Sunday, 29 May 2016

"Give It Up" by BONNIE RAITT (2002 Warner Brothers 'Remasters' CD) - A Review by Mark Barry...





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"...Love Has No Pride..." 

Bonnie's second Warner Brothers platter "Give It Up" from the winter of 1972 cemented the reputation and career opener of "Bonnie Raitt" in 1971 - another great Blues Rock album played by a woman steeped in the traditions of American R&B and ably supported by a gang of likeminded quality musicians. And for "Give It Up" - the Burbank Blues woman threw in three songs of her own amidst the cleverly chosen covers. Here are the ladylike details...

UK released March 2002 – "Give It Up" by BONNIE RAITT on Warner Brothers 8122-78378-2 (Barcode 081227837822) is a straightforward Remaster of the album and plays out as follows (36:57 minutes):

1. Give It Up Or Let Me Go
2. Nothing Seems To Matter
3. I Know
4. If You Gotta Make A Fool Somebody
5. Love Me Like A Man
6. Two Long At The Fair [Side 2]
7. Under The Falling Sky
8. You Got To Know How
9. You Told Me Baby
10. Love Has No Pride
Tracks 1 to 10 are her second studio album "Give It Up" - released October 1972 in the USA on Warner Brothers BS 2643 and November 1972 in the UK on Warner Brothers K 46189. Produced by MICHAEL CUSCUNA - it peaked at No. 138 on the US album charts.

The 8-page inlay gives song-by-song breakdowns, photos of the ensemble musicians and some liner notes on the players by producer MICHAEL CUSCANA (as well as reissue credits). There's a 'Digitally Remastered' logo sticker on the jewel case and a silver inlay that says the same. GREGG GELLER has co-ordinated the Warner Remasters Series with TERESA CAFFIN and ED CHERNEY carrying out the transfers and remasters. They've done a fab job. This CD sounds fantastic – a transfer that's brought out the original production values with aplomb. Fans are going to love it.

It opens on the barnstorming and decidedly jolly (for a mean song) "Give It Up Or Let Me Go" where our Bonnie warns her potential suitor that if he wants he's... The ragtime Bluesy tune benefits from her giving it some National Steel bottleneck while John Payne, Peter Eckland, Amos Garrett and Freebo do the honours on Saxophone, Cornet, Trombone and Tuba. It's followed by the gorgeous "Nothing Seems To Matter" (without you) - a ballad with Dave Holland on Double Bass and John Payne on Saxophone (of "Astral Weeks" fame) both adding a huge amount of ambience to the song. Both opening tracks are singing with the Remaster too. New Orleans songwriter and R&B singer Barbara George enjoyed a No. 3 Pop placing with her own "I Know" on the obscure A.F.O. Records 302 way back December 1961 - Bonnie keeps it Orleans and does some fantastic National Steel while Marc Jordan plays funky piano and John Hall (later with Orleans) and British Apple singing Jackie Lomax provide backing vocals). The goodies just keep on coming with a wickedly good cover of James Ray's "If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody" (written by Rudy Clark) - a No. 22 Pop hit Washington DC singer way back in December 1961 on Caprice Records 110. 

A perfect Side 1 ends on another winner - a Chris Smither Blues boogie and probably many people's fave track on the album - "Love Me Like A Man". I loved Smither's CD album "Drive You Home Again" from 1999 on Hightone Records (check it out if you can) and fell for his huge voice and sly way with a lyric. They’re songwriting/musical connection stretches way past 1972 though. Raitt does a duet with him on a haunting cover of Bob Dylan's "Desolation Row" on Smither's "Train Home" CD album from 2003 – fantastic stuff. Back to 1972 - on "Love Me Like A Man" it's like Smither has tapped into her zeitgeist - the swagger and sexiness of the woman mixed with a need for a pair of strong arms and not flapping jaws ("...a man who take me home instead of taking me for a ride..."). And she plays great slide on it too - superb stuff.

Side 2 changes mood big time and offers us "Too Long At The Fair" by Joel Zoss - a forlorn tired song with John Hall giving it some superb Lead Electric Guitar. None other than Jackson Browne penned the driving boogie of "Under The Falling Sky" which features Paul Butterfield on Harmonica and Tim Moore on Backing Vocals (very cool little tune and the remaster rocks). "You Got To Know How" is an old Sippie Wallace song with additional lyrics from Jack Viertel - Van Morrison's blower John Payne giving it some ragtime clarinet throughout. Bonnie's own "You Told Me Baby" is original number three - an excellent song that's a bit marred by too many instruments fighting for supremacy (horn arrangements by Eric Kaz). Libby Titus and Eric Kaz wrote the touching closer "Love Has No Pride" where Bonnie sings with conviction - "...love has no pride...when I call out your name...I'd give anything...to see you again..." She also plays all instruments except Freebo on the Fretless Bass.

You'd have to say that Side 2 isn't as consistently good as Side 1 - but that doesn't stop the whole album from feeling like "Give It Up" is some kind an 'overlooked' gem that begs rediscovery.

In February 2016 Bonnie released her 20th album "Dig In Deep" and already it's received a warm welcome and many rave reviews. This great American Blues Lady has been a class act for a very long time...time to respect that...

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