Raven Records has an uncanny knack for reissuing the right lost rock, country, and R&B titles. This pairing of Bonnie Bramlett's second and third solo outings after she and Delaney divorced is a case in point. Originally issued on Capricorn, both of these recordings -- dating from 1974 and 1976, respectively -- were produced by the great Johnny Sandlin of Allman Brothers fame. There is no attempt to reach the pop charts with these; they are both solid rock and R&B outings with a cast of musicians that would make anybody's head spin. On It's Time, Gregg Allman, Butch Trucks, Jaimoe, and Chuck Leavell from the Allmans all lend a hand, as do Eddie Hinton, Clydie King, Randall Bramblett, and a cast of two-dozen others. On Lady's Choice, Dickey Betts and Barry Beckett join the fold as well. Bramlett's voice is in fine form through this two-fer, doing singular interpretations of songs such as Hinton's "Cover Me" and "Where You Come From," as well as a funky version of the Jackie Wilson signature soul nugget "Higher & Higher" (before Rita Coolidge's revival read of it), Ivory Joe Hunter's "Since I Met You Baby," and Gregg and Janice Allman's "Oncoming Traffic." Her performance is right-from-the-heart gritty Southern soul. On the latter set, her reads of soul classics such as David Porter and Isaac Hayes' "Hold On, I'm Comin'," Sam Cooke's "You Send Me," Gamble & Huff's "Never Gonna Give You Up," Jimmy Reed's "Ain't That Loving You Baby," and Ashford & Simpson's "Let's Go Get Stoned" are more than just inspired, they are revelatory. There are a few surprises here as well, such as the proto-soul version of Gloria Jones' "If I Were Your Woman." In addition, the reads of the early Motown hit "You Really Got a Hold On Me" and Hank Ballard's "Let's Go, Let's Go, Let's Go," as fine as they are, are merely setups for an absolutely riveting and radical reinterpretation of Bob Dylan's "Forever Young." These two albums are presented in deluxe remastered sound with great liner notes for a fair price.
It's Time/Lady's Choice Review
by Thom Jurek