Penny Valentine, Sounds, 12 July 1975
When Bonnie Raitt comes marching home to pack Carnegie Hall, Penny Valentine is there to talk to “the one woman who is a pure musician in the physical sense”
A SULLEN, warm, New York night and on the pavement outside Carnegie Hall kids hang out at interval time drinking cans of Coke, lighting up cigarettes in the dusk, overspilling into the 57th Street traffic that rumbles past.
These are blue jeaned babies hitting the New York concert scene en masse. It’s a surprising sight — like the West Coast has come adrift and floated across to the East. There’s a lot of blonde hair frazzled over quick tans caught at the start of New York’s heatweave Summer; a lot of downtown kids come uptown for the evening; Village kids sashaying their jeans and embroidered smocks around the luxury belt. These are college kids mainly — middle class radicals on an identifying trip.
The girl they’ve come out to see is Bonnie Raitt and at 9 pm Martin Mull — an our man in Havana look-a-like — introduces “the most talented female singer in America”. Out on to the same stage that Billie Holiday finally made it 30 years ago, to sing her black woman blues to a rich white audience, comes Bonnie Raitt — a well off-white girl with her sad woman blues. A girl who sings lost and found with a rare brilliance.
Over the past couple of years Bonnie Raitt has produced four albums. An inconsistent talent on record, mainly due to production difficulties, Raitt is still, in my book, the best of the contemporary women musicians. When she does make it, when it all clicks in the studio, she can cut through you and expose your emotional nerve endings until you mentally scream for help.
It is an all too rare quality and when it shines through (as it does on Taking My Time, her best album to date), to say it’s worth waiting for is an understatement.
So here’s Bonnie up on stage. Oh, Bonnie what you done to me over the past year… and I’m not alone obviously. The kids that have come to Carnegie and packed it out through the stalls to the ceiling stand and cheer as she walks on stage looking easy and relaxed. Then they drop back into their seats, draping their blue jeaned legs over those hallowed upper balcony and box rails.