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Rock - Released January 1, 2005 | Capitol Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Prior to Nick of Time, Bonnie Raitt had been a reliable cult artist, delivering a string of solid records that were moderate successes and usually musically satisfying. From her 1971 debut through 1982's Green Light, she had a solid streak, but 1986's Nine Lives snapped it, falling far short of her usual potential. Therefore, it shouldn't have been a surprise when Raitt decided to craft its follow-up as a major comeback, collaborating with producer Don Was on Nick of Time. At the time, the pairing seemed a little odd, since he was primarily known for the weird hipster funk of Was (Not Was), but the match turned out to be inspired. Was used Raitt's classic early-'70s records as a blueprint, choosing to update the sound with a smooth, professional production and a batch of excellent contemporary songs. In this context, Raitt flourishes; she never rocks too hard, but there is grit to her singing and playing, even when the surfaces are clean and inviting. And while she only has two original songs here, Nick of Time plays like autobiography, which is a testament to the power of the songs, performances, and productions. It was a great comeback album that made for a great story, but the record never would have been a blockbuster success if it wasn't for the music, which is among the finest Raitt ever made. She must have realized this, since Nick of Time served as the blueprint for the majority of her '90s albums. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released February 26, 2016 | Redwing Records

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Pop - Released January 1, 1991 | Capitol Records

Nick of Time not only was an artistic comeback for Bonnie Raitt; it brought her largest audience yet, so there was no reason to mess with success for its sequel, Luck of the Draw. And sequel is the appropriate word, since Luck of the Draw is nothing if it isn't Nick of Time, Pt. 2. True, there's a heavier reliance on original material this time around, but the sound and feel of the record is identical to its predecessor. There is one slight difference -- several of the songs appear tailor-made for crossover success, whereas Nick of Time felt organic. Nevertheless, Luck of the Draw is an unqualified success, filled with strong songs -- including the hits "Something to Talk About" and "I Can't Make You Love Me," plus the Delbert McClinton duet "Good Man, Good Woman" -- appealing productions, and just enough dirt to make old-school fans feel at home. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released April 10, 2012 | Redwing Records

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Rock - Released March 5, 2002 | Rhino - Warner Records

Bonnie Raitt may have switched producers for her second album Give It Up, hiring Michael Cuscuna, but she hasn't switched her style, sticking with the thoroughly engaging blend of folk, blues, R&B, and Californian soft rock. If anything, she's strengthened her formula here, making the divisions between the genres nearly indistinguishable. Take the title track, for instance. It opens with a bluesy acoustic guitar before kicking into a New Orleans brass band about halfway through -- and the great thing about it is that Raitt makes the switch sound natural, even inevitable, never forced. And that's just the tip of the iceberg here, since Give It Up is filled with great songs, delivered in familiar, yet always surprising, ways by Raitt and her skilled band. For those that want to pigeonhole her as a white blues singer, she delivers the lovely "Nothing Seems to Matter," a gentle mid-tempo number that's as mellow as Linda Ronstadt and far more seductive. That's the key to Give It Up: Yes, Raitt can be earthy and sexy, but she balances it with an inviting sensuality that makes the record glow. It's all delivered in a fantastic set of originals and covers performed so naturally it's hard to tell them apart and roots music so thoroughly fused that it all sounds original, even when it's possible to spot the individual elements or influences. Raitt would go on to greater chart successes, but she not only had trouble topping this record, generations of singers, from Sheryl Crow to Shelby Lynne, have used this as a touchstone. One of the great Southern California records. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Country - Released January 1, 2003 | Capitol Records

The Best of Bonnie Raitt on Capitol 1989-2003, its 18 tracks handpicked by the artist herself as a portrait of her renaissance years, are indicative of the high-quality work ethic she has imposed on herself. Sometimes these songs reveal the queen doing a definitive read, such as on John Hiatt's "Lovers Will" (a song that deserves far, far more than it got -- the ache in her voice is the real grain of somebody who has been on both sides of love's hot broken arrow and still has faith enough to sing) or "Thing Called Love." Sometimes she's bringing the songs of Paul Brady ("Not the Only One"), Bonnie Hayes ("Love Letter" and "Have a Heart"), or even David Gray ("Silver Lining") and Richard Thompson ("Dimming of the Day") to the masses in ways that define them for a different audience. And sometimes, it's simply Raitt playing her own songs ("Nick of Time" and "Spit of Love") full of a poetic, sensual ferocity that oozes tenderness and commitment. And throughout it all is her trademark bottleneck slide, coaxing love notes or razored snarls out of her Stratocaster. There aren't any unreleased tracks here, but for the money you get the best of the best and her own comments on each song as well as a short essay about what this music means to her. Given that you don't have that box set (yet), that means this is worth whatever you happen to pay for it -- but don't forget about getting some of those Warner albums (Give It Up is a great place to start). Here is the astonishing range, from deep blue-eyed bluesy soul, sheeny reggae-tinged pop, and adult rock & roll that moves and inspires anyone with an open mind. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1994 | Capitol Records

