Marc Bonilla, Toy Matinee, 3rd Matinee (Reissues)
EE Ticket, American Matador, Toy Matinee, Meanwhile
Noble Rot Records
You’ve seen the reissues in stores; the top ten compilations for hundreds of artists released on Collector’s Choice Records. Well, the record label is expanding, and that’s a good thing. Noble Rot Records has been created to reissue lost and forgotten gems from the ’80s and ’90s. Their first four releases all revolve around the guitar virtuoso Marc Bonilla: his two solo albums, EE Ticket and American Matador, the self-titled debut from Toy Matinee and the only album from the spinoff band 3rd Matinee’s Meanwhile. They are being rereleased with new liner notes and, on the Toy Matinee album, four bonus tracks. So is this all worth it? Yes it is.
Bonilla’s 1991 debut EE Ticket is entirely instrumental, but once you hear his guitar cry like Stevie Ray Vaughn, you’ll understand why lyrics are not necessary.
Bonilla’s second album American Matador, released in 1993, does have lyrics (albeit few) and the blues-rock is fully solidified as some of the best that has rarely been heard. The highlight is the vocal and instrumental versions of the Righteous Brothers classic “A Whiter Shade of Pale.”
Art-pop or funk-pop is the best way to categorize the only Toy Matinee album originally released in 1990. The group consisted of producer Patrick Leonard (who was riding the Madonna wave [Giggity] as her producer and songwriting collaborator at the time) and multi-instrumentalist Kevin Gilbert who ended up running the live show on his own with the help of Marc Bonilla on guitar and Gilbert’s then-girlfriend Sheryl Crow on keyboards. This album also comes with four bonus tracks, three of them early or alternate versions of their best three songs, “Last Plane Out,” “There was a Little Boy” and the poppy “Things She Said.”
The newest album of the four is Meanwhile by 3rd Matinee which is a revamped version of Toy Matinee. Patrick Leonard teams up this time with former Mr. Mister singer/guitarist Richard Page, which adds a little more ’80s to the album originally released in 1994. I keep waiting for “Broken Wings,” but alas it is not here. There are a few keepers, however, including the lighter-waving “Freedom Road” and “Holiday for Sweet Louise.”
Noble Rot has done a fine job reissuing a few of the lost classics from the ’80s and ’90s. Marc Bonilla’s debut EE Ticket is great for instrumental enthusiasts while his second album American Matador is probably his best. Toy Matinee has a much thicker ’80s feel and is great for those who are looking for some new retro music that isn’t really new, while 3rd Matinee is perfect for those who miss Mr. Mister. Noble Rot is planning several more rereleases of albums that went under the radar when they were originally released. While not all of them are going to appeal to everyone, it’s definitely something to check out if you are a fan of music from the ’80s and early ’90s.
Collector’s Choice Music: www.ccmusic.com