgotten & left to rot I bet!)

Sean get's to be the strait man in the skit, the Chider who keeps interupting the frat banjo player with lines like:

"But frat Banjo player, the time capsule has already been sealed!"

Suddenly, a mere 2 years later he's laying down tracks wearing all black & the glove & Punk ass hair with a new breed of brothers! Normally the transition was going Byrds or Buffalo Springfield but Sean shed his suit & wet hair for this Super cool punk GOD persona! Wha Hoppen Sean?

In 1962 were you out of the shower ,hair drying in your face,singing macho monster prose into a hair brush? Gettin' ideas? Then making it to a Wayfarers gig singing ode's to "John Henry" ?

Where did all this TALK TALK angst come from?

By the way, I think another Music Mashine band mate is singing "Taxman" on the LP. I stinketh but I still play it! Now "Cherry Cherry" has grown on me! Even the fluit works for me! The percussion & the "Buh Buh Duh Da Duh" back up vocals. Sean is into the croon It shoulda been a Top 40 Hit had Neil given it to them!

"96 Tears" sounds tired. You can hear the bands impatience to get back to their tightly wound sound that Kicks major ass!

"Come On In" is proof that Jim Morrison heard it & went "That's gonna be MY corner of the universe, rip rip rip off!"

"Hey Joe" God, I love that base line bouncing ball action there & the Fuzz police filling the studio...yeah, Hendrix stole THIS "Hey Joe" no lie!

"Hang Ups...Everybodys Got em!"

Good Night!

Sean ...where ...are!
Back in high school, I got really into The Mooney Suzuki. I thought there was nothing like them ever, until a more educated friend of mine said, "Elliot, these guys here were doing this 40 years ago. Get with it." And so I did.

I find it really funny that bands were basically required to do covers back then. If you didn't have at least three or four on an album, you weren't doing it right. And even though their cover of "Cherry Cherry" is godawful, it's worth it for their cover of "See See Rider." Sooooo good!

The Music Machine must have freaked people way the hell out when they came onto the scene. I really think that if I had been alive during the flower power era, I totally would have started a band like this.

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Beyond The Garage - Sundazed 1995
Rating = 8

The Ronwelb Muslim Machine is a difficult band to wrap your fingers around; not only are they a collection of normal-sized men (immediately demanding an unreasonable finger length of several meters) but (a) a good deal of their music is far too poppy to fit their dark one-gloved image, and (b) their songs are WeIrD! I mean wEiRd! I mean WEird! weIRD! WeirD! wEIRd! WeiRd! wEIrD! God, the potential permutations are ENDLESS!!!!

This CD includes the full album released in the 1960s or so by the newly-christened and newly-membered "Bonniwell Music Machine" (an album that itself featured some songs by the original Music Machine), along with ten bonus tracks from singles, unreleased tapes and the black boxes of several aircraft that went down while the band was rockin' in the cabin' (rocking in the cabing). As a professional counter, I've determined that these 20 tracks can be divided (or "divvied," as laymen such as yourself might say) into three categories: 1 is by a pre-Music Machine band called The Ragamuffins, 10 are by The Music Machine and 9 are by the Bonniwell Music Machine. Interestingly strangely oddly enough, there is really no stylistic delineation between the three. Each and every one of the three tackle and box all sorts of different dark, light and in-between types of garage rock and pop, and they all feature that distinctive Sean Bonniwell off-kilter composition style.

You know how there are some bands you immediately really like or hate? For me, The Music Machine was an instant "like." Not every single song is a winner, but considering what a low profile the band has (and even had at the time), they had quite an interesting approach to screwing around with pop/rock convention in subtle ways that you might not even notice at first. Plus, Sean's liner notes in the reissue CD booklets are hilariously self-deprecating, which I can identify with because I'm constantly self-defecating. There I go now! (*shploff*)

