Bonnie Raitt – Bonnie Raitt – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

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Bonnie Raitt – Bonnie Raitt

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

The average Green Label Warner Bros. copy we played was lackluster to say the least. The words on some of my notes read flat, veiled, dry, dark, edgy: None too promising, but we persevered and found this one! The reissues we heard tended to be modern and thin. Definitely not our sound. 

Bonnie Raitt fans take note: This album did not sell well. It appears that it never even charted, which means that original copies are hard to come by. On top of that clean ones tend to be expensive and prices are climbing. All things considered, it will surely be years before we attempt this shootout again.

Side One

A++. By track two the sound is rich and solid, yet clear. Lovely Tubey Magic and an unprocessed live quality make this one sound about as right as it’s going to get. The drums are especially real sounding, with little in the way of EQ and compression (not that those are bad things).

The rich piano and vocals on track three seal the deal — It’s Super Hot!

Note that the first track, a cover of Bluebird, was a bad idea from the start. The sour sound did it no favors either.

Side Two

A++. Yes, it’s a dead room, but on the best pressings there is still ambience and space to be heard. This one has both.

The vocals, often edgy on other copies, were not edgy here. The sound is rich and clear, the ideal combination.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Bluebird 
Mighty Tight Woman 
Thank You 
Finest Lovin’ Man 
Any Day Woman

Side Two

Big Road 
Walking Blues
Danger Heartbreak Dead Ahead
Since I Fell for You 
I Ain’t Blue 
Women Be Wise

AMG  Review

The astounding thing about Bonnie Raitt’s blues album isn’t that it’s the work of a preternaturally gifted blues woman, it’s that Raitt doesn’t choose to stick to the blues. She’s decided to blend her love of classic folk blues with folk music, including new folk-rock tunes, along with a slight R&B, New Orleans, and jazz bent and a mellow Californian vibe.

Surely, Bonnie Raitt is a record of its times, as much as Jackson Browne’s first album is, but with this, she not only sketches out the blueprint for her future recordings, but for the roots music that would later be labeled as Americana. The reason that Bonnie Raitt works is that she is such a warm, subtle singer. She never oversells these songs, she lays back and sings them with heart and wonderfully textured reading.

Her singing is complemented by her band, who is equally as warm, relaxed, and engaging. This is music that goes down so easy, it’s only on the subsequent plays that you realize how fully realized and textured it is. A terrific debut that has only grown in stature since its release.

Original 1971 album liner notes

This music was made at an empty summer camp on Enchanted Island, about 30 miles west of Minneapolis on Lake Minnetonka. In between ping pong and fishing, we recorded in a wood-frame garage with Dave and Sylvia working the equipment from a loft above us. We recorded live on four tracks because we wanted a more spontaneous and natural feeling in the music – a feeling often sacrificed when the musicians know they can overdub their part on a separate track until it’s perfect. It also reflects the difference between music made among friends living together in the country and the kind squeezed out trying to beat city traffic and studio clocks.

As to who we are: there’s Willie and the Bumblebees, who keep themselves and their reputation alive playing every weekend in a Minneapolis bar. Freebo is from Philadelphia and played with Edison Electric before traveling with me. I’m from Cambridge, as is Peter Bell, a fine singer and songwriter as well as guitarist (nice hambones too).

The two special additions were Junior Wells and A.C. Reed, who drove up from Chicago to see if I was really going to do this after all, and maybe slip in a little fishing on the side. Junior’s versatility and class never cease to amaze me. A.C., who sings even better than his brother, Jimmy, plays with Junior and Buddy Guy and has gone nameless on so many Chicago sessions it’s about time he stepped out for the credit he’s due.

The actual recording was handled by Dave and Sylvia Ray – the same Dave Ray of the Koerner Ray and Glover records I grew up on. They recently started their own studio where people like the Bumblebees, John Koerner, Peter Bell and Dave will also be recording with this kind of live approach in mind.

My special thanks go to Joyce and my brother, Steve, who somehow held this conglomeration together and always made us smile

– Bonnie Raitt

Christgau Review

A singer-guitarist (and occasional composer) who renders all the Collins/Baez melodrama superfluous. Raitt is a folkie by history but not by aesthetic. She includes songs from Steve Stills, the Marvelettes, and a classic feminist blues singer named Sippie Wallace because she knows the world doesn’t end with acoustic song-poems and Fred McDowell. An adult repertoire that rocks with a steady roll, and she’s all of twenty-one years old. A-