Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Bonnie Raitt: Road Tested [Capitol, 1995]
Her supposed comeback in fact a breakthrough, she never approached gold back in the day, and hence was never big enough for a live album until now. This is lucky timing, because Grammy-era bland-out rarely dulls her concerts, where her roots-respectin' rockers come out raunchy, her tender ballads casually intimate. So even if you love Nick of Time, this two-CD mix of old songs and new illustrates why Raitt became an icon while Ronstadt turned into a gargoyle. She creates a world in which Bruce Hornsby and Bryan Adams project as much soul as Ruth Brown and Charles Brown. She's so free of ironic impurities she sings "Burning Down the House" as if it means one thing. And her parting words aren't "Take care of yourselves"--they're "Take care of each other." A-