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.
This has been around as a bootleg for some time, a great radio broadcast from February 1972 featuring mainly Bonnie with Freebo on bass but also T. J. Tindle on lead guitar and John Davis playing harp on a couple of tracks. The sound quality isn't perfect but it's pretty good and it captures Bonnie doing material from her first two albums as well as some songs that have never been officially released - Steve Winwood's 'Can't Find My Way Home', John Hurt's 'Richland Woman Blues' and her own song 'Blender Blues'. Although Bonnie sounds young (she was only 22) she also sounds very confident and relaxed, her voice is perfectly controlled and her guitar playing is particularly good on blues like Robert Johnson's 'Walking blues' and 'Richland Woman Blues'.
Bonnie Raitt enjoyed critical success and blues/folk credentials with her self-titled debut, Give It Up, and Takin' My Time. By 1975, Raitt's style began to be defined by producer Paul Rothchild. Home Plate and Sweet Forgiveness were uncomfortable overtures to commercial propositions where Raitt's persona and sense of fun got lost. Produced by Peter Asher, The Glow was released in 1979 and includes great players like Danny Kortchmar, Bill Payne, and Waddy Wachtel. During this time, sales might have been a consideration as well as Raitt's tough image. If anything, Asher accentuated Raitt's rough edges and provided his customary production polish. Like many Asher productions of the period, The Glow gets its strength from its covers. Raitt takes on "I Thank You," "Your Good Thing (Is About to End)," and "Bye Bye Baby," and struts through them all with ease. "The Boy Can't Help It" doesn't fare as well. Robert Palmer's "You're Gonna Get What's Coming" makes for a great fit. Surprisingly, her take on Jackson Browne's "Sleep's Dark and Silent Gate" doesn't dig as deep as the great original.
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…