Mr. Bones

Ronnie Montrose

Sega Music Group, 1996

http://www.ronniemontrose.com

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 04/03/2020

The one constant present in the career of guitar maestro Ronnie Montrose—besides phenomenal tone—was his drive to follow his muse wherever it might lead. Following the release of, and tour for, 1994’s strong instrumental power-trio disc Music From Here, Montrose was approached about scoring a new video game under development by Sega for its Saturn gaming system.

Montrose had always wanted to try his hand at scoring and accepted the job, setting off on what turned into a two-year odyssey. As part of the agreement with Sega, he was able to take the snippets of music he created for the game—whose title character is a swamp-dwelling, guitar-playing skeleton named Mr. Bones—and use them as the basis for a full-length soundtrack album released on Sega’s house label. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The game creator’s vision was to have the title character Mr. Bones play mostly swampy Southern blues guitar, but as the project moved forward, that evolved into just one of several musical guises that Bones and his alter ego Ronnie Montrose inhabited. This expansive 16-track, 74-minute album ranges from atmospheric hard rock (opener “Manifesto” and the soaring “Red To Blue”) to rollicking Southern boogie (electric slide workout “Bones Is Bones” and foot-tapping, finger-snapping closer “The Last Word”) to the aforementioned swampy blues (“Who’s Out There?”).

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Montrose production without a tone showcase or two, which the slow, intense “The First Thing” and “Dry Moat” willingly provide. Montrose also brings the acoustic to the forefront for the sharply-plucked “The Village” and the genuinely swampy acoustic-slide showcase “By The Way,” complete with crickets in the background.

Not everything here works. “In This World” features guest vocalist Fitz Houston essaying a lyric that’s plenty bluesy but doesn’t feel like it has much to do with Mr. Bones. A few other numbers feel like lab experiments that didn’t quite come together—the string-laden “The Valley,” the acoustic-picking-plus-electric-slide “Shadow Monsters,” and the purely atmospheric “Mausoleum.”

In a career mostly spent off the beaten path, Mr. Bones is one of the quirkiest side-treks Ronnie Montrose ever took; one listen to the “little people voices” chanting on “Icy Lake” is all it takes to establish that. But if you set aside the unusual circumstances surrounding this album and just listen, there’s plenty of solid music to be found here—not to mention, naturally, spectacular tone from the first chord to the last.

Rating: B-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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