Maxwell (piano), Freebo (bass, kazoo), Dennis Whitted (drums)
Article borrow from Wolfgangs Vault
Bonnie Raittis one of the most
enduring female artists in rock 'n' roll, with a career that has spanned
decades. In 1970, the 65-year-old Cambridge blues promoter and manager, Dick
Waterman, an important figure in the blues revival of the 1960s, recognizedBonnie
Raittas an aspiring musician on
the Boston area folk and blues scene. With Waterman's encouragement, Raitt began
performing alongside established blues legends such asHowlin'
Wolf, Sippie Wallace, and Mississippi Fred McDowell, and in late 1970, while
opening for Fred McDowell at the Gaslight Cafe in New York, aNewsweek
Magazinereporter caught Raitt's
performance and began to spread the word. Record company scouts began attending
her shows and she soon entered into a relationship with Warner Brothers, who
released her debut self titled album in 1971.
Raitt's critical stature, both as an interpreter and as a guitarist, continued
to grow but sales remained modest. Her second album,Give
It Up, released in 1972 and 1973'sTakin'
My Timewere also both met with
critical acclaim, but as strong as these albums were, Raitt remained an anomaly
because at the time, very few women had strong reputations as guitarists. On
these first three albums, Raitt struck a near perfect balance between bawdiness,
sincerity, and fun, which was even more obvious in her live performances. She
was building a solid reputation with her blend of blues, rock and folk music,
while creating a style uniquely her own.
Which brings us to this January 1974 performance, recorded on theTakin'
My Timetour at Providence, Rhode
Island's Palace Theater, headlining a bill withRoomful
of Blues. With her longtime cohort, Freebo on bass, she was now working with
her first band, featuring Dennis Whitted on drums, who would anchor Raitt's
bands for years to come and the phenomenal piano player, David Maxwell, who had
performed with the likes ofFreddie
Cotton. Raitt focuses on the strongest material from her first three albums,
with several choice covers thrown in for good measure.
The set opens with Sippie Wallace's "Special Delivery Blues" followed by a
lovely cover ofJackson
Browne's "I Thought I Was A Child, recently recorded for herTakin'
My Timealbum. The new album is also well represented by a smoldering
Smither's "I Feel The Same," Fred McDowell's "Write Me A Few Of Your
Lines/Kokomo Blues," which features some of Raitt's trademark slide guitar work,
and a unique interpretation ofRandy
Over the course of the show, Raitt also dives deep into the material on 1972'sGive
It Up. Highlights include the New Orleans style blues of "You Got To Know
How," and "Nothng Seems To Matter," which serves as a showcase for pianist,
David Maxwell, and features a humorous kazoo solo from Freebo. From that same
album, Raitt delivers her original blues, "Give It Up Or Let Me Go," which again
showcases her talents on bottleneck slide and features prodigious piano work
from Maxwell. Compelling versions of "Too Long At The Fair" and the woeful Eric
Kaz/Libby Titus classic, "Love Has No Pride" are also included in this set
Raitt ventures back to material from her 1970 debut as well, with a lovely take
on Bud Johnson's "Since I Fell For You," and a tasteful cover ofStephen
"Bluebird." Sippie Wallace's "Women Be Wise" and Tommy Johnson's "Big Road"
sound better than ever with this band, with the latter featuring brief but
impressive solo spots from all.
Two surprising covers also surface in this set, both reflecting Raitt's love of
soul music. Raitt shines on both "Baby, I Love You," which stays close toAretha
Franklin's classic arrangement and on the deep groove ofWilson
Pickett's "You've Got To Feel It," that must have had this audience dancing
in the aisles.
With a few months of band performances behind her, Raitt seems more comfortable
and confident. This performance is a fine example of Raitt broadening her
musical palette and moving beyond the acoustic singer/songwriter stage of her
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