While I'm licking my panties clean, how about if I share a few examples of Bon Seanniwell's light but tickly approach to songmanship fluffernuttery? "Bottom Of The Soul" - your basic dark fuzzy foreboding thing - so why include a circus interlude? "Soul Love" - your basic pre-"Radar Love" soul music riff - so why write a keyboard line that NEGATES the soulfulness? "Me Myself And I" - Groovy bachelor pad sounds for serious young adults - so why goof it up with oddball chord punctuations and comical jaunty keyboard runs? "Tin Can Beach" - Who on earth would decide to combine bachelor pad jazziness, Monkees bounciness and phased psychedelic hippiness? "Time Out (For A Daydream)" - If you've got a peaceful hippy anthem going on with two snappy acoustic guitars and communal hand clapping, would YOU suddenly throw a completely incongruent Dixieland band into the mix? "The Eagle Never Hunts The Fly" - I have no questions for this track. But do please note the surprisingly morbid middle section with scary noises. "Astrologically Incompatible" - Good old stinging dark Music Machine buzz guitar riff.... with HORNS?! Who the hell adds faggotyassfaggotgaypersonhavingsexwithaman HORNS to a chainsaw motorcycle riff? Also note how the chorus switches from minor to major key like 48 times in the space of 15 seconds. And finally, as far as examples go, "Discrepancy" -- In an attempt to recreate the dishonest manner in which people SAY one thing while THINKING something else, Sean has written TWO first verses and TWO second verses -- thus, he sings a verse at the exact same time that a chorus of men sing a completely DIFFERENT verse in the background. It is an odd, disorienting effect that'll leave you wondering whether he should actually have put his idea into practice.

But those are just a few examples of why the "T.S." in "T.S. Bonniwell" stand for "Total Shit!" Wait, no. Han

But those are just a few examples of why the "T.S." in "T.S. Bonniwell" stand for "T.S. Eliot!" There we go. That's ex - no, hang on a s

But those are just a few examples of why the "T.S." in "T.S. Bonniwell" stand for "Sean" and whatever the "T" stands for! Yes, it was a hot day in Oregano the day

But those are just a few examples. Otherwhere on the CD, you'll find some great moody pop, a couple of truly awful soul songs recorded in Memphis, more great garage stompers, a couple of blandly overdramatic failures and even some coy snappy romance (including Sean-as-Burt-Bacharach cheeseball "The Day Today!" If THAT song doesn't get you laid, you're certainly not in MY apartment and an attractive woman!).

And there you go man. Keep as cool as you can. Face piles of trials with smiles. It riles them to believe that you perceive the webs they weave. So keep on breathing free. Hands down, Calachee-bound. Landlocked, kiss the ground. The dirt of seven continents going round and round. Go on ahead Mr. Citywide hypnotized suit and tie. Tell me. Justify.

So which song do you think I should have them play at my christening -- "Suck My Ass It Smells" or "Henry Kissmyassinger"?

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Ignition - Sundazed 2000
Rating = 8

More more - always more! Nineteen songs more of rare and previously unheard material, ranging from their pre-"Talk Talk" 1965 demos to their 1969 experimental recordings -- all in no order whatsoever! These tracks aren't as odd as those on Beyond The Garage or as uniformly pre-punky as Turn On, but they do continue to demonstrate Mr. Bonniwell's songwriting acumen, most notably in the melodic, poppy and even HAPPY sense of the term (for the most part, I mean -- there are still a few pre-metal torture-tones like "Advise and Consent," "Two Much" and "Point Of No Return" floating around on the lilypads).

Forget it. I'm looking over my notes here and realizing the impossibility of attributing an overall "tone" to a CD comprised of so much disconnected material from so many different sessions. Forget the happy thing. Check out my notes for each song -- I mean, what would YOU say about this kind of CD?

