10 Songs, 32 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Following her excursion into smoldering R&B on 1974’s Streetlights, Bonnie Raitt returned to Los Angeles and created Home Plate, an album unashamedly rooted in that city’s network of songwriters, studio players and producers. With their smooth sheen and orchestral flourishes, “Run Like a Thief,” “Fool Yourself” and “I’m Blowing Away” veer into adult contemporary territory, but between Paul Rothchild’s discreet production and Raitt’s sincerity the songs succeed. As with all of Raitt’s early albums, there are a bunch of famous friends in the mix — if you listen closely, you can hear Emmylou Harris, Terry Reid, Jackson Browne, J.D. Souther and even Tom Waits in the backing chorus. Despite the polish, Raitt’s blues roots poke through on “Sugar Mama” and “Your Sweet and Shiny Eyes,” the latter of which splits the difference between Appalachian grit and Hollywood glamour. Also of note is “What Do You Want the Boy to Do?,” a plaintive cover of Allen Toussaint’s exquisite song — Raitt’s second reading of Toussaint in two years, following her knockout cover of “What Is Success.”

EDITORS’ NOTES

Following her excursion into smoldering R&B on 1974’s Streetlights, Bonnie Raitt returned to Los Angeles and created Home Plate, an album unashamedly rooted in that city’s network of songwriters, studio players and producers. With their smooth sheen and orchestral flourishes, “Run Like a Thief,” “Fool Yourself” and “I’m Blowing Away” veer into adult contemporary territory, but between Paul Rothchild’s discreet production and Raitt’s sincerity the songs succeed. As with all of Raitt’s early albums, there are a bunch of famous friends in the mix — if you listen closely, you can hear Emmylou Harris, Terry Reid, Jackson Browne, J.D. Souther and even Tom Waits in the backing chorus. Despite the polish, Raitt’s blues roots poke through on “Sugar Mama” and “Your Sweet and Shiny Eyes,” the latter of which splits the difference between Appalachian grit and Hollywood glamour. Also of note is “What Do You Want the Boy to Do?,” a plaintive cover of Allen Toussaint’s exquisite song — Raitt’s second reading of Toussaint in two years, following her knockout cover of “What Is Success.”

TITLE TIME

About Bonnie Raitt

By the time Bonnie Raitt found worldwide success with 1989’s Nick of Time, the songwriter and master slide guitarist had already recorded 10 albums over two decades. A pioneering figure in roots rock who spent her early years apprenticing with bluesmen like Mississippi Fred McDowell, Raitt, who was born in Burbank, California, in 1949, seemed to have stepped out of an imagined past, synthesizing strains of blues, folk, rock, and country in ways that felt both effortless and fresh. She does it all on 1972’s Give It Up, which spans raucous New Orleans-style R&B (“Give It Up or Let Me Go”) and contemplative ballads (“Nothing Seems to Matter”), bare-bones blues (“Love Me Like a Man”) and string-heavy folk (“Too Long at the Fair”), with Raitt equally at home in each. She’s since left her mark on artists covering all sorts of terrain—from Susan Tedeschi and Joss Stone to Adele and Alabama Shakes frontwoman Brittany Howard. Or, as blues legend B.B. King said of Raitt’s impact in one of his last interviews: “I came up in a macho world and never thought I’d ever declare the best living slide guitarist to be a woman. Well, I’m declaring.”

HOMETOWN
Burbank, CA
GENRE
Rock
BORN
November 8, 1949

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