On the follow-up to the follow-up (and another million-selling number one hit), Bonnie Raitt contributes more than her usual share of original songs, writing four songs herself and setting a lyric of her husband's to music for a fifth. Elsewhere, she draws on such strong writers as Richard Thompson and Paul Brady, all for a collection devoted to devotion. Song after song expresses passion, usually with happy results -- this is not the album of a woman with the blues. Even when she's dressing down a parent in her own "Circle Dance," Raitt offers forgiveness and understanding. There, and in other songs, the object of her emotions rarely seems to be perfect, but she takes that in and loves him, anyway. Co-producer Don Was provides a detailed production in which single elements -- an accordion, a harmony vocal by Levon Helm or David Crosby -- effectively color arrangements and complement Raitt's always soulful singing. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1995 | Capitol Records

In a 24-year recording career, Bonnie Raitt had not previously released a live album, so this concert set was overdue. Coming off three multi-platinum studio albums, Raitt and Capitol pulled out all the stops, compiling a 22-track, double-disc package from dates recorded in July 1995 in Portland and Oakland. Raitt ranged over her career, reaching back to her early folk-blues days and forward to the pop/rock songs that finally made her a big star in the late '80s and early '90s. She also shared the spotlight with such guests as Bruce Hornsby, Ruth Brown, Charles Brown, Kim Wilson of the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Bryan Adams, and Jackson Browne. But that didn't keep an artist who has spent the bulk of her career pleasing live audiences rather than cutting hits from displaying her personal warmth along with her singing and playing skills. She also introduced half a dozen songs new to her repertoire, including a surprising cover of Talking Heads' "Burning Down the House" and a few that had potential to help promote the album as singles, including "Never Make Your Move Too Soon" and "Shake a Little." Inexplicably, Capitol (which probably wished the album had been a more reasonably priced single disc) failed to bring the record home to consumers. The company's choice for a single was the anonymous Adams rocker "Rock Steady," done as a duet with him -- apparently, they were confusing Raitt with Tina Turner. As a result, the album stopped at gold, spending less than six months in the charts. Despite that commercial disappointment, it will be for many Bonnie Raitt fans an example of her at her best that effectively bridges the two parts of her career, and also a good sampler for first-time listeners. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Pop - Released August 2, 2005 | Rhino - Warner Records

Since Bonnie Raitt didn't score any big hits during her nine-album tenure at Warner Bros., compiling a best-of from those records is largely a matter of taste, and after Raitt's commercial breakthrough on Capitol with Nick of Time in 1989, Warners decided to trust her own taste in choosing songs for this compilation. The artist's input is usually considered a good thing, but in this case it has resulted in an idiosyncratic selection that fails to be representative or to cull the real highlights from Raitt's Warners catalog. Basically, that catalog breaks down into three sections -- the first three solid albums, the second three good but uneven albums, and the last three mediocre, compromised albums. Raitt has opted to try to find at least a couple of tracks from each album, which means she necessarily slights her best work in favor of her weakest. Even by choosing four tracks from Give It Up, she still misses "Been Too Long at the Fair," and by restricting herself to two tracks from Takin My Time, she misses "Cry Like a Rainstorm" and "I Gave My Love a Candle." On later albums, the problem is more about selection than quantity. Why "Sugar Mama" from Home Plate and not "Run Like a Thief" and "I'm Blowin' Away"? Why "(Goin') Wild for You Baby" from The Glow and not the Grammy-nominated "You're Gonna Get What's Coming"? Why "Willya Wontcha" from Green Light and not "Me and the Boys"? Even taking into account differences in taste, Raitt's choices run in the face of the preferences of fans and critics to the point that the album fails to make the case for her Warners recordings as true expressions of her talents, a case that could have been made decisively with a better selection. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Pop - Released June 17, 2016 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Pop - Released October 16, 2001 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Rock - Released January 1, 2005 | Capitol Records

Souls Alike is the first album in Bonnie Raitt's 18-disc catalog to bear her own name as producer with some assistance from Tchad Blake. It is also the first album in her career absent a 12-bar blues. Gone are the big washes of sound that Don Was added to her Grammy-winning recordings, and the sound Raitt has chosen for herself is a bit edgier, far more adventurous than Silver Lining, her last studio offering produced by Blake. Guitars -- courtesy of the artist and George Marinelli -- dominate, and are accented by Jon Cleary's Hammond B3, which paints the entire proceeding with a solid, somewhat funky yet outsider soul feel. Raitt keeps everything close to the vest this time out. Her road band and a handful of guests who include Mitchell Froom, Maia Sharp, David Batteau, and Sweet Pea Atkinson carried this project to fruition. What's most remarkable about Souls Alike is its songs and their focus on broken love, acceptance of responsibility, and the willingness to transcend. Cleary, Sharp, and Batteau wrote a number of tracks, as did John Capek, who provides drum loops on some cuts. It's all in the family for the most part. The songs themselves reflect on self-determination (the gorgeous title cut) in Raitt's trademark rock ballad style, Randall Bramblett's greasy, dark and slinky "God Was in the Water," the angular, ultra-modern "Crooked Crown," the grimy New Orleans second-line groove of Cleary's "Unnecessary Mercenary" with a killer slide break by Raitt and an off-the-rails piano by Cleary. Then there's the near-trip-hop of "Deep Water," a deeply sensual tune that is a shock on first listen but infectious thereafter. "The Bed I Made," by Sharp and Batteau is the album's closer. With a shimmery loop and Raitt's finest vocal on the set, it's a faux jazz-ballad that is unsettling, full of bittersweet regret and the willingness to embrace the face in the mirror and the mistakes as a way of moving through pain. It's a rather unsettling way to end an album, but then, this entire disc is brave and sharp. It marks a new turn for Raitt and offers her and her fans an entirely new road to go down -- this one deep into the heart. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Pop - Released March 5, 2002 | Rhino - Warner Records

This album is an overlooked gem in the catalog of Bonnie Raitt. On Takin' My Time, she wears her influences proudly in an eclectic musical mix containing blues, jazz, folk, New Orleans R&B, and calypso. Although she did not write her own material for this album, she demonstrates an excellent ear for songs and chooses material from some of the best songwriters of the day. She is a great interpreter, and her renditions of Jackson Browne's "I Thought I Was a Child" and Randy Newman's "Guilty" from this album are the definitive versions of these songs. The highlights of this album are the romantic ballads "I Gave My Love a Candle" and "Cry Like a Rainstorm," where Raitt adds an emotional depth to the performance unusual for such a young woman. (Perhaps that's a result of her spending time with elder statesmen of the blues community such as Mississippi Fred McDowell and Sippie Wallace.) Although the faster-paced songs like the calypso "Wah She Go Do" seem a little out of place, the playful tune is welcome among an album filled with the heartache of the slower tunes. Despite being a relative newcomer, Raitt had already earned the respect of her mentors and her peers, as evidenced by the musical contributions of Taj Mahal, and Little Feat members Lowell George and Bill Payne on the album. This is the last consistent album she would make until her comeback in the mid-'80s. © Vik Iyengar /TiVo
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Blues - Released February 2, 1972 | Cult Legends

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Rock - Released October 16, 2001 | Rhino - Warner Records

The astounding thing about Bonnie Raitt's blues album isn't that it's the work of a preternaturally gifted blues woman, it's that Raitt doesn't choose to stick to the blues. She's decided to blend her love of classic folk blues with folk music, including new folk-rock tunes, along with a slight R&B, New Orleans, and jazz bent and a mellow Californian vibe. Surely, Bonnie Raitt is a record of its times, as much as Jackson Browne's first album is, but with this, she not only sketches out the blueprint for her future recordings, but for the roots music that would later be labeled as Americana. The reason that Bonnie Raitt works is that she is such a warm, subtle singer. She never oversells these songs, she lays back and sings them with heart and wonderfully textured reading. Her singing is complemented by her band, who is equally as warm, relaxed, and engaging. This is music that goes down so easy, it's only on the subsequent plays that you realize how fully realized and textured it is. A terrific debut that has only grown in stature since its release. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released October 16, 2001 | Rhino - Warner Records

Since Home Plate brought Bonnie Raitt within shooting distance of the Top 40, thereby being the greatest chart success she yet attained, it made sense that she re-teamed with its producer Paul A. Rothchild for its follow-up, Sweet Forgiveness. Rothchild's modus operandi remains slickness, but he has backed away from his fondness for studio musicians, letting Raitt record the majority of the record with her touring band (who only were spotted occasionally throughout Homeplate). All this means is that the near-hit "Runaway" is almost a ringer, largely because it's a poor choice for Raitt's sweetly funky Californian rock that was obviously designed as a bid for a single, therefore it was slicked up more than the rest of the record (which remains slick, but not glossy). Sweet Forgiveness is actually looser than Homeplate, a little less constrained. Then why isn't it quite as successful, artistically? That comes down to a selection of songs that aren't quite as effective as those Raitt usually picks -- and, in that sense, "Runaway" was a good indicator of the album. However, the selection of material isn't bad. If the tunes don't happen to form into a whole, it's still filled with great moments, from Earl Randall's opener "About to Make Me Leave Home" to Karla Bonoff's closer "Home." Sweet Forgiveness may not be one of Raitt's unqualified successes (despite its hit status), it's still a solid record, one that's hard to deny if you're already a Raitt fan. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2002 | Capitol Records

With her road band laying the groundwork and with production responsibilities reverted primarily to her own hands, Raitt delivers varied and vivid performances throughout Silver Lining. Jon Cleary, an addition to the lineup, plays the pivotal role; his piano drives the steaming New Orleans groove on "Fool's Game," the posturing street funk of "Monkey Business," and the dusty blues tread on the acoustic-textured "No Gettin' Over You." The material, culled from American and African songwriters, along with a few Raitt originals, lends itself more to vocal interpretation than to straight-ahead blowing. Raitt's singing has never been more finely tuned, especially on the introspective title cut and on the final track, "Wounded Heart," a breathtaking duet recorded in one take with keyboardist Benmont Tench; after nailing it, Raitt reportedly fled the studio, moved to tears; any second attempt proved both undoable and unnecessary. On these performances Raitt exceeds her own standards for interpreting a lyric without compromise to her full-throated timbre. To balance these reflective moments, there are plenty of hotter ones; these also focus on the vocal, but with some exceptional guitar accompaniment as well, including Steve Cropper's licks on the low-key, Memphis-flavored "Time of Our Lives" and the greasy rhythms that push the band throughout "Gnawin' on It." Incendiary slide guitar work heats up parts of that track and several others, with another slide legend, Roy Rogers, joining in on the lascivious "Gnawin' on It." Still, Silver Lining is ultimately a showcase for exceptional singing and riveting backup work. It is also a likely milestone in Raitt's ongoing transition from blues guitar whiz to an artist of wider focus. The fires of her youth still blaze, though now they illuminate a more complex weave of techniques and a much greater depth of emotion. © Robert L. Doerschuk /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1998 | Capitol Records

Apparently in an attempt to find new sounds that would appeal to a new audience, Bonnie Raitt severed her ties with her comeback producer, Don Was, for Fundamental, hiring those masterminds of experimental adult pop, Mitchell Froom and Tchad Blake. Although Froom and Blake have worked with a number of singer/songwriters and roots musicians -- including Elvis Costello, Suzanne Vega, Richard Thompson, Los Lobos, and Crowded House -- they often emphasize the production over the song, pouring on layers of effects and novelty instruments that tend to obscure the songs and performances. While they don't go overboard on Fundamental like they did on Los Lobos' Colossal Head, they have pushed too much of their own style on Raitt. There are good songs scattered throughout the record, but it's hard to pick them out underneath the gauzy, murky production. Eventually, the album becomes a bit of a chore, since the sounds wear on the ears. That's too bad, because Raitt remains a vital artist -- it's just that Froom and Blake haven't allowed her to rely on her talents here. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released March 5, 2002 | Rhino - Warner Records

Homeplate takes Bonnie Raitt even further down the path toward mainstream production than the unjustly maligned Streetlights, but, ironically, it works better than its predecessor. Perhaps that's because producer Paul A. Rothchild has helped Raitt craft a record that's unapologetically pitched at the mainstream, where Streetlights often seemed to be torn between two worlds. The great thing about that is, regardless of the production, the essentials of Raitt's music have not changed. It remains a wonderful hybrid of American music, built on a thoroughly impressive set of songs, all delivered with Raitt's warm, expertly shaded, and undeniably sexy singing. She's such an accomplished singer, she sells these songs through productions that are much slicker than those that graced her earlier records, plus with a supporting crew of studio musicians. This production will undoubtedly dismay listeners that just like the earthiness of Give It Up, but Homeplate is still a success because, even though the recording is glossier, Raitt and her music remain the same and, if you're looking for that, it's still irresistible. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 2006 | Capitol Records

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