Top Artists – Bonnie Raitt

Bonnie Raitt – Nick Of Time – Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2009

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

This Minty Capitol LP has an UNBELIEVABLE White Hot Stamper As Good As It Gets (AGAIG) Side Two backed by a Side One that was nearly its equal! The original grade for side one was in fact A+++, but after hearing a copy that was even better we had to lower the grade to A Double Plus. Hey, that’s how we roll here at Better Records. Side one will blow your mind, but if we hear something better, we lower the grade on the nearly White Hot copy, no matter how good it is. 

We expect that, as good as side one is, when you drop the needle on side two you will hear EVEN BETTER sound.

Prepare to have your mind blown, because this album sure sounds a whole lot better than I remember it. And that’s a good thing. I have a new respect for this album (along with Don Was’ somewhat heavy-handed production).

Both sides are POWERFULLY BIG AND BOLD, with meaty, deep bass (such a big part of the rockers here, Thing Called Love being a prime example) and the sweetest, richest, most ANALOG sound we’ve heard from any record Don Was has been involved with. When you hear it like this — something probably pretty close to what he heard during the control room playback for the final mix — it actually makes sense. It works. It’s not exactly “natural”, but natural is not what they were going for, now is it?

Missing Too Much

The no-longer-surprising thing about these Hot Stamper pressings is how completely they MURDER the DCC LP. Folks, it’s really no contest. Yes, the DCC is tonally balanced and can sound very good, but it can’t compete with the best original pressings. It’s missing too much of the presence, intimacy, immediacy and transparency that we’ve discovered on these hot copies.

Like practically every Heavy Vinyl record pressed at RTI, there is a suffocating loss of ambience throughout, a kind of sterility to the sound. These remastered records just do not BREATHE like the real thing. Good EQ or Bad EQ, they all suffer to one degree or another from a kind of audio enervation. Where is the life of the music? You can turn up the volume on these remastered LPs all you want but they just never seem to want to come to life. We play albums like this VERY LOUD. I’ve seen Bonnie Raitt live a number of times and although I can’t begin to get her to play as loud in my livingroom as she did on stage, I can try. To do less is to do her a great disservice. (more…)

Bonnie Raitt – Nine Lives – An Early Shootout Winning Copy of Her Underrated Album from 1986

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I did a little shootout today (7/3/06) with a few copies of this album and this one was CLEARLY SUPERIOR. The others were a bit smeared and thick sounding. This copy has the LIFE of the recording preserved in the grooves. With George Massenburg involved, there’s no way this record could sound “natural”. This copy does sound the way it’s supposed to and that’s the most we can hope for. If you have an aggressive or thin sounding stereo this is not the record for you.  

Side One COOKS from start to finish, with some of her best work — far better (IMHO) than anything she did for Capitol.

Of course the rest of the world disagreed with me about that, as after this album the label dropped her, and her first album for Capitol outsold all the records she ever made put together. But that’s sales. I’m talking about musical quality. Her Capitol albums are much too mellow for my taste. I discovered Bonnie with Home Plate and saw her live numerous times, where she proved she can rock with the best of them (like on this album).

Mellow isn’t the Bonnie I like. If you want an album with more energy, try this one. If you want something to play in the background while you sip wine and engage in polite conversation, both the DCC titles are perfect for that.

Actually that’s not fair: they have much to offer the serious listener whose tastes run more to Norah Jonesy middle of the road fare. I like that kind of material too, but Bonnie Raitt can do both, and I prefer her this way.

Two of her best songs ever are on this album: the rocker “Who But a Fool (Thief Into Paradise)” and the ballad “Angel”, with some of the best slide guitar she ever played while the tape was running. If you don’t like those two songs, send this record back to me and I’ll give you your money back. (more…)

Bonnie Raitt – Streetlights – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

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Streetlights

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

Our first Hot Stamper shootout for Bonnie Raitt’s classic fourth album yielded a surprisingly good copy, this one, with practically unbeatable (nearly) White Hot Stamper sound on side two, backed with a Super Hot side one that easily put most of the other copies we played to shame. The first three songs on side one — That Song About the Midway, Rainy Day Man, Angel from Montgomery — represent some of the strongest material Bonnie ever got to work with, and they alone would serve to qualify this as a Must Own Bonnie Raitt album.  (more…)

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. (more…)

Bonnie Raitt – Home Plate – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

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

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.

What about the Capitol albums she recorded with Don Was? (more…)

Various Artists – A Tribute To Steve Goodman (2 LPs)

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

This is a famous record here at Better Records. I’ve been raving about this album for close to 15 years. There was a time when albums like this could be found sealed in my catalog for $15 or $20. Those were the days.  

This All-Star tribute to Steve Goodman has some wonderful music on it. The high point for me is the duet between Bonnie Rait and John Prine on Angel From Montgomery. It’s one of my favorite Bonnie Rait songs, and hearing it live with John Prine singing takes it to another level. It’s followed by John Prine singing My Old Man, which is also a classic. (more…)

Bonnie Raitt – The Glow – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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The Glow

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

After a nearly two year hiatus, finally, a Top Copy makes it to the site. Side one here is nearly White Hot (A++ to A+++), which means it finished just a half step behind our shootout winner. It’s got that big, rich, solid ANALOG Val Garay (James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt) sound that we go crazy for here at Better Records (where the records are still made from analog tapes, even if it’s only because there aren’t any other kind to make them from!).

And side two is nearly as good, earning Two big Pluses for itself for Bonnie’s-in-the-room-with-you presence and huge Disappearing-Speaker-Effect presentation. It may not have all the space within the soundstage as the best we played. but it’s as wide and as tall as any. Either way, it certainly is impressive. On big speakers, you are there.

The Glow’s best material can be found in the deeper cuts — I would point potential listeners in the direction of Your Good Thing (Is About to End) on side one — with an amazing sax solo (he holds the patent in perpetuity) courtesy of David Sanborn, and (Goin’) Wild for You Baby at the end of side two. Once you get past the more radio-friendly lead-off tracks on both sides, the quality of the writing and performing improve markedly. (more…)

Bonnie Raitt – Luck of the Draw – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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Luck of the Draw

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

Here’s the first (Super) Hot Stamper copy of Luck Of The Draw to ever hit the site! What took us so long? It’s simple, most copies out there just plain don’t deliver, and for a long time we weren’t sure we’d ever have a copy that would be a clear enough winner over the DCC pressing to merit Hot Stamper status.

Well folks, it may have taken YEARS but we’ve finally found a Hot Copy — this one rates A++ on side one and A+ to A++ on side two. We think you’ll have a very hard time finding a better sounding pressing of this album no matter what you do, and of course we guarantee it will handily beat the pants off the DCC or your money back. (more…)

Bonnie Raitt – Sweet Forgiveness – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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Sweet Forgiveness

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

This White Hot Stamper side one had the kind of sound that just JUMPS out of the speakers! This side one had more of everything: more size and weight. more separation, more ambience, more vocal dynamics, more presence, more bottom end (which is unusual in that most copies of this album tends to be bass shy); in short, more LIFE. This copy, more than any other we played, showed us just how good the master tapes must be. (more…)

The Turn Up Your Volume Test – Bonnie Raitt’s Home Plate

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More Home Plate

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Another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

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.) (more…)