I first became aware of Bonnie Raitt when I saw her perform the song Have a Heart, from her Nick of Time album, on The Tonight Show:
I remember thinking something about faux reggae and “why is this person standing there holding a strat and banging on it with a tambourine?!?” Then, at about 2:20 in this video, she hangs up the tambourine, picks up a bottleneck slide and rips off a funky, slow, blues solo…
I bought Nick of Time the next day.
Since then I’ve heard plenty of her new stuff, but very little of her old. I had a chance to pick up two of her back catalog the other day, 1975s Home Plate and 1977s Sweet Forgiveness.
These are her 5th and 6th records respectively. Although none of the tracks on these records was penned by Raitt, there are some well known tunes from other writers covered; Jackson Browne, Karla Bonoff, Allen Toussaint, J.D. Souther… even a cover of the Del Shannon standard Runaway.
I knew that there was a lot of cross pollination between Bonnie Raitt and the California crowd of the era, but here you can enjoy trying to pick out a backing vocal by Tom Waits, Emmylou and Michael McDonald. These records, produced by Paul Rothchild (who produced the first several Doors records) is noticeably more “raw” than the Don Was slicker of Nick of Time.