Less than a year after VH1 Classic debuted "Decades Rock Live!", the network breaks new ground with the first-ever DVD/CD release from the innovative concert series. VH1 Classic Decades Rock Live! Presents Bonnie Raitt and Friends Featuring Norah Jones, Ben Harper, Alison Krauss and Keb'Mo' will be released by Capitol Records on August 15th. Bonnie Raitt and Friends, which was recorded live at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, NJ on September 30, 2005, will feature never-before-seen performance and interview footage, including four duets not included in the VH1 Classic broadcast of the concert. With two hours of concert and interview footage, the concert which was filmed in Hi-Definition and is presented in 5.1 audio, features Raitt performing 17 songs with her longtime band - George Marinelli (guitar), James "Hutch" Hutchinson (bass), Ricky Fataar (drums) and Jon Cleary (keyboards). Included are such classic Raitt hits as "Something To Talk About," "Love Letter" (with Mo'), "You" (with Krauss) and a knock-out encore of "Love Sneakin' Up On You" with Raitt, Jones, Harper, Krauss and Mo' as well as highlights from her latest studio album, Souls Alike, including "I Will Not Be Broken," "God Was In The Water", "I Don't Want Anything To Change" (with Jones) and "Unnecessarily Mercenary" (a duet with keyboardist Cleary, who wrote the song). The accompanying CD features 11 tracks, including the radio single "Two Lights In The Nighttime" (featuring Ben Harper).
Judging from her two live releases, this and 1995's Road Tested
, everyone's favorite slide-guitar-playing, rootsy redhead loves working with other musicians. Generally known for raising the visibility of older blues and R&B legends such as Ruth Brown and Charles Brown, she invites more contemporary stars Ben Harper, Norah Jones, Keb' Mo', and Alison Krauss along for this set. Recorded during a September 2005 evening, this slick CD/DVD package catches Raitt and her muscular four-piece on tour supporting Souls Alike
. Perhaps not surprisingly, the setlist is heavily weighted to that album, with nearly half the selections drawn from the disc. Although those songs are well played, they don't differ markedly from the studio versions. It would have been more interesting to cherry-pick older, more obscure material from Raitt's extensive career. Regardless, the duets work well in a restrained VH1 way, with Harper the highlight as he lays into the gospel "Well, Well, Well" and the double-barreled slide showcase "Two Lights in the Nighttime." Raitt's in fine fettle throughout, slinging stinging slide solos and singing with her usual emotional fervor.
Oddly, the 52-minute CD version of the 17-song, hour-and-a-half video omits the lovely Norah Jones-assisted "Tennessee Waltz" and Alison Krauss's hoedown on "Papa Come Quick." The professionally shot DVD expands the sound to surround, but nearly mars the generally fine set with excessive camera movement; garish, obtrusive lighting; and a brash, hyperactive video background that is, at best, distracting--and more often undermines Raitt's earthy performance and classy collaborations with her band and musically amiable guests. --Hal Horowitz