Deep Dive: Bonnie Raitt, NINE LIVES
Today we celebrate the birthday of Bonnie Raitt, the singer who came to initial prominence in the ‘70s, rocked her way through that decade, and – after making her way through some commercially lean years – found her way into the hearts of a new generation of fans with her 1989 album NICK OF TIME.
How are we going to celebrate this important date? We’ll taking a look back at the last album Raitt released before her big comeback.
Released in 1986, NINE LIVES – the follow-up to Raitt’s 1982 album, GREEN LIGHT – was neither the album that Raitt fans wanted nor the album that Raitt herself had intended to make. In fact, it can’t even really be said to be the first album she recorded in the wake of GREEN LIGHT’s release.
In 1983, Raitt recorded an album entitled TONGUE & GROOVE, which was produced by Rob Fabroni, the man who’d helmed Raitt’s previous album. She’d finished the album, set up a tour to support it, and even hired a team to do a video for the first single, and – per Raitt in a 1990 interview – “it was quite literally the day after I had finished mastering it” that Warner Bros sent her a letter to inform her that she’d been dropped from the label.
Raitt considered trying to take the tapes to another label, but Warner Bros’ asking price was too high, so she was forced to walk away. Two years later, however, the label got in touch with her to let her know that they’d belatedly decided to release the album. Raitt was less than thrilled about the situation, but conversations with Warner Bros resulted in the label agreeing to let her return to the studio and recut half of it. As a result, the album changed titles to NINE LIVES.
While NINE LIVES wasn’t a huge commercial success, it did manage to find some mainstream rock airplay with its first single, “No Way to Treat a Lady,” probably in no small part because it was co-written by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance, the duo who brought you such classic singles as “Cuts Like a Knife,” “Heaven,” and “Summer of ’69.” The album also features a number of notable names playing on the material, including Bill Payne (Little Feat), Christine McVie (Fleetwood Mac), Ian McLagan (Faces), and more.
Of course, NINE LIVES’ title would’ve been far more appropriate for Raitt’s follow-up album, which took her into the realm of platinum sales and brought her the most significant commercial success of her career to date. Still, given when that next album arrived, you can’t argue with a title like NICK OF TIME.
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