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.
Since the mid-'80s, Barrence Whitfield has dedicated his life to reminding people that rock & roll and rhythm & blues are not separate but equal institutions, but healthy branches of the same tree; on-stage or in the studio, Whitfield howls vintage R&B tunes with the fury of a hot-wired rock band, and belts out vintage-style rock with a healthy portion of swagger and soul. In Whitfield's world, it's all loud and furious, and makes you want to dance, and really, who doesn't want some of that in their life? After a detour through other projects, Whitfield resurrected the Savages in 2011, and 2015's Under the Savage Sky, the group's third album since returning to duty, stands proudly alongside mid-'80s landmarks like Dig Yourself and Ow! Ow! Ow! as a master class in souped-up and full-bodied roadhouse rocking.
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'.
Dylan followed Oh Mercy, his most critically acclaimed album in years, with Under the Red Sky, a record that seemed like a conscious recoil from that album's depth and atmosphere…