Liner Notes - Live At Montreux ‘77/’91 DVD

Live At Montreux ‘77/’91 DVD 
Release date: May 31, 2005 Montreux Sounds™ 
SA/Eagle Eye Media (a division of Eagle Rock Entertainment) 
Catalog info: GB-C25-05-0025

Singer and guitarist Bonnie Raitt was rock and pop’s best-kept secret until, after two decades of critical acclaim and cult following, she hit Number 1 in the US album chart, assisted John Lee Hooker’s acclaimed comeback with ‘The Healer’ and picked up Grammy awards by the handful! Long-time fans who’d followed her story since her first major-label deal in 1971 were delighted to see Bonnie finally get her due, as her musical integrity remained as intact as ever.
This DVD offers performances from both sides of her multi-platinum renaissance – the main event from July 1977, on the release of sixth album ‘Sweet Forgiveness’, which went on to yield her first radio hit with ‘Runaway’, being augmented by a tantalising four-song glimpse of Bonnie in 1991 when she was rising on the crest of second Grammy-winning Capitol album ‘Luck Of The Draw’, released that very month. On both occasions Bonnie and band had arrived straight off the transatlantic plane, hence the occasional jetlag reference, and were playing in stifling midsummer heat – but there is still much to enjoy here from a consummate artist and two different but equally talented outfits.  
Bonnie learned her trade opening for such blues greats as Mississippi Fred McDowell, Muddy Waters and John Hammond Jr. Later she would bring many blues and R&B artists out on the road with her, including the great blueswoman Sippie Wallace whose ‘Women Be Wise’ she performs here. Her first, self-named album released by Warners in 1971 split covers and originals, but the following year’s ‘Give It Up’ attracted more notice: ‘Love Me Like A Man’, performed here with Jerry Portnoy (from the co-billed Muddy Waters’ band) guesting on harmonica, first appeared on this album. Bonnie’s own compositions stood alongside an impeccable choice of songs from artists like Chris Smither (who penned ‘Love Me Like A Man’) as well as the better-known likes of Jackson Browne, whose ‘Under The Falling Sky’ and ‘I Thought I Was A Child’ are both highlights here. The latter appeared on 1973’s ‘Takin’ My Time’, Bonnie’s first US Top 100 album which saw her hook up with fellow slide guitar player Lowell George and pianist Billy Payne of Little Feat.      

Streetlights’ and ‘Home Plate’ (her Stateside Top 50 debut. on which ‘Walk Out The Front Door’ and ‘Sugar Mama’ were heard) continued the climb in 1974 and ‘75, but it took a hit single – the previously mentioned bluesy cover of Del Shannon’s early-1960s favourite ‘Runaway’ – in 1977 to earn Top 30 status for its parent album, ‘Sweet Forgiveness’. It was also the spur for Bonnie’s first trip to Europe, which provides the majority of our viewing. The band she brought with her had been together since 1974 and was therefore a tried and trusted unit. Freebo doubled on bass and tuba, linking with Dennis Whitted on drums, while Will McFarlane from Cambridge, Massachusetts held down guitar and versatile veteran Marty Grebb doubled on keyboards and saxophone. ‘The Glow’ (1979), ‘Green Light’ (1982) and ‘Nine Lives’ (1986) continued building her repertoire and audiences, but the climate at radio was growing a bit chilly for eclectic, album-oriented artists such as Bonnie. Then a switch of label (to Capitol), a sympathetic new producer in Don Was and a shift in the public’s musical tastes towards blues and roots music all combined in 1989 to make ‘Nick Of Time’ a major success (Number 1, three Grammys and four million sales off the bat), while her already remarked-upon combination with John Lee Hooker – they duetted memorably on ‘I’m In The Mood’ – turned the full glare of the international spotlight her way. The all-important follow-up, ‘Luck Of The Draw’ (seven times platinum, US Number 1 plus three more Grammies), was being promoted on Bonnie’s 1991 Montreux appearance – she’s since paid a return visit, in 2003– and the band she brought with her was stellar by any yardstick.
The crack rhythm section of bassist James ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson, drummer Ricky Fataar and percussionist Debra Dobkin provide the foundation for guitarist Stephen Bruton and keyboardists Glen Clark and Daniel Timms to shine, while Daniel duets vocally with Bonnie on a searing, percussion-laced ‘Good Man, Good Woman’ – like ‘Papa Come Quick’ a highlight of the current album. Interestingly, ‘Sweet Forgiveness’ standout ‘Three Time Loser’ was the only song to be repeated from 1977: we showcase it here since the earlier version was among a handful of numbers marred by technical problems and therefore unavailable for inclusion.
A guest star also joined in the fun – brilliant singer/pianist Charles Brown. “The great, legendary rhythm and blues giant” (as Ms Raitt rightly introduces him) was coincidentally touring Europe, so Bonnie urged Montreux supremo Claude Nobs to invite him to perform on the same night as her at the Casino. Charles had been joined by his guitarist, Danny Caron, as well as Hutch and Ricky from Bonnie’s band for a 20-minute set before returning to the stage to guest on Jimmy McCracklin's classic ‘Think’.
After two decades of commercial under-achievement but artistic brilliance, Bonnie Raitt had finally been rewarded with mainstream success which continued with 1994’s US chart-topping ‘Longing In Their Hearts’. After a career-spanning live retrospective, ‘Road Tested’, emerged on double-CD/two-hour DVD in ‘95, she took a well deserved break, enjoying life off the road and turning up on numerous friends’ records as well as performing with her late actor father John, both live and on his 1995 Grammy-nominated album ‘Broadway Legend’.
A lifelong political activist, Bonnie has continued throughout her career to do benefits in support of causes she holds dear: protecting the environment, royalty reform for legendary R&B artists, and issues of peace, justice, women and human rights. A founding member of the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in l988, she also initiated the Bonnie Raitt Guitar Program which, since l995, has encouraged kids in over 200 boys and girls' clubs around the world to learn the guitar. 
Bonnie’s musical odyssey rolled on with ‘Fundamental’ (1998), ‘Silver Lining’ (2002) and ‘Best Of’ (2003), while her live band on both recent Montreux visits still included Messrs Hutchinson and Fataar. With a near four-decade career, nine Grammys, sales of more than 15 million albums and induction to the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame, Bonnie Raitt has much to look back on. Fans new and old will be looking forward to the next chapter of an engrossing story: meanwhile, these back pages are an unexpected bonus. - Michael Heatley
Under The Falling Sky
Walk Out The Front Door
Good Enough
Nothing Seems To Matter
Love Me Like A Man
Give It Up, Or Let Me Go
Women Be Wise
I Thought I Was A Child
Sugar Mama
Bonus Performance (1991)
Papa Come Quick
Good Man, Good Woman
Three-Time Loser Think (with special guest, Charles Brown)
Under The Falling Sky (Jackson Browne) Swallow Turn Music (ASCAP)
Walk Out The Front Door (Mark T. Jordan/David Stock) JewelYard Music (ASCAP)
Good Enough (Johanna Hall/John Hall) EMI Blackwood Music/Siren Songs (BMI)
Nothing Seems To Matter (Bonnie Raitt) Kokomo Music (ASCAP)
Love Me Like A Man (William Christopher Smither) EMI Unart Catalog, Inc./Homunculus Music (ASCAP)
Give It Up, Or Let Me Go (Bonnie Raitt) Kokomo Music (ASCAP)
Women Be Wise (Sippie Wallace) Sippie Wallace Productions (BMI)
I Thought I Was A Child (Jackson Browne) Swallow Turn Music (ASCAP)
Home (Karla Bonoff) Sky Harbor Music (BMI)
Sugar Mama (Glen A. Clark) Glen Clark Music (ASCAP)
Runaway (Max D. Crook/ Del Shannon) Bug Music Publishing/Mole Hole Music (BMI)
Papa Come Quick (M.R. Hirsch/William P. McCord/James Wesley Voight) Vera Cruz Music Co. (ASCAP)/Back Road Music, Inc. (BMI)/In Sync Music (BMI)
Good Man, Good Woman (Cecil Dale Womack/Linda Womack) Next Flight Music/Zomba Songs, Inc. (BMI)
Three-Time Loser (Donald Covay/Ronald A. Miller) Pronto Music (BMI)
Think (Jimmy McCracklin/Don D. Robey) EMI Unart Catalogue (BMI)
1977 Band : Bonnie Raitt: Guitar & Vocals Freebo: Bass, Tuba & Vocals Marty Grebb: Keyboards, Sax & Vocals Will McFarlane: Guitar & Vocals Dennis Whitted: Drums Jerry Portnoy: Guest Harmonica
1991 Band:  Bonnie Raitt: Guitar & Vocals James “Hutch” Hutchinson: Bass & Vocals Ricky Fataar: Drums Debra Dobkin: Percussion & Vocals Glen Clark: Keyboards, Harmonica & Vocals Stephen Bruton: Guitar & Vocals Daniel Timms: Keyboards & Vocals Charles Brown: Special Guest Piano & Vocal