Bonnie Raitt is too gifted to make an unlistenable album, but her eagerly awaited collaboration with producer Peter Asher is a solemn bore. Asher has recorded Raitt exactly as he does Linda Ronstadt, mixing R&B oldies with contemporary tunes and turning the singer's voice into an electronic artifact.
By treating classic soul raveups like Sam and Dave's "I Thank You" and Little Richard's "The Boy Can't Help It" as reverently as art songs, Asher and Raitt reduce them to stodgy, joyless museum pieces. "The Glow" and "(Goin') Wild for You Baby," two contemporary torch songs that sport Raitt's warmest vocals, aren't particularly outstanding. The LP's lowest point, however, is an appallingly perfunctory reading of Jackson Browne's "Sleep's Dark and Silent Gate." If ever a composition were too personal to be sung by anyone but its creator, it's this one.
The Glow glaringly illuminates the limitations of Peter Asher's studio perfectionism. He doesn't overproduce in the usual sense by filling tracks with unnecessary sweetening, but rather by turning out gleamingly spare, "official" Los Angeles rock that's as spiritually hollow as it is technically immaculate. Raitt's best record, 1972's Give It Up, doesn't sound half as lustrous as The Glow, but at least it wasn't embalmed.