Marc Bonilla, released in June 1991 through Reprise Records.
Guitar "shredding" is one of those things that as a listener one either gets or doesn't get.
For those in the latter category, the style is a showoff-y example of
technique over content, the sort of thing that brings people to cluck,
"I bet he gets paid by the note."
For those who appreciate that there's value in the style, they can point
to some of the better exponents of shredding, citing people like Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and the much lesser-known Marc Bonilla as examples of players who offer subtlety and content atop the skill.
Currently the last-mentioned of these -- left-handed axeman Marc Bonilla
-- is touring as guitarist with the Keith Emerson Group. And while Mr.
Emerson is known more for skill and bombast than for subtlety, his
guitarist has it all.
In 1991 Bonilla recorded and released his debut album, EE Ticket.
A bit gimmicky in its attempts to tie the songs together thematically,
the record offers extremely tuneful excursions in progressive guitar
based pop. And while there's no mistaking that EE Ticket is
Bonilla's show from start to finish, the presence of some very heavy
friends adds to the enjoyment value of the disc. Keith Emerson, Ronnie
Montrose and producer Kevin Gilbert all make their presence felt.
It's true that the songs on this instrumental album are very much in the
vein of Satriani, but Bonilla seems to work from a background that's
grounded more in pop and rock than in the jazz and blues influences that
inform Satch's work.
The rubbery, jazzy lines of "Lycanthrope" (think: Nuno Bettencourt meets Frank Zappa) rank among the highlights of EE Ticket, but each track offers some sonic pleasures. The conceptual between-song snippets try for a The Who Sell Out
feel, and succeed relatively well in a 90s context. There's easily
enough variety on the disc's dozen tracks to please fans of progressive
rock, metal and heavy modern pop.
Marc Bonilla is arguably one of the greatest ever instrumental
guitarist-composers. Unlike many guitar heroes who seem to have only a
few variations or are mostly capable of only technically-brilliant jams,
Bonilla seems to delight in each composition being an musical journey
bound by a theme established early on in each track. Each song in EE
Ticket is distinct from the others, and the dexterity with which he
plays -- his mastery of the instrument -- makes this CD hold up over
many, many listens without seeming repetitive.
All songs written and composed by Marc Bonilla, except where noted.
No. Title Length
1. "Entrance" 0:46
2. "White Noise" 3:03
3. "Mannequin Highway" 4:58
4. "Commotion" (John Fogerty) 3:44
5. "Lycanthrope" 5:14
6. "Hit and Run" 5:05
7. "Afterburner" 4:29
8. "Hurling Blues Skyward" 3:36
9. "Antonio's Love Jungle" 4:13
10. "Razorback" (Bonilla, Don Frank) 5:20
11. "Slaughter on Memory Lane" 6:40
12. "Exit" 0:53
Marc Bonilla – guitar, guitar synthesizer, synthesizer
Kevin Gilbert – vocals, keyboard, Mellotron, organ, production
Ronnie Montrose – guitar, slide guitar (track 10)
Keith Emerson – piano
Don Frank – drums, percussion
Troy Luccketta – drums
Dave Moreno – bass