Monday, December 08, 2008

Bonnie Raitt - (self titled) (Warner Bros., 1971)

These days guitarist and singer Bonnie Raitt is justly venerated as a survivor and a veteran, someone who pulled herself out of self destructive behavior and went on to mega stardom, and has the Grammy Awards to prove it. But back when her career began she was a blues obsessed coffee house singer under the tutelage of her hero, Mississippi Fred McDowell. Her debut album has a little bit of everything: deep downhome blues in the covers of Sippie Wallace's "Women Be Wise" and "Mighty Tight Woman", radio friendly sensitive singer-songwriter warbling on "I Ain't Blue" and "Thank You", earthy rock 'n' roll on "Danger and Heartbreak Dead Ahead" and Buffalo Springfield's "Bluebird." But it's the deep blues that stick in my mind the most, her singing and slide guitar playing on Tommy Johnson's "Big Road" and Robert Johnson's "Walking Blues" are exquisite, and manage a neat trick of being authentic blues without overplaying or forcing the issue. I still hold out hope that one day she will make her "blues" album, playing stinging slide guitar in front of a crack band of veteran delta musicians. But until then we have this album, which proves that blues can be honest and popular without compromise.
Bonnie Raitt -

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