This is a classic case of a record that really starts to work when the levels are up. It’s so free from distortion and phony processing it wants to be played loud, and that’s the level this music works at. It’s the level it was no doubt mixed at, and that mix sounds pretty flat at moderate levels. If you want to hear the real rockin’ Bonnie Raitt you gots to turn it up!
Like a lot of the best recordings from the mid-’70s, the production and recording quality are clean and clear, and we mean that in a good way. There is very little processing to the sound of anything here; drums sound like drums, guitars like guitars, and Bonnie sings without the aid of autotuning –– because she can sing on-key, and beautifully. Her vocals kill on every song. (Her dad had a pretty good set of pipes too.)
Her Best Material
What sets this album apart from others made around this period is the strength of the material. Every song on side one would fit nicely on a greatest hits album, they’re that good. The reason side one has always been a personal favorite is that it ends with the best track on the album, maybe the best song Bonnie ever sang, the excruciatingly heartfelt ballad, My First Night Alone Without You. If that one doesn’t hit you hard, something somewhere is very wrong.
More Hot Stamper Commentary from 2008
This original WB Palm Tree label LP has THE BEST SIDE ONE we have ever heard here at Better Records. “A Triple Plus” sound means you’re probably hearing the album better than they did when they played back the master tape in the control room. (Studio monitors being what they are.) Since this is one of my three favorite Bonnie Raitt albums — the others being Sweet Forgiveness and Nine Lives — and quite possibly the best sounding album she ever made, it goes without saying that this is THE Must Own Bonnie Raitt Hot Stamper Pressing of All Time.
Nine Lives? Luck of the Draw?
What about the Capitol albums she recorded with Don Was?
Man, they sure don’t sound like this! That stuff is way too digital, overly-processed and modern sounding for my taste, not to mention my delicate hearing.
The first two she did for Capitol are fine albums in their own right, but she was already out of gas by the time she got accepted by the record buying public and the Grammy Award committee. That was 1989; this album is from 1975 when she still had her groove on. You may gain a lot of wisdom as you age from thirty-six to fifty, but you don’t gain a lot of rock and roll energy (or any other kind, for that matter).
The Big Sound
This a big production, with horns and strings and lots of wonderful sounding instruments thrown into the mix such as tubas, mandolins and autoharps to name just a few. Getting all these sounds onto the vinyl of the day is a tough challenge, but some copies had the goods, and this is one of them.