Bonnie Raitt

The Essentials

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Bonnie Raitt's recording career should stand as somewhat of a cautionary tale for record labels. Warner Brothers signed her in 1971 and stuck by her for a little over a decade, trying to find a commercial niche for her blues and country-tinged vocals and startling bottleneck guitar style. She built a loyal following, and although her albums were critically well received and sold decently, she never really broke through to the A-list of pop radio play. Not, that is, until Warner dropped her after 1982's ironically titled Green Light album and she signed with Capitol Records, finally delivering the monster hit Nick of Time in 1989, all without significantly changing her style or approach. Which brings up this collection, which ought to be titled Warner Essentials, since it contains none of the Capitol tracks most listeners will associate with Raitt. On the plus side, this compilation makes a nice addition to her Capitol material, since it contains two of her best covers, the FM hit version of Del Shannon's "Runaway" from 1971 and a 1979 rendition of Sam & Dave's "I Thank You." Casual listeners, though, are going to ask where her hits are, which makes Warner's long investment in her career a lesson in sticking things through, a version of, well, since we've come this far, why turn back now?

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