Monday, 1 February 2016

"Original Album Series" by BONNIE RAITT (2011 Warner Brothers/Rhino 5CD Mini Box Set) - A Review by Mark Barry...



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Although this cool 5CD mini Box Set in WEA's "Original Album Series" misses out on Bonnie Raitt's fabulous first three albums – "Bonnie Raitt" (1971), "Give It Up" (1972) and "Takin My Time" (1973) – what you do get are the five that followed from 1974 to 1982. And what a humdinger it is too – Rock, Ballad, Country, Blues and Soul – Bonnie Raitt does the lot – and well. Here are the 'Lady Sings The Blues' details...

UK released August 2011 – "Original Album Series" by BONNIE RAITT on Warner Brothers/Rhino 8122797629 (Barcode 081227976293) is a 5CD Mini Box set and plays out as follows:

Disc 1 "Streetlights" (37:03 minutes):
1. That Song About The Midway [Joni Mitchell]
2. Rainy Day Man [James Taylor]
3. Angel From Montgomery [John Prine]
4. I Got Plenty [Jim Carroll & Joey Levine]
5. Streetlights [Bill Payne]
6. What Is Success [Allen Toussaint] – Side 2
7. Ain't Nobody Home [Jerry Ragovoy]
8. Everything That Touches You [Michael Kamen]
9. Got You On My Mind [Alley Willis and David Lasley]
10. You Got To Be Ready For Love (If You Wanna Be Mine) [Lou Courtney]
Tracks 1 to 10 are her 4th album "Streetlights" – released October 1974 in the USA on Warner Brothers BS 2818 and November 1974 in the UK on Warner Brothers K 56075

Disc 2 "Home Plate" (32:25 minutes):
1. What Do You Want The Boy To Do? [Allen Toussaint]
2. Good Enough [John and Johanna Hall]
3. Run Like A Thief [J.D. Souther]
4. Fool Yourself [Fred Tackett]
5. My First Night Alone Without You [Kin Vassy]
6. Walk Out The Front Door [Mark T. Jordan and Rip Stock] - Side 2
7. Sugar Mama [Glen Clark]
8. Pleasin' Each Other [Bill Payne and Fran Tate]
9. I'm Blowin' Away [Eric Kaz]
10. Sweet And Shiny Eyes [Nan O'Byrne]
Tracks 1 to 10 are her 5th album "Home Plate" – released October 1975 on Warner Brothers BS 2864 and December 1975 in the UK on Warner Brothers K 56160

Disc 3 "Sweet Forgiveness" (38:12 minutes):
1. About To Make Me Leave Home [Earl Randall]
2. Runaway [Del Shannon]
3. Two Lives [Mark Jordan]
4. Louise [Paul Siebel]
5. Gamblin' Man [Eric Kaz]
6. Sweet Forgiveness [Daniel Moore] – Side 2
7. My Opening Farewell [Jackson Browne]
8. Three Time Loser [Don Covay]
9. Takin' My Time [Bill Payne]
10. Home [Karla Bonoff]
Tracks 1 to 10 are her 6th album "Sweet Forgiveness" – released April 1977 in the USA on Warner Brothers BS 2990 and in the UK on Warner Brothers K 56323.

Disc 4 "The Glow" (37:39 minutes):
1. I Thank You [Isaac Hayes & David Porter song, Sam & Dave cover]
2. Your Good Thing (Is About To End) [Isaac Hayes and David Porter song, Mable John cover]
3. Standin' By The Same Old Love [Bonnie Raitt]
4. Sleep's Dark And Silent Gate [Jackson Browne]
5. The Glow [Veyler Hildebrand]
6. Bye Bye Baby [Mary Wells] – Side 2
7. The Boy Can't Help It [Bobby Troup song, Little Richard cover]
8. (I Could Have Been Your) Best Old Friend [Tracy Nelson]
9. You're Gonna Get What's Coming [Robert Palmer]
10. (Goin') Wild For You Baby [David Batteau, Tom Snow]
Tracks 1 to 10 are her 7th album "The Glow" – released October 1979 in the USA on Warner Brothers HS 3369 and in the UK on Warner Brothers K 56706

Disc 5 "Green Light" (35:06 minutes):
1. Keep This Heart Of Mine In Mind [Fred Marrone, Steve Holsapple]
2. River Of Tears [Eric Kaz]
3. Can't Get Enough [Bonnie Raitt, Walt Richmond]
4. Wilya Wontcha [Johnny Lee Schell]
5. Let's Keep It Between Us [Bob Dylan]
6. Me And The Boys [Terry Adams (of NRBQ), Dave Edmunds cover] – Side 2
7. I Can't Help Myself [Ricky Fataar, Ray O'Hara, Bonnie Raitt & Johnny Lee Schell]
8. Baby Come Back [Eddy Grant song, The Equals cover]
9. Talk To Me [Jerry Lynn Williams]
10. Green Lights [Terry Adams, Joey Spampinato (both of NRBQ)]
Tracks 1 to 10 are her 8th album "Green Light" – released March 1982 in the USA on Warner Brothers BSK 3630 and in the UK on Warner Brothers K 56980

Most will know that these boxes come with single sleeve 5" card repros – back and front artwork of the original American LP with details you can't read even with a magnifying glass. It looks cute for sure but there's no booklet so I've provided track-by-track songwriting credits above. It looks like most are the 2002 and 2003 Gregg Geller Remasters – sounding funky and spunky in all the right places (some of these have become difficult to find as individual titles so this box set represents great value for money).

After three pretty straightforward Blues-Rock LPs – 1974's "Streetlights" saw Bonnie in a very mellow mood. It opens with her gorgeous acoustic take on Joni Mitchell's "That Song About The Midway" singing "...I found you in a trailer in some camping ground..." and you know both Joni & Bonnie have this degenerate gambler down. I've always loved her Funky choices of songs too – the rock-slink of Allen Toussaint's "What Is Success" – a low-down groove with top session players like keyboardist Leon Pendarvis laying down licks throughout that add so much to the overall (he was once with Lonnie Liston Smith's Cosmic Echoes). Again the players add top class to Michael Kamen's "Everything That Touches You" – Jeff Minirov and John Tropea playing so sweet on those guitars. And a forgotten nugget is "Got You On My Mind" – a pretty lilting tune with Jerry Ragovoy arrangements that sound almost Burt Bacharach at times. Ace sessionman Steve Gadd on drums throughout too...

The influences of funky Little Feat ("Sugar Mama" and "Fool Yourself") and Countrified Emmylou Harris ("My First Night Without You") permeates much of "Home Plate" - and like "Streetlights" – is a decidedly commercial affair. Both Allen Toussaint's "What Do You Want The Boy To Do?" and John Hall's plucky "Good Enough" features the swing of Fred Tackett and Bill Payne from Little Feat. John Sebastian of The Lovin' Spoonful plays Autoharp on the truly lovely smoocher "Run Like A Thief" – a quality John David Souther song that layers on the heartbreak with an astonishing quartet of backing singers - Jackson Browne, J.D. Souther, Rosemary Butler and England’s Terry Reid. And not for the first time does she reach for the songwriting talent of Eric Kaz who offers "I'm Blowin' Away". The almost drunken "Sweet And Shiny Eyes" once again features a properly stellar set of pipes in the background - Emmylou Harris, J.D. Souther, Jackson Browne and Tom Waits...

After two albums of mopey lovelorn – the Paul A. Rothchild produced "Sweet Forgiveness" from 1977 comes as a Funky Rocking relief (and the Audio Remaster is stunning too). Her wickedly good Slide Guitar leads off the nasty "About To Make Me Leave Home" where it sounds like she's literally channelling Lowell George (Bill Payne of Little Feat is in there too on the keys). Her boogied-up cover of Del Shannon's "Runaway" has annoyed and thrilled purists – I can understand why but I still like it. Michael McDonald and Rosemary Butler provide their sweet-as-a-nut backing vocals but its Norton Buffalo's wicked Harmonica warble that saves it. Mark Jordan's emotional and touching love song "Two Lives" is an album highlight – once again McDonald and Butler floating in over the pain. Her cover of Paul Siebel's "Louise" reminds you of what a great song it is and what a criminally forgotten talent he was (sent me rushing back to 1970's "Woodsmoke And Oranges" by Siebel – see my separate review). Love her rocking slide cover of Don Covay's "Three Time Loser" too (Asylum tried it as a 7" single in the UK in April 1977 with the pretty "Louise" on the flipside).  And another emerging female songwriter Karla Bonoff gets her moment with the gorgeous album finisher "Home" (beautiful Audio on this) – Bonoff being a talent Linda Ronstadt would tap too for "Someone To Lay Down Beside Me".

1979's "The Glow" opens with her updated Soul-Rock boogie of "I Thank You" – an Isaac Hayes and David Porter song that Sam & Dave made a hit on Stax in 1968. But there then follows possibly my favourite cover ever by Bonnie Raitt – "You Good Thing (Is About To End)". Again it was written by that Stax dynamic duo of Hayes & Porter - but this time the long forgotten MABLE JOHN had the song on Stax 192 in May 1966. It's a torch ballad and a brilliant choice by Bonnie – backed up by Bill Payne of Little Feat on Keyboards and a wonderful flourish of a Saxophone Solo by David Sanborn. Her own "Standin' By The Same Love" is a slider while Paul Butterfield adds his Harmonica talent to the cover of Mary Wells' "Bye Bye Baby". Smart choice is the choppy guitar Rock of Robert Palmer's "You're Gonna Get What's Comin'"...

Terry Adams and Joey Spampinato (both of NRBQ) gave Bonnie the title song to her final offering here – 1982's "Green Light" album. Terry Adams also stumped up the rocking "Me And The Boys" – a song Dave Edmunds had covered on his excellent "D.E. 7th" album on Arista Records that same year. In fact both Edmunds and Raitt released the 'boys in the band' 7" single of "Me And The Boys" in the same month (April 1982) on both sides of the pond. Bob Dylan's support of the great lady continued with the excellent Bluesy slouch of "Let's Keep It Between Us" – a song that to my knowledge has yet to turn up on a Bobster album. The song-writing team of Ricky Fataar and Johnny Lee Schell gave her "I Can't Help Myself" and "Wilya Wontcha" and were later very much instrumental in songs on her Don Was produced breakthrough album "Nick Of Time" on Capitol Records in 1989.

In truth I'd like to see Rhino do a "Complete Warner Brothers Years" 10-album CD Box Set (including 1986's "Nine Lives") for BONNIE RAITT and newly remaster the whole damn lot with a (10th) disc of rarities thrown in (what'd ya say boys). But in the meantime - at roughly two-quid per record there's a whole lotta bang for your buck here and this dinky little peach will do nicely...

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