Saturday, 22 December 2018

Bonnie Raitt - Streetlights (1974)

That song about the midway....


Released September 1974

Recorded in New York City

This was Bonnie Raitt's fourth album, and was, like its predecessors, a comparative commercial failure. Her record company had asked her to tone down the blues and become more folk/rock acoustic in style, so, there is none of the guitar-toting blues rock that she became well-known for and successful with in the late eighties/early nineties. It is an AOR rock, but often laid-back album on the whole. It was looking for the crossover to the rock mainstream and didn't quite get there, at least commercially. It does, however, have a more muscular, much better-sounding backing to the somewhat starker backing of the earlier albums (certainly from the first two, if not the third). It has a soulful feel in places too. Many musicians and strings and horns are used. The credits are endless. In many ways, it has to be said, it is a most mature, impressive album. She also looked more mature on the cover, less of the coy, country girl more of the sassy woman who knew what she was doing.


1. That Song About The Midway
2. Rainy Day Man
3. Angel From Montgomery
4. I Got Plenty
5. Streetlights
6. What Is Success
7. Ain't Nobody Home
8. Everything That Touches You
9. Got You On My Mind
10. You Got To Be Ready For Love                        

Joni Mitchell's That Song About The Midway is evocative and acoustically beautiful. Rainy Day Man is ever so slightly bluesy, with a solid drum and guitar backing, but it is still tender and relaxed in tone. Angel From Montgomery is an Eagles-ish slow tempo Americana-style country rock ballad. She still plays the song in concert many years later, so not all the material on here has been forgotten. The same goes for Rainy Day Man. I Got Plenty is a brass-backed, confident slice of bluesy rock that still retains her sassy sexiness of previous albums. Streetlights is another big-production slow tempo rock ballad of the sort Judie Tzuke and Fleetwood Mac would be in subsequent years. Bonnie's voice is excellent on this one.

What Is Success, an Allen Toussaint song, is given a Stax-ish, slightly funky soulful backing. It is one of the best cuts on the albums. It shows that Raitt could handle soul vocals with ease. Ain't Nobody Home also has a horn-driven soul vibe to it. It is another impressive track that makes you wonder why this album didn't do well. Everything That Touches You has a sumptuous bass line and a beautiful laid-back feeling. Fleetwood Mac must have listened to this. They did so much material just like this a few years later. Got You On My Mind is a delicious slice of airy, country rock. The album closes with the Philadelphia soul-sounding, upbeat tones of You Got To Be Ready For Love, which sounds as if it should have been sung by Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes. It is another convincing number from an album which is actually quite underrated. Although it is not as good an album as its predecessor, Takin' My Time, it has its good points which deserve a listen.


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