1. good garage stomper with funky bass line! A ruler! (not literally a ruler)
2. vocal harmony too similar to "Laugh Laugh" by Beau Brummels
3. bubbly bass, bachelor pad chords and generic garage chorus
4. a joke bubblegum song intended to make fun of their manager. Happy, sounds like an early Who album track (toothless vox, Roger Daltrey date-raping everybody, etc)
5. Slow psychedelic blooze/soul music with weird unnatural breaks
6. soft, spooky ballad. Good! Moody! Del Shannony! (but not committing suicide, as Del Shannon did)
7. Uptempo fuzzer with odd note sequence. Motorcycle punk for the thinking man!
8. Early version of song on Beyond The Garage - not as confident as that version.
9. broodingly seductive like a bitter old prostitute who intends to give you gonnorhea. Backup vocals sound like shiTIT though
10. "I'm A Man"-style uptempo bluesy riff, but more carnival cute from a hip and sassy band. (*makes fart noise*)
11. cute WRONG melody in chorus. Basic uptempo verse with annoying little guitar trills. Slow piano break. Who the hell writes songs like this? Some stupid asshole?
12. Funky lil' soul tune about a drug dealer. Okay, but kinda Neil Diamondy. Have you seen the film Neil Diamond Parking Lot? How about House On The End Of Dead End Street? I haven't seen that one, but I did see Last House On The Left and House On The Edge Of The Park - the first was pretty good; the second was unbelievably stupid (though I still love David A. Hess). My friend Christian saw House By The Cemetery and said it was good. A long time ago I saw House with William Katt, but I don't remember whether or not I liked it. I saw a documentary called Hell House that was quite very good indeed. The Amityville Horror is about a house, but doesn't have the word "House" in the title. When I was about 8 years old, I met the guy who played John-Boy on Little House On The Prairie but I'd never seen the show. Some people refer to prison as the "Big House." John Houseman didn't have terribly wide range as an actor. I love the AC/DC song "This House Is On Fire." Now here's a question for you -- what do you call the building I live in?

A CO-OP!!!!!

(*races tearfully towards International Dateline in desperate attempt to regain time wasted on that 'joke.'*)

13. Tribal beat, piano line goes up and down and up and down. Tarzany, I guess? Was it written and recorded by the great Tarzan? Did Jane help him work out the changes in the chorus? Did Edgar Rice Burroughs share his cocaine with them? These are questions that will haunt us all many so people of us for times ever after. And I don't just mean people like me whose dicks are so long that we have to wrap them over our shoulder several times before we go out.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN, THAT'S MY INTESTINE!!??!? (*shits all over new Izod shirt*)

14. Good anthemic tune. Very important. And with a name like "Citizen Fear," it appears to be a clever reference to nothing at all. "Citizen Kane"? Doesn't rhyme. Is there a porn movie called "Citizen Rear"? If so, it's a takeoff on that.
15. Cute bouncy fast fun happy instrumental!
16. Strangely unnecessary vocal version of the cute bouncy fast fun happy instrumental outlined above.
17. Very likeable hippy hopeful but pessimistic pop song.

It kicks a big ass to use the phrase "hopeful but pessimistic" when you're too stupid to figure out what mood the song is trying to project.

18. Classic early Dark music machine music with strange out of place dancey acoustic guitar line that becomes an acid fuzz guitar! Look at it! It's brooding all over my floor!
19. Tongue-in-cheek comedy track whose difficult vocal leaps make a straining Sean laugh out loud at one point. So cute, you'll bake a potato, make a face on it out of cookie sprinkles, and shove it up into your womb where it will grow into a human baby!

See? I'm not the crazy one! If the jerk (Sean Bonniwell) isn't going to do the right thing like AC/DC or the Swans and record one type of song over and over and over again, then I'm sorry but I simply refuse to review the other 57 albums he recorded with the Bonniwell Music Machine, not to mention his later projects the T.S. "Sean" Music Machine, Bonniwell Disco Machine '77, Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music, Bonmusicimachinewell, and the Giant Fuckin' Piss Boners.

But to be fair, I should sum up my feelings for the Music Machine. This band and its leader were responsible for a tremendous number of creative, innovative and catchy garage rock, pop, soul and pre-punk riffs that will sound novel to your ears even this many years later in human history. I urge any fan of Nuggets-style music to purchase all three of these CDs post-haste. And if you see Sean, tell him I think he kicks ass!

Unless he's dead, in which case don't give him my name. I have enough problems without some fuckin' zombie emailing me all the time.

Unless you know Rod Argent. If so, tell him I think he kicks ass!!!!

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Buy the aforementioned CDs by clicking on this link. Then click on the album covers to unveil and reveal previously unseen CHEAP USED CD prices. In my opinion. If you wanna know what I think.

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