BONNIE RAITT - Road Tested (Capitol)

After a career of almost 25 years in the music industry, Grammy Award winner Bonnie Raitt has just released her first live album. The new double-CD, "Road Tested", contains 22 songs recorded this past July. Ranging from singles like the CD's opening track, "Thing Called Love" (with Bruce Hornsby) or "Love Sneakin' Up On You", to ballads, like "Matters of the Heart", Raitt covers a wide spectrum of her music - and its influences. "I've been wanting to do a live record for a long time", says Bonnie.

One of the things she wanted to do with the album was to include songs that are performed "in a way that is significantly different from the studio versions". In addition to two songs performed with Hornsby, "Road Tested" includes duets on some of Raitt's personal favorites with Kim Wilson (from The Fabulous Thunderbirds), Jackson Browne, and Bryan Adams.

Most of the material on the CD comes across very well. One of the highlights is the solo rendition of Chris Smither's "Love Me Like a Man". Bonnie's live take on "Three Time Loser" sounds better than her original. On the funky "Never Make Your Move Too Soon", Raitt is joined onstage by R & B veterans Ruth Brown & Charles Brown.

There are times, mainly on the ballads, where Raitt seems uninspired. It's almost as if she's succumbed to MOR for part of the set. But then, just to throw you off guard, she dishes up a respectable cover of the Talking Heads classic, "Burning Down the House".

The CD ends with an all-star performance of John Prine's "Angel From Montgomery". If you're a fan of Bonnie Raitt, you'll like the new CD. If you're not a fan, pick it up anyway. You just might be surprised....

© 1995 Steve Marshall