http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/3a280c2f7e3dacb4f083a99a779964dd11015d38.jpg Streetlights

Bonnie Raitt


Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 0 0
November 7, 1974

On her newest album Bonnie Raitt, one of the most gifted contemporary pop interpreters, partially succeeds in coping with uncongenial production by Jerry Ragovoy. The uneven results illustrate an important record industry problem: How are artists to deal with a sophisticated production technology that dictates the creation of flawlessly manufactured commercial "product" and tends to disallow the idiosyncratic, spontaneous and simple? Increasingly, the outcome is a bland MOR slickness that depersonalizes an artist's vocal quality and undermines the character of a song.

Ragovoy's production, while it sets off Raitt's voice as a beautiful artifact, fails to exploit her great strength as a blues singer. Joni Mitchell's "That Song about the Midway" and James Taylor's "Rainy Day Man" emerge as high-quality schlock ballads, either perfect or perfectly boring. More successful are John Prine's "Angel From Montgomery" and Bill Payne's "Streetlights," both of which Raitt animates, despite their overly polished sound settings. Raitt fares best in the bluesier songs — Ragovoy's own "Ain't Nobody Home," Lou Courtney's "You Got To Be Ready for Love" and Allen Toussaint's cynical "What Is Success." The last, one of Raitt's finest recorded performances, is the only cut in which she tears loose and shows her ability as an R&B interpreter.

The apparent intention behind Streetlights is to broaden Raitt's commercial appeal, to make her a superstar a la Roberta Flack. I hope the plan succeeds, so that Raitt will have the option to record her next album in a garage, singing the blues against her own slide guitar and a small rhythm section, and still sell millions. One of the many pleasures of Bonnie Raitt's previous records, a pleasure that can be even more fully appreciated in live performance, is a shared sense of fun. While Raitt demonstrates impressive technical ability on Streetlights, she doesn't sound like she's having a good time.

Album Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Whoomp! (There It Is)”

    Tag Team | 1993

    Cecil Glenn — a.k.a., "D.C." — was a cook at Magic City, a nude dance club in Atlanta, when he first heard women shout "Whoomp — there it is!" Inspired by the party chant, he and partner Steve "Roll'n" Gibson wrote a song around it. Undaunted by label rejections, they borrowed $2,500 from Glenn's parents and pressed 800 singles, which quickly sold out in the Atlanta area. A record deal came soon after. Glenn said the song was meant for positive partying. "If you're going to say 'Whoomp there it is,' and you're doing something negative, we'd rather it not have come out of your mouth."

    More Song Stories entries »