Saturday, March 3, 2012

229. Nick of Time. The 1st lady of the Blues.

Album: Nick of Time
Artist: Bonnie Raitt
Year: 1989
Genre: Rock

  1. Nick of Time
  2. Thing Called Love
  3. Love Letter
  4. Cry on My Shoulder
  5. Real Man
  6. Nobody's Girl
  7. Have a Heart
  8. Too Soon to Tell
  9. I Will Not Be Denied
  10. I Ain't Gonna Let You Break My Heart Again
  11. The Road's My Middle Name

There are lots of women on this countdown. The division isn't exactly 50-50 but there are certainly some females amongst the testosterone. They all have my admiration but none more so than Bonnie Raitt. Pretty much all the other females in the rest of the top 500 come from traditional female territory. Country music has always had girls, and pop is one of the few genres in which ladies outnumber the fellas, but blues guitar is a different story. Blues guitar is a male dominated profession rivaled only by the Catholic priesthood for gender dominance. I found a list of the 100 best blues guitarists of all time and Bonnie is the only girl on there. Except for her lone appearance at number 86 it's blokes all the way.

Breaking through the glass ceiling that dominates blues guitar wasn't something she managed based on purely her looks and her fantastic hair, Bonnie earned the respect of BB King, John Lee Hooker and others by being able to play a six string better than anyone else around (or at least better than everyone except the 85 people above her on the list). Raitt plays slide guitar and plays it like she means it. She also has the perfect Blues voice which sounds like she's lived the blues rather than just seen it played by white people in a bar.

Shame then that this is the album that people know her by. Raitt's early albums were blues-based triumphs which featured her slide playing and soulful voice in a series of blues covers and contemporary standards. What made them great was the fact that she didn't just do the same songs everyone else had a turn at. She didn't try and outdo the men, whose territory she had boldly stepped into, at their own game, she invented her own rules. She covered artists like Sippie Wallace, another great woman who played the Blues during the Depression. She played songs her own way and released some great albums and played some fantastic live shows where she entertains a crowd with just her guitar and her repetoire of songs.

It's a shame then that the album she's best known for is Nick of Time, the album in which cast aside her blues roots in order to try and break into the pop charts with an album of songs much more suited to the way a woman was supposed to behave if she wanted chart success. It's definitely not a sell out and it's a pleasant listen but it's nothing compared to the earlier albums she produced which I highly recomend you check out.

Influenced by: The Blues and commercial success
Influenced: Every other woman who plays blues guitar.

Highlight: Thing called Love
Lowlight: Too Soon to Tell

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "I was fortunate to cook for this diva. What a nice lady. With a priveleged vantage point I witnessed a tear on her cheek as a Scottish pipe band played happy birthday to Bonnie and a Bonnie sight it was."

-Ooh good anecdote. Thanks for sharing.

So is this Bonnie music or not? Let me know below